Nov 102003
 
Authors: Seth Davis

The World Parks Congress only happens once a decade, but for the

CSU faculty members who attend, it is the experience of a

lifetime.

“I’m a first-year faculty member,” said Peter Newman, an

assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources

Recreation and Tourism. “For me to start off my career by going to

the World Parks Congress, it helps me strive for where I want to be

in 10 years. I want to attend the conference again, and I want to

be there not as a wide-eyed observer, but as a high-up

authority.”

Newman and four other CSU faculty members attended the

conference in South Africa, which was held Sept. 8 to 17 and had

the theme, “Benefits Beyond Boundaries.” The International Union

for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) holds the

event every 10 years in a different location. Previous conferences

have been held in Seattle, Yellowstone National Park, Indonesia and

Venezuela.

Michael Manfredo, a professor and chair of the Department of

Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism, explained the purpose of

the IUCN.

“It is the governing body of all the parks in the world. They

keep statistics about the world’s parks, and they advance research

and training,” Manfredo said.

Attendees of the conference had to be nominated by various

agencies or other professionals in the field, Manfredo said. He

believes CSU was lucky to have five people nominated and

accepted.

“For this particular event, they went through a strict

nomination process. They wanted broader representation from around

the world,” Manfredo said.

Most of the CSU faculty members who attended were funded by

outside sources. This speaks to the recognition of the excellent

faculty at CSU, Manfredo said.

Around 2,500 people attended from 187 countries, Newman

said.

“We were addressed by world leaders including Queen Noor from

Jordan and Nelson Mandela,” he said. “It was amazing because we

would participate in these workshops, and every time we stood up to

say something, we were translated into French, English and

Spanish.”

One of the best experiences for Newman and Manfredo was seeing

all the CSU alumni who attended the conference.

“That was the remarkable thing, to see all these people whose

lives have been touched by faculty. We got a chance to meet with

all these people whose lives we have touched,” Manfredo said.

Making contacts was also an important part of the conference for

Newman and Manfredo. Manfredo thinks these contacts will help

faculty and students in the future.

“We now have a network. We are committed to research together,”

Manfredo said. “As we make these contacts, it creates opportunities

for students and grad students.”

While the faculty members were in South Africa, they took time

to learn more about the culture. In particular, they observed

post-apartheid South Africa and also how AIDS affects the

country.

“What was amazing,” Newman said, ” was that 40 percent of the

people living in the region we were in were HIV-positive. These are

young people we are talking about. It’s just stunning. In natural

resources, they train twice as many people as they need because

they know many of them are going to die.”

Faculty members brought the information and experiences from the

World Parks Congress back to share with students. Newman said

attending the conference has influenced his teaching.

“It’s part of my parks class. My class for that week studied the

World Parks Congress. They all understood the themes of the

congress. They could get online and actually hear speakers. They

could participate virtually,” Newman said.

Kristen Bergeron, a senior natural resources recreation and

tourism major and student in Newman’s class, talked about how her

class studied the World Parks Conference.

“We were linked on WebCT and there was a discussion posting

where we got to discuss what was going on there. Peter (Newman)

wrote about once a week and encouraged us to write questions. He

really made us feel like we were involved in the decisions being

made there,” Bergeron said.

Newman summed up what he had learned about parks during his time

at the World Parks Congress.

“What we’ve learned is that it’s not about exporting ideas, but

importing them. It’s about learning how our ideas have morphed in

other countries, and how our ideas need to change,” Newman

said.

Manfredo also had a final thought concerning his visit to the

conference.

“We were all amazed at what we learned,” Manfredo said. “It all

trickled back to the students.”

 

 

 

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