two students compare notes on a measurement on a beach in IcelandEnvironmental science students take a measurement during field mapping exercises in Iceland as part of a 10-day study-abroad experience.

Nordic excursion enhances environmental education

Pushing a car up a snow-clad hill in the northern part of Iceland was not on the itinerary for a recent study abroad trip — but students from the School of the Environment took it in stride.

The nine UWindsor students — in the Nordic country for a 10-day excursion led by professors Maria Cioppa, Ali Polat, and Phil Dutton with his wife Lisa Sylvestre — were at the summit of a high mountain pass during a snowstorm and were about to descend when they noticed a car driving up get stuck. In a shining example of Lancer courage, group members rushed to help push the vehicle up the road to clear the way.

The planned activities included examining rocks and glaciers, visiting geothermal baths, doing some field mapping, and going whale watching. The students got to see various parts of Iceland along the scenic Ring Road, a route that loops around the entire island. From learning about plate tectonics to volcanoes to climate change, students gained a deeper understanding of the earth from a geological perspective.

“If I was to describe my experience on this trip it would be eye-opening,” says environmental sciences student Larisa Renaud. “Iceland is truly a wondrous place to both enhance my understanding in my studies within the School of Environment but also to form connections with students and professors within my community.”

The trip enabled students to enhance their scientific knowledge and skills, while developing important life skills such as using the currency of another country, cooking when staying in remote areas, living in a hostel with other people, working in group settings, and even settling disputes.

The Faculty of Science offers many opportunities for students to embark on inspiring journeys through study abroad trips to various countries, says Dr. Cioppa, enriching the undergraduate experience by taking students out of a traditional classroom setting and challenging them to learn in new ways.

“We want them to grow intellectually, personally, and socially,” she says. “We want them to understand the world around them, how it was formed, and how it is changing. We want them to gain a better understanding of themselves, what they are capable of, and how they interact with others. And at the end of the day, we want them to have fun."

To make the trip more accessible, scholarships were provided to students through the Global Skills program. Additional financial aid was provided to First Nations students, students with disabilities, and those from low-income families.

—Moneeza Sami