Appalachian College Association

International Seminar Grant






A Pacific Ocean to Brazil Transect:

Environmental, economic and political issues at subtropical latitudes in South America:

Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil









Dr. James Reynolds, Brevard College


Environmental Studies, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences Division

Brevard College, Brevard, NC 28712

Tel: (828) 884-8377, Fax: (828) 884-3790, E-Mail:


Dr. Todd S. Fredericksen, Ferrum College



Dr. Carmen McEvoy, University of the South







Tremendous environmental/ecological diversity is present at subtropical latitudes (23-33 S) across the South American continent. These changes result from a combination of the descent of dry upper atmospheric winds along the Subtropical Divergence and the Andes Mountains along the western margin of the continent. The arid, coastal Atacama Desert, in Chile, gives way to high ranges and active volcanoes of the Andes and the Puna Plateau along the border with Argentina. Peaks that soar above 20,000 are covered with snow and ice. The eastern side of the Andes is an arid rain-shadow desert in the Cordillera Oriental. Atlantic Ocean moisture reaches the plains to the east of the mountains to form the semiarid savanna of the Chaco. Increasing amounts of rainfall farther to the east allow a subtropical rain forest to flourish. This rich diversity of ecosystems provides an equally rich diversity of indigenous flora and fauna.

Geologically, this excursion offers a complete transect of a modern mountain belt that is still rising. The transect ends in an area where Cretaceous rifting started to form a new ocean basin. This event was aborted and rifting started anew at the present margin of the South Atlantic Ocean. The trip will also pass through important regions for metals and petroleum extraction.

The trip will introduce the students to the capital cities of Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay, allowing students to experience significant diversity in Latin American cultures. There will be numerous opportunities to discuss the political and social development of these countries and chances to visit important historical sites. Of particular historical interest will be the battlefields near Santiago, Chile where decisive victories were won against the Spanish during the war for liberation.


Goals and Objectives


  • Provide an interdisciplinary experience to students through examples of how climatic, geological, ecological, environmental, historical, sociological, and politico-economic issues shape various countries in South America.


  • Introduce students to several distinct South American cultures rich in ethnic heritage, where spoken English is rare, and lifestyles are very different from that of the students.


  • Provide ACA students and faculty the opportunity to collaborate with students and faculty from South American universities.


  • Provide ACA students with the opportunity to communicate in a language other than English.


Expertise among faculty in Latin America


         Jim Reynolds has conducted geological research in Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Trinidad & Tobago, making more than 25 trips to Latin America. In 1989, he was a Fulbright Scholar in Argentina and taught a short course at six Argentine universities. He speaks fluent Spanish and has numerous government, academic, and industrial contacts. He is a recognized expert in Argentine geology, particularly in the northwestern part of the country. He has also led numerous student trips abroad.


         Todd Fredericksen, a forestry and wildlife expert, lived in Bolivia for six years working for the U.S. Agency for International Development. He speaks fluent Spanish and has contacts with Paraguayan forest products businessmen who will contribute to the success of the course.


         Carmen McEvoy, a native of Peru, is a Latin American historian. She was a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow in 2002 in Chile and has traveled extensively in Latin America. She has written several books and articles about the political cultures and rise of nationalism in Peru and Chile.


Travel Arrangements


Travel arrangements will be provided by Sumaj Kay travel agency of Salta, Argentina. Reynolds has led three very successful trips, in both northern Argentina and Patagonia, using their services.










Lectures and discussions

Lectures by ACA faculty in their areas of expertise as well as discussions with local government officials, scientists, and community leaders.

Field Experience

Visit numerous sites of geological/ecological/ environmental interest and diversity.

Social and Cultural Activities

Visits to colonial cities, historical sites, cultural centers. Meet students from Salta University.












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