St. George’s University Welcomes High School and College Students to the 2015 Med/Vet Summer Leadership Academy

Hands on Activities Provide Students with an Introduction to Medical and Veterinary Medical Careers

Successfully balancing a challenging academic program with extracurricular activities, 81 students recently participated in St. George’s University Med/Vet Summer Leadership Academy, a summer program on the True Blue Campus in Grenada, West Indies for college and high school students interested in exploring a career in medicine or veterinary medicine.

Students from the United States, England, Canada, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Tortola, and Grenada participated in activities that highlighted the culture and beauty of Grenada in addition to courses that combined didactic lectures, small-group problem solving sessions, practical lab work in state-of-the art facilities, and hands-on training through simulated and real-life situations.

Attending this year’s Med/Vet Summer Leadership Academy were Matt and Maria Coppola, a brother and sister duo interested in internal medicine and veterinary medicine respectively. As the children of Drs. Matthew and Carmela Coppola, who met at SGU and were both part of SGUSOM’s graduating class of 1984, the beautiful St. George’s True Blue campus overlooking the Caribbean Sea seemed all too familiar to them.

“We’ve spent our entire lives hearing stories about how our parents met each other for the first time here at SGU and what an amazing experience they both had while going to school here,” said Matt, a pre-med senior majoring in bio-chemistry. “This has been an incredible experience, not only did we learn about what it would be like to attend classes here but we also had a lot of fun exploring Grenada through snorkeling, hiking and island touring,” said Maria, a pre-vet sophomore studying biology.

Now in its thirteenth year, both the Med/Vet Summer Leadership Academy provides college students the added benefit of Medical Leadership concepts integrated into the curriculum with an introduction to international health care systems, global public health issues, and the concept of “One Health, One Medicine” as it affects healthcare delivery throughout the world.

The high school student program ran for ten days from June 24 to July 3 while the Medical Leadership component of the college student program ran for 12 days from June 8-19. Qualified students are eligible for college credit through the School of Arts and Sciences.

St. George’s University Hosts 60th Diamond Jubilee Anniversary of the CARPHA Health Research Conference

Caribbean Health Professional Focus on Violence and Injury Prevention as Urgent Public Health Issue

Caribbean nations’ health professionals recently gathered at St. George’s University to discuss violence and injuries prevention as an urgent public health and development issue at the 60th Annual Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Conference.

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St. George’s University (SGU) in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Grenada and the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) partnered together to host the conference and 14 satellite conferences at its True Blue Campus in June. The region’s leading authorities in health research, and the Deans and Directors of most of the regions leading academic and research institutions were in attendance.

Addressing 200 delegates at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Health, the Honorable Nicholas Steele, welcomed the largest group of CARPHA delegates to Grenada and stated that their deliberations and outcomes had important economic implications for the region.
“Spending $100.00 on prevention today is repaid many times over in the prevention of disease at a later time” said the Honorable Minister Steele.

Dr. James Hospedales, the Executive Director of CARPHA stated that the conference was now the longest running health research conference in the entire region, and Dr. Donald Simeon, Deputy Executive Director and Director of Research of CARPHA, reported that a special edition of the West Indian Medical Journal would be produced highlighting how the research presented at the conference had been translated into policy.

Dr. Calum Macpherson, Vice Provost of SGU and Director of WINDREF, highlighted the evolution of the University since the last time the CARPHA Conference was held in Grenada in 2004.

“The University has grown enormously since the last time we hosted the conference with our accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for our DVM program and accreditation of our MPH program from the Council on Education for Public Health accreditation,” Dr. Macpherson said.

He also highlighted that the largest number of students in conference history had attended, taking advantage of the opportunity to meet many of the leading authorities in health research from the region and internationally.

The Master of Ceremonies, Dr. George Mitchell, Grenada’s Chief Medical Officer, shared his enthusiasm for co-hosting the Conference. “The CARPHA Conference is a partnership which holds great promise for translating research into policy for the benefit of the peoples of the region,” he said.

A record number of over 178 oral and poster presentations were made during the conference covering the theme of “Violence and Injuries Prevention: an Urgent Public Health and Development Issue’” as well as other research topics relevant to the Caribbean region such as communicable diseases like Chikungunya. SGU’s faculty, students and collaborators contributed 28 oral and poster presentations to the meeting.

Dr. Donald T. Simeon, Deputy Executive Director and Director of Research, Training and Policy Development, CARPHA shared his thoughts on the importance of the conference as, “a treasured standard-bearer for the protection of the health of the Caribbean peoples that has stood the test of time. I am privileged to have been associated with the Conference first as a researcher, then as Scientific Secretary and now as Director of Research. We are well poised for 60 more years of service; facilitating the generation and uptake of the research evidence required for improved health and wellness.”

