by Martha Goenaga
The first issue of "The Declaration" (January-April
1996) featured an article describing the introduction of the Talloires
Declaration principles to Colombia in 1994 under the leadership
of the University of Jorge Tadeo Lozano. The article, entitled
"Colombian Conference Takes Hands-On Method to Extreme,"
relates the unanticipated and special circumstances that each
country faces in working toward an environmentally literate and
sustainable society. In its discussion of the ULSF-sponsored Colombian
Environmental Literacy Institute, held in September 1995, the
article reveals how the case study method thrusts participants
into the living realities of the places and conditions being investigated.
Since that first experience, the University of Jorge Tadeo Lozano
has developed many activities in support of the goals of the Talloires
Declaration. We've also initiated actions at other Colombian universities
as well as at universities in neighboring countries such as Venezuela,
Ecuador, and Peru.
Nearly 15 of our graduate programs have introduced an environmental
course. We designed two courses about sustainable development
and its environmental implications for the School of International
Commerce and the School of Agricultural Business Administration.
The courses are conducted using the Environmental Literacy Institute's
case study method. The primary objective of these courses is to
ensure that students understand environmental responsibility from
the perspective of their future professions. So far, we have taught
six courses for the School of International Commerce and two courses
for the School of Agricultural Business Administration.
In the School of Communication, the dean, the educational administrator,
and a professor supported the development of a campaign to raise
student awareness about separating trash for recycling. The campaign
is called Tadi, which is a nickname for Jorge Tadeo Lozano, the
former president of the university and a supporter of the Botanica
expedition (see below). In their 12th semester at the school of
Communication, students prepared a campaign using a "chulo"
as a symbol for recycling (A chulo is a black bird native to the
Andean region that eats organic trash from dumpsites). Though
the symbol was confusing at first because people did not know
what the bird did for the environment, it soon became widely accepted.
Students designed material with recycling instructions, and they
placed informational stickers on trash receptacles. Developing
environmental awareness at the University has been very challenging
due to the amount of work that has yet to be done. Such awareness
cannot be fostered with only one action.
To complement the recycling campaign, students from various schools
organized an environmental event to commemorate Earth Day, called
ECOTADEO. They arranged events concerning environmental literacy
and ecological marketing, and sold environmentally friendly products.
The director, Dr. Evaristo Obregon, placed a plaque on a "caucho
sabanero" tree (a species from our region) in honor of conservation
and biodiversity in Colombia.
As a contribution to ECOTADEO, the School of International Commerce
planned a parade called "A Minute of Silence for the Environment."
Students dressed in black and walked in silence throughout the
university campus with a coffin that represented the loss of our
natural resources. This event was well received by the community.
The Office of Campus Activities of the university, directed by
Dr. Maria Cristina Vergara, and the theater professor both approved
the idea of writing a play related to the environment. At the
closing of the third meeting of the Environmental Information
Network of Colombia, entitled "University and Environment,"
and in the presence of the authorities of the Environmental and
Fauna Ministry, the theater group presented four scenes addressing
specific environmental problems: trash, noise pollution, and the
shortage of natural resources. The primary purpose of the play
was to encourage universities to take action with environmental
issues that affect them. In this case, through the use of cultural
expressions such as a play, it was possible to inform a variety
of stakeholders of the principles of environmental literacy.
Other Activities at the University
In June 1997, a group called Corporate Ecology was formed to
support ULSF initiatives at the university and implement environmental
policies consistent with Tadeo's mission statement. This group
includes the head of general services, the head of procurement,
the head of the administration, a representative of the general
secretariat and some professors from various schools. An important
objective of the group is to continue with the cultural and scientific
work of the Botanica expedition, which has been planned for the
next century. This initiative involves the implementation of concrete
actions toward a rational and sustainable use of water, energy
and waste. For the university this will lead to the reduction
of our energy, water and trash collection costs.
At the national level Tadeo's contribution to the integration
of environmental principles at Colombian universities has been
accomplished through the implementation of environmental literacy
workshops. There have been three workshops in Colombia to date:
the first took place in Santa Marta in 1995, and involved a case
study titled "Education and Environment: Sierra Nevada de
Santa Marta;" the second took place in Leticia in 1996, with
a case study titled "Amazonas: Sustainable Management of
a Frontier City;" and the third took place in Tumaco in 1997,
with a case study titled "Costa Pacifica: Coastal Development
For 1998 we have two workshops planned. One will take place on
the border between Colombia and Venezuela and focus on Tama, the
binational park, and the second will occur in Pereira and focus
on coffee production. Both workshops will take place in September
1998 and involve numerous professors, international experts, local
stakeholders, and a team/project-based methodology. In addition,
participants will be given sufficient information to identify
the relationship between the ecosystem-health and human health
as well as the connections between scientific, environmental and
It has been a major effort at Tadeo University to put our environmental
program in place. We are grateful for the commitment of many at
the university for taking the lead both on campus and in Colombia.
Moreover, we are thankful for the ongoing support of the President
and the Vice Presidents of the university. We have only begun
our journey, and there is a lot more road to travel.
Professor Marta Goenaga is Coordinator of the Colombian ULSF
Secretariat at the Fundacion Universidad de Bogota Jorge Tadeo
Lozano; Santafe de Bogota, D.C., Colombia. She can be reached
at: Tel: 571-336-4446; Fax: 571-281-1464; email: firstname.lastname@example.org,
for information on strategies to launch collaborative national
environmental literacy initiatives in Latin America.
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