Geology is increasingly involved in the planning and implementation of community development projects throughout the globe. A partnership among the Water For Life organization, Wheaton College in Illinois, and the village of Tushile in Kosovo during the past few years has proven to be successful in potentially sustainable improvements, including water resources, sanitation, and soils use. The initiative also provides a fine example of experiential education. Geology majors serve via high-quality research, interaction with the local people, and construction labor to see projects through to completion. Kosovo is the most recent of the forays for Wheaton College Department of Geology and Environmental Science into the realm of international-development service and research. In part to discover a niche for our distinctive institutional mission, we have become committed to undergraduate education in the developing world. The essence of this vision is a two-way experience to benefit our students as well as the communities they serve. The longer-term commitment to collaborate with charitable organizations in working to improve global life and the environment should become a prime objective for geoscience education. Professors, as mentors, and their students with geology majors gain firsthand experience in professional-level technical projects guided by principles for international development.
© 2022 National Association of Geoscience Teachers. [DOI: 10.5408/10-214.1]
Key words: service-research, Kosovo, community development, institutional partnerships
INTRODUCTION: GEOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT
It is unfortunate but true that geologists are underappreciated for their role in comprehending and managing the planet's material resources. Biological scientists, social scientists, and engineers typically dominate discussions and practice involving environmental stewardship. Those of us trained broadly to recognize Earth's interdependent systems realize that such geoscience perspectives are necessary for a proper understanding of modern global problems. Signs-of-the-times include great political and economic turmoil caused, in large part, by resource issues, environmental degradation, and natural disasters. At least the world, that is, the global media and governments, now see that the need for clean, abundant freshwater is the single greatest health issue. Even so, organizations commonly without geological knowledge waste great time and funds mislocating water projects. One blatant example of geological success came because of drilling a high-capacity, highwater-quality well in Haiti (Dykstra and Adamson, 2009). A geological consulting firm prefaced drilling with basic, ground-truth geological mapping. They proved the contention, made by local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), that a particular area of northern Haiti was "dry," was quite wrong. Community development initiatives without adequate geological input are potentially doomed to failure. For many years now, wonderful counterexamples have functioned under the guidance of distinguished geologist B. E. Vijayam in India. Vijayam's NGO creations, including PROGRESS and TENT (Strom, 2009), integrate geological principles into almost every aspect of holistic rural development. Many of the village-level projects under TENT are planned to consider improvements in the context of a unified watershed. Water sources, sanitation, erosion, agriculture, land-use planning, and energy provision are all analyzed and managed as components of a larger, single geological system.
International development practice is a continuing concern for the materially wealthier, one-third of the world. Motives underlying helping our less-affluent neighbors may or may not be altruistic. Neocolonial attitudes would suggest that, of course we want to avoid great dysfunction in our sources of minerals and bases of political influence. However, less cynical may be our sense of compassion and desire to elevate those people with more primitive lifestyles. …