Research Tutorial Abroad Program in Puerto Rico

During summer 2019, I led a research tutorial abroad program for undergraduate students in Puerto Rico! If you checked out my previous posts, the program was originally planned for Haiti. However, due to demonstrations throughout the country, the U.S. Department of State issued a Level 4 travel warning [Do Not Travel] on April 15, 2019. As a result, the University of Florida cancelled all of their student abroad programs to the country. Luckily, Puerto Rico became an acceptable option!

The central research question that guided this summer program is, What do disaster experiences of Hurricane Maria, narrated by those in Puerto Rico, reveal about disaster risk, citizenship and nationhood? 

Map from Report (May 2019) by Centro director Edwin Melendez and Centro data researchers Jennifer Hinojosa and Kathya Severino Pietri entitled Population Loss and School Closures in Puerto Rico.

During this research program, students learned anthropological methods and engage in critical discussions on Puerto Rican history and society to approach disaster research. Students learned how to use ethnographic methods and digital tools to accomplish three objectives: 1) to identify common themes, categories, and associations regarding disaster risk, citizenship, and identity; 2) to document the collective discourses and understandings of aid and governance; and 3) to publicly share narratives and visual/audio materials to highlight the human experience and the need for local knowledge. The conclusion of this research program includes students creating a collaborative digital storytelling project of the narratives and of their experiences to contribute to engaged anthropology and public humanities. 

To learn more about this project, click on the “Undergraduate Researchers” and “Digital Scholarship” tabs under “Puerto Rico 2019.”