Alberto Arenas, College of Education, U. of A.
Thursday, October 10, 2019,
The Arizona Senior Academy Building
Many Americans only associate Colombia with the longest continuous war of any country in the Americas. For nearly 60 years, the FARC (Columbian Revolutionary Armed Forces), originally a Marxist-Leninist, anti-imperialist peasant force promoting agrarianism, that with other guerilla groups, has waged a bloody armed struggle against the recognized government of Colombia. In 2017 a peace treaty between the government and the FARC theoretically ended this war, which had killed over 220,000 people, “disappeared” some 15,000 more, and displaced over 5 millions. Attacks on oil facilities caused toxic spills, but, paradoxically, much of Colombia’s rich biodiversity was maintained as the rebels protected their forested hiding places and development was impossible. While the number of war deaths has diminished (though not ceased), the “peace” has brought devastating environmental deterioration, our speaker will tell us, “with appalling consequences: widespread deforestation, illegal mining, vast tracts of land being used irresponsibly for illegal cattle and agricultural practices, and extensive territories being used for coca cultivation.” He warns that “Colombia, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, is currently facing an environmental threat of enormous proportions if urgent and immediate actions are not taken.”
An Associate Professor of Environmental and Sustainability Studies in the Dept. of Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies at the U. of A., Alberto Arenas is currently the Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Environmental Education. He has done extensive research related to environmental education in Mexico, Brazil and Colombia. A native Colombian, Alberto Arenas received a Bachelor’s degree from U. of A. in Journalism and Psychology in 1989. After working for several years in Brazil, he returned to the U.S. to get his Ph.D. degree in Sociocultural Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2000. Before returning to the U. of A. as a faculty member in 2002, he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Compiled by Suzanne Ferguson, Academy Village Voluntee