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MIT's Terrascope Program Seeks partnership with the Borikua Community

In our meeting with Ari W. Epstein from the Terrascope program at MIT, we explored a possible collaboration between Terrascope and the Taino Nation of Boriken. The Terrascope program addresses real sustainability challenges, focusing on engaging new undergraduate students in real-world problem-solving projects. In this learning community for students, Ari's team teaches an interdisciplinary approach to sustainability by seeking direct communication with the impacted communities. The incoming cohort will be studying sustainable electrical power solutions in Puerto Rico, with students designing and prototyping solutions. During our discussion, we also learned of other partners like Dine College and the University of Puerto Rico as part of Ari's goal of building long-term connections and mutual learning opportunities. Together we envisioned a group trip to Puerto Rico with a focus on community engagement and addressing challenges such as indigenous erasure, food and medicine safety post-hurricanes, and energy resilience. Our meeting concluded with plans to finalize logistics and maintain open communication channels for future collaboration. We are excited to engage with the students and combat erasure politics on the island.

Associate Director and Senior Lecturer in the Terrascope program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Terrascope is a learning community in which first-year undergraduates take ownership of their education as they address complex, real-world sustainability issues. In Terrascope, Epstein develops and teaches classes, advises first-year students, mentors Undergraduate Teaching Fellows, represents Terrascope and its work through publications and presentations at conferences, co-plans and co-leads Terrascope’s annual field trip, develops partnerships with other MIT units, develops and maintains relationships with community partners, and supports the program’s alumni community.

At the core of the Terrascope program is one basic but important idea: MIT students, even as first-year students, are ready to take control of their own education and to tackle big, important problems. With each new class of first-year students, Terrascope explores a different global issue – and it’s the students who take command. Our students work in teams to develop solutions, drawing on diverse perspectives, interdisciplinary research, and a supportive Terrascope community. Terrascope also offers the advantages of a small, vibrant community, plus academic advising, a unique curriculum, and extracurricular activities.

Each academic year, Terrascope hosts three events that are free and open to the public and showcase the final product of our students’ endeavors in the Terrascope classes. Members of the public are encouraged to attend these events and give feedback to our students. Additionally, the 12.000 Final Presentation is broadcast on our Facebook Page and the Radio Broadcast is broadcast on 88.1 WMBR, MIT’s radio station.

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