About the Author: Erin Hatch serves in the State Department's Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science.
On Wednesday, June 17, the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science (OES) met with twenty undergraduate students from Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea who were competitively selected to participate in a “Study of the United States Institute on the Environment” (USIE) program, coordinated by the East-West Center and funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program provides a platform for international undergraduate students to meet with leading scientists, community leaders, business owners, state and federal government agencies, and NGO groups in the United States to discuss key environmental challenges with a focus on viable solutions. At the end of the program, each student is required to investigate a research question pertinent to environmental challenges facing his or her country of origin. During the six-week program, participants visited the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Oahu, the San Francisco and Monterey Bay area, and the District of Columbia.
Christine Dawson of OES's Biodiversity Team and Todd Capson in OES's Office of Marine Conservation provided an overview of the bureaus’ programs on biodiversity conservation for flora and fauna as well as sustainable fisheries management in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. NGO representatives from The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund spoke about recent successes with the Coral Triangle Initiative, a regional marine conservation program which aptly demonstrates multilateral partnering in achieving sustainable marine conservation and development.
An education and research organization, the East-West Center was established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific, and the United States. The Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs sponsors worldwide programs of international exchange, including the Study of the United States Institute on the Environment, to increase mutual understanding and empower the next generation of leaders with transformative experiences. OES looks forward to continuing its relationship with the East-West Center and was thrilled to host the promising scholars from ECA’s and East-West Center’s 2009 summer programming.