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MP meets with graduate students about future of mountains

20.09.2019

The future of mountains and how to bridge the gap between the global Agenda 2030 and local examples of implementation in mountain communities was at the heart of a meeting between the Mountain Resilience Coalition (MRC) and the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS). The two groups shared about their missions, visions and projects, and brainstormed about how to strengthen relationships and exchanges among Mountain Partnership (MP) members to advance sustainable mountain development.

John Hausdoerffer and a group of his master’s students met up with the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) to discuss the future of mountains and the worldwide mountain network. Hausdoerffer, the Dean of Western Colorado University School of Environment and Sustainability, visited the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) headquarters along with Abel Chávez, Western’s Dean of Graduate Studies and Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs. The Mountain Resilience Corps of graduate students are generously funded by MP Ambassador Arjun Gupta.

Hausdoerffer co-founded the MRC, a triad formed by three, Colorado-based mountain organizations (Aspen International Mountain Foundation, Telluride Institute and Western's School of Environment and Sustainability). The mission of the MRC is to represent the MP region of North and Central America and the Caribbean, and build action-research networks with the region’s mountain communities. The coalition enacts new ways to thrive in the American West, in worldwide mountain communities, and as global citizens through academic programmes, public events, faculty research and student projects.

The MRC offers a master’s programme that focuses on practical, real-world experience, requiring students to design a project instead of writing a thesis. The master’s students, including the programme’s first graduate, came to FAO headquarters to present their projects to the MPS and engage in conducive discussions about scaling up the role of university members of the MP and sustainable mountain development.

Students presented their work on topics ranging from connecting mountain peoples across the world, to developing mountain sustainability indicators, to establishing a “sister city” relationship between Gunnison, Colorado, and Majkhali, India.

The MRC graduate programme emphasizes the many levels of development, and how all must be included to create real change. One graduate project exemplifies this interconnection of environmental and social sustainability in mountains: the project is the innovation of making bricks out of the soil from over-silted dams, powered by methane leakage from a closing mine. This environmentally sustainable initiative will provide 50 jobs to the former miners.

Following the students’ presentations, the MPS and the group from Western discussed the way forward for mountains and the MP, and how to unite academic members of the partnership. The group discussed their future contributions to International Mountain Day 2019, and how they could involve universities from every MP region.

Interested in food, water and climate justice efforts across the mountains of the world? Earn a mountain-focused masters degree in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, or transform your current work from any region into a masters degree at Western Colorado University. Visit Western.edu/schoolenvs or email mem@western.edu to learn more. Ask about their Mountain Resilience Corps or their Food Security Corps if you reach out!

Photo from Jake Burchmore

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