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Puerto Rico Newspaper Features Holy Cross Professors’ Trip to Study the Effects of Hurricane María

El Nuevo Día
July 12th, 2019 by 

Holy Cross students and professors on a five-day study trip to the island of Puerto Rico. Photo by Angel Carrillo '19
Holy Cross students and professors on a five-day study trip to the island of Puerto Rico. Photo by Angel Carrillo '19

“At first look, history and microbiology may seem like disciplines with nothing in common. However, two Latina faculty members at the College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester MA, vehemently shattered the perceived boundaries between these disciplines to provide their students with a unique and long-lasting learning experience,” according to El Nuevo Día, one of the major newspapers in Puerto Rico.

The paper recently featured History Professor Rosa Carrasquillo‘s and Biology Professor Madeline Vargas‘s five-day study trip to the island with a group of 11 students, which served as the culmination of an interdisciplinary course taught by the two professors during the Spring 2019 semester.

During the trip, the students had an opportunity to apply what they had learned throughout the semester by getting a first-hand look at the lasting impacts of Hurricane María in the contexts of microbiology, health, history and colonial politics.

Carrasquillo believes that trip was “a great success.” “We focused on working with grassroots organizations of northeastern Puerto Rico, so that we observed not only the devastation caused by María, but also how Puerto Ricans are rebuilding their lives.”

Vargas added that she wanted her students to see first-hand that the effects of the hurricane extended from the material world to the microbiological and mental health of the population.

As a final assignment to the course, students applied the interdisciplinary approach to creating a podcast based on an article chosen by the group. The best three podcasts were featured by Ciencia Puerto Rico, a non-profit organization that promotes science, education, and research on the island.

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