Montana Meets Vietnam
At first blush, you’d imagine that Montana and Vietnam don’t have much in common. One place is largely dry and, at the moment, bitterly cold; the other is wet and tropical. Beyond that, you’d probably be hard pressed to get a good bowl of Pho in Montana (or a Rocky Mountain oyster, come to think of it, in Hanoi). I could be completely wrong about both, of course.
But in both places, agriculture is a big part of the economy. Both have significant rural populations. And both Vietnam and Montana are likely to suffer major impacts over the rest of this century as a result of climate change.
And that’s why nine University of Montana students and a couple of faculty members are in Vietnam countryside right now. They’ll be there through much of January on a mini-study-abroad program, co-sponsored by Can Tho University, located in the country’s Mekong Delta, to study the intertwined relationships of society, environment, and economy, to look at the potential impacts of climate change on each of these, and to see how people are adapting, or planning to adapt, to the coming changes.
Among other things, the students will be spending several days in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), taking field trips to coastal fishing communities, meeting with rice and aquaculture farmers, and visiting cultural sites. They’ll also travel to mangrove forests in Ca Mau Province, wetlands in Tram Chim National Park (one of the last natural wetlands in the Plain of Reeds wetland system), Can Tho University field experiment stations, and the resort island of Phu Quoc.
-Michael Lemonick, Climatecentral.org
Dr. Len Broberg
Dr. Len Broberg is the Director of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Montana and leader of the UM Transboundary Policy, Planning and Management Initiative (TPPMI) since 1999, an international graduate program. As a Professor in the Environmental Studies Program he teaches courses concerning the implementation of science into policy with a focus on biodiversity, forests and climate change, drawing on his experience as a lawyer and a biologist. Len has a PhD in Biology from the University of Oregon and a JD from Wayne State University.
Nicky Phear is a faculty member at the University of Montana where she coordinates and teaches for the Climate Change Studies Program. UM’s new Climate Change Studies minor offers students a multidisciplinary understanding of climate change and involves them in developing potential solutions. She co-teaches the introductory Climate Change: Science and Society course and develops experiential learning opportunities for students through internships, practicums, and field courses. Nicky has an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and is pursuing a PhD through Prescott College in Sustainability Education.
Partially due to her patriotic name, Montana Hodges has traveled throughout the western United States as a freelance writer. Her works include a series of outdoor books for Falcon Guides. She currently lives aside the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Mont., where she is anxiously awaiting the day royalties exceed expenses. Montana is looking forward to the remarkable opportunity through UM to study the unique contrast between climate change issues along the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and the mountainous inland environment of Montana.
Kevin Radley is a striving environmental documentary photographer. He has traveled the globe observing various human environmental interactions while studying conservation and development issues. Currently, he is living in Missoula, Mont., focusing his master’s in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism on sustainable development.
Trina Jones is from Washougal, Washington and is a first year Environmental Studies graduate student at the University of Montana. She graduated in May from Washington State University with her Bachelor’s in Journalism. She has been to Kenya and the Netherlands before but never to Asia. She joined this course because she is interested in climate change impacts and solutions around the world. After she graduates next Fall, Trina hopes to work for an international NGO advocating to reverse climate injustice.
Bryan Zimmerman was born and raised in Billings, Mont. and has lived in Missoula for four years now. Being an avid angler and outdoorsman, natural resource protection has always been an important issue and eventually led to his area of study. Bryan is currently a senior in the recreation resource management program at the University of Montana and aspires to continue in that field on a professional level. Vietnam is on the forefront of climate change and Bryan is interested to see how it affects the country, especially in terms of recreation and eco-tourism.
Hailey Graf was born and raised in the small town of Whitefish, Mont. She is currently a wildlife biology major at the University of Montana. If everything goes according to plan she will graduate this May. Hailey’s curiosity in Vietnam stems from her wondering lust to travel and see the rest of the world. She is interested in the human dynamics behind resource conservation and climate change. Simply, she would like to observe how different people are being affected and what they are doing about it.
Stephan Licitra is studying to complete his Climate Change Studies minor after receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. Stephan enjoys learning about new cultures and ideas while working with various groups of people. Studying in Vietnam is an opportunity for Stephan to communicate and learn from a culture other then his own.
Monica Lomahukluh is a junior at the University of Montana studying Resource conservation with a minor in Restoration Ecology. She was born in Tuba City, Arizona, but calls Helena, Montana home. Ever since freshmen year of college, Monica wanted to travel the world, and experience different cultures. The Vietnam study abroad program allows her the opportunity to fulfill her goals. With limited travel experience, Monica is anxious to start a new chapter in her life.
Cameron Cotner is from Camino, California. Before coming to the University of Montana, he received his Associate of Arts degree from Folsom Lake Community College. Currently, he is a senior at the University of Montana studying international resource conservation, which sparked from his enjoyment of outdoor activities. Upon graduation from UM, he plans to join the Peace Corps to further study conservation issues abroad. Cameron is eager for the opportunity to learn about the role of climate change in the Mekong Delta. He looks forward to all the interesting people he may meet during his stay and the beautiful warm weather of the delta.
Patrick Shelso aka mini Tom Cruise is a sophomore at the University of Montana where he is majoring in geography. Outside the classroom Patrick participates in lacrosse and enjoys hockey and skiing. UM’s Vietnam study abroad is Patrick’s first trip outside the continental U.S. He hopes to study the ways climate change will affect people living in low-lying coastal areas.