The conference was preceded by 14 satellite meetings and these together with the health research conference brought more than 250 delegates from all the CARICOM countries, the US, the UK and Canada. The satellite meetings comprised The Chief Medical Officer’s Annual Meeting which was chaired by Dr. Rudolph Cummings, MD, MPH, to which 16 CARICOM CMO’s attended. The Technical Advisory Committee Meeting, Data Analysis Workshop, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), Built Environment, Evidence Informed Policy Workshop, Policy Dialogue/Research to Policy, Launch of Evidence, School Debate, Research Advisory Committee Meeting, Regional Communications Meeting, and a Town Hall Meeting, which was held in Gouyave. During the banquet at the end of the Conference Professors Fletcher (Dean of Medicine, UWI Mona), Susan Walker (Director, Tropical Medicine Research Institute, Jamaica), and David Chadee, UWI St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, were honoured for their outstanding contributions to health research in the region.

“The hosting of all the satellite meetings and the conference afforded many opportunities for informal discussions on forging future research partnerships and collaborations” said Dr. Cal Macpherson, Director of Research for SGU. “We welcome the development of partnerships within the region” said Dr. Pensick, Provost of SGU, and it was a pleasure to have so many regional health care professionals visit our campus.

About CARPHA
The CARPHA Conference is the largest health research conference in the English speaking Caribbean with participants comprised of researchers, policy makers and health care providers. The Caribbean Public Health Agency is a merger of five previous regional health institutions (RHIs) namely the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC), Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI), Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI) and the Caribbean Research Drug Testing Laboratory (CRDTL).
Next year’s CARPHA Conference will be held in the Turks and Caicos.

 

UNFCCC RCC – St. George’s Promotes Clean Technology Business Opportunities

The effects of human activity on climate change, especially rising sea levels, are particularly devastating to coastal regions and island nations. In light of this, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Regional Collaborating Center based at St. George’s University (UNFCCC RCC – St. George’s) recently held a workshop highlighting opportunities for clean technologies that can ultimately help stem climate change while also providing economic benefit to countries and businesses through the chance to participate in the carbon market.

unfccc rcc

“The UNFCCC RCC – St. George’s can help businesses tap into trade in the carbon market by connecting them with governments and institutions that are buying emission reduction credits from clean technology projects,” said Dr. Karla Solis-Garcia, Team Lead of UNFCCC RCC – St. George’s.

When businesses and governments implement clean technology projects or reduce their emissions in different ways, they will earn credits which can then be sold in what is known as the carbon market. The workshop, which targeted businesses, governments, and other stakeholders from Grenada and the Caribbean, addressed how to secure funding, and gain financial reward for implementing clean technology projects. It also brought together holders of existing clean development mechanism, or CDM, projects in the Caribbean to promote the exchange of ideas and experiences.

One of the workshop’s highlights was a presentation by Peer Stiansen, Norwegian Ministry of Environment, whose government seeks to buy clean technology emission reduction credits – just one of the opportunities for Caribbean businesses and governments to earn returns on their climate-saving projects. There are more than 20 projects currently underway in the Caribbean, all of which are registered under the UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism and have the potential to trade their emission reduction credits in the carbon market. The hotel, transportation, and waste management industries, as well as others with high energy consumption levels, are all well placed to benefit from opportunities presented at the workshop.

“Taking care of the environment is an investment that can bring significant financial returns,” said Dr. Solis-Garcia. “Funds are available through various channels that will provide investment to implement clean technologies, and these technologies can be financially feasible in the long run. RCC St. George’s mission is to provide technical support to those businesses interested in taking part of the shift to a cleaner economic path.”

For information on how to become a part of this initiative, persons may contact UNFCCC RCC – St. George’s via email at rccstgeorges@unfccc.int, telephone at +1 473 553 88 25, or through its website.

BSEC Forum Brings Caribbean Issues to the Fore

At the annual conference of the Bioethics Society of the English-Speaking Caribbean (BSEC) held on November 16 at St. George’s University (SGU) and hosted by SGU’s Bioethics Department, speakers delved into a wide range of topics relevant to the Caribbean, including child abuse and corporal punishment. Dr. Barbara Landon, neuropsychologist and Associate Professor at St. George’s University, along with colleague Ms. Lauren Orlando, presented on the topic.

“Even though there are all kinds of laws to protect adults against assault, the rights of children in the Caribbean are not fully protected despite the fact that every country is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Dr. Landon. Dr. Landon has taken a special interest in the effects of corporal punishment on children and cited the research supporting the negative effects child abuse has on the developing brain, her area of expertise. “The agreement is profound throughout the literature: corporal punishment has a huge effect on both mental and physical health.”

2014 news bsec forum brings-caribbean issues to-the fore

Dr. Landon and Ms. Orlando encouraged using alternative methods of discipline. “There are so many more skillful ways to raise children, discipline them, and teach them right from wrong that do not include hitting,” said Ms. Orlando. “If parents and children are not given better examples of how to discipline, the cycle of violence will continue.”

In addition to demonstrating the effects of severe corporal punishment on the brain— which include reduced executive function, decreased IQ, and increased likelihood of mental disorders, the team discussed some of the archaic laws, relics of the Caribbean’s history of colonialism, which permit corporal punishment.

