Fireside Chat with Fascinating Faculty: IES Abroad Quito's Dr. Hugo Valdebenito and the Biodiversity of Ecuador

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IES Abroad
August 31, 2021

In this installment of Fireside Chats with Fascinating Faculty, Gretchen Cook-Anderson, IES Abroad Associate Vice President, Assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Antiracism, and Director of Diversity Recruitment and Advising, gathers with Dr. Hugo Valdebenito, IES Abroad Quito Professor. The two discuss his work, history, and the environmental climate and biodiversity of Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. This Fireside Chat orients around conservation efforts and individual/collective responsibility to establishing and maintaining a sustainable environment in Ecuador.

As he shares about the future of the region, Dr. Valdebenito also touches upon the biodiversity and history of the small country noting how important it is to preserve this space. The interconnectivity of the bioclimate within Ecuador calls upon the environments around the rest of the world, fitting in perfectly with discussion of how we all are connected. Dr. Valdebenito offers solutions for development within Ecuador, including programs with international agencies, receiving aid, and learning skills such as ethical fishing and more.  

Gretchen calls attention to the present actions bringing about future change by considering Dr. Valdebenito’s approach to bringing issues in Ecuador to light in the classroom. He responds that students engage in fieldwork, connecting with the local community and world around them, using the land and the people as the core of their learning. Discussion follows their excursions to expand on what they observed, what they would change, and how, allowing the students to engage in real-time with changing the world around them. He states, “In order to teach these kind of classes and courses, you have to became very broad and not just teach environmental issues but social issues,” noting again the interconnectivity of many moving parts within our experience.  

Watch or listen as Gretchen and Dr. Valdebenito adventure through Ecuador in this educational episode of Fireside Chats and expand your world by learning about the vastness of Ecuador.

About Dr. Hugo Valdebenito: 

Dr. Hugo Valdebenito earned his Ph.D. in Botany from The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio, USA) in 1990. He subsequently served as Head of Botany at the Charles Darwin Research Station, Galápagos Islands and since 1994 has been Professor in the College of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito, Ecuador. His interests include teaching and research in botany, ecology and wildlife conservation on the Flora of the Galápagos Islands and mainland Ecuador. He has authored more than 30 scientific papers and participated in several national and international meetings. Hugo has been associated with IES Abroad Quito & Galápagos Island Center since 2007 teaching courses concerning the Environmental Diversity of Ecuador.

“In order to teach these kind of classes and courses, you have to became very broad and not just teach environmental issues but social issues.”
Dr. Hugo Valdebenito | IES Abroad Quito Professor

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