Corporal punishment was only one of several topics discussed at the BSEC forum by experts in various fields. Topics included bio-similar pharmaceuticals, high-technology in medicine, climate change, conservation, clinical ethics, and student consumerism. A diverse mix of nationalities and professions were represented by presenters and audience members. Among those delivering presentations were Dr. Cheryl CoxMacpherson, BSEC President and Chair of SGU’s Bioethics Department; Dr. Derrick Aarons, consultant bioethicist and Past President of BSEC; Dr. Dale Jamieson, Professor of Environmental Studies and Director of the Animal Studies Initiative at NYU; and Dr. Sean Philpott, Director of  the Bioethics Program at Union Graduate College.

Dr. Macpherson, BSEC President, was very pleased at the outcome of this year’s event. “I am always genuinely fascinated by the content and quality of the talks at our annual fora and this one as much as ever,” she commented. “The beauty of it is that although we come from so many different disciplines, we try to find a common language where we can learn from each other and provide fresh insight. This forum has brought these issues to a broad range of people so with respect to the health impacts of climate change, for example, we can all begin to think about both mitigation and adaptation.”

BSEC, established in 2006 by founding members from several Caribbean states, aims to increase knowledge and understanding of bioethics through promoting and fostering deliberations across the English-speaking Caribbean and through international collaboration. Its goal is to make a significant contribution to the overall development and implementation of bioethics in human and animal healthcare, research and policy-making. The next BSEC annual forum will be hosted in Jamaica in 2014.

St. George’s University and Mahidol University International College in Thailand Announce Joint Partnership

University to offer Dual Degree BS/MD Program for Premed Students

St. George’s University has joined with Mahidol University International College (MUIC) in Salaya, Thailand, to offer students an opportunity to obtain a dual BS/MD degree. Through the partnership, qualified students will be able to pursue a career in medicine at St. George’s University (SGU) following successful completion of three years of premedicine at Mahidol University.

“We are excited to offer this opportunity to premed students at Mahidol University,” said Margaret Lambert, Dean of Enrolment Planning at St. George’s University. “Mahidol University is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in Thailand, and its International College, like St. George’s University, is committed to the benefits of a truly international education.  We are a good fit for the training of doctors in the 21st century. We look forward to the addition of the MUIC students to the fabric of our True Blue campus.”

newsmahidolApplicants interested in the dual degree program must meet all admission requirements of Mahidol University (MUIC) and St. George’s University School of Medicine program. Once admitted to the dual degree program, and after successfully completing three years of undergraduate study at MUIC, qualified students will proceed to the first year of the medical program at St. George’s University. Upon successful completion of the first year of the MD program at SGU, qualified students will have fulfilled the requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree from MUIC and will be eligible to complete the remaining three years of study at SGU leading to the MD degree.

In addition to the partnership with Mahidol University, St. George’s maintains partnerships in the United States and United Kingdom with the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)/Albert Dorman Honors CollegeSt. Michael’s Medical CenterCaldwell CollegeFranklin Pierce UniversitySt. Thomas UniversityUniversity of the SciencesMonmouth University, Widener UniversityNorthumbria UniversityAbbey DLD Group of Colleges, and University of the West of England. The University has similar partnerships with schools in Canada, Bermuda, Grenada, Guyana, Hong Kong, and Uganda.

About St. George’s University 
St. George’s University is a center of international education, drawing students and faculty from 140 countries to the island of Grenada, in the West Indies, to its programs in medicine, veterinary medicine, public health, science, and business. St. George’s is affiliated with educational institutions worldwide, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Ireland. The University’s over 14,000 graduates include physicians, veterinarians, scientists, and public health and business professionals across the world. The University programs are accredited and approved by many governing authorities and repeatedly recognized as the best in the region.

About Mahidol University International College
Initially established in 1986 as the International Students Degree Program (ISDP), Mahidol University International College (MUIC) was Thailand’s first international bachelor’s degree program at a public university with its mission to produce well-rounded graduates and to excel in broad international education research and academic services for the benefit of humankind. MUIC maintains a strong liberal arts focus and promotes a learning culture that prepares its students to meet the challenges of living and working in a diverse and globalized world.

St. George’s University, Regis College Announce Combined Degree Program

Students at Regis College, a private, liberal arts institution in Weston, Massachusetts, now have the opportunity to fast-track their medical or veterinary medical education through a new combined degree program forged with St. George’s University this fall.

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Through the partnership, students who complete three years of pre-medicine or pre-veterinary medicine coursework at Regis and meet admission standards can enter St. George’s University’s medical or veterinary medical programs. Upon finishing their first basic sciences year at SGU, they will have fulfilled the requirements for their Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor or Science degree from Regis, and be on track to obtain their MD or DVM with three additional years of study.

All together, they will have earned both their undergraduate and graduate degrees in seven years, one fewer year than the traditional path.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for those interested in medicine or veterinary medicine to receive a well-rounded education and reach their goals,” said Charles R. Modica, Chancellor at St. George’s University. “By the time they have completed their coursework here and at Regis, they will have been trained to establish and maintain a successful career and make an impact in their chosen field.”

To qualify, pre-medical students must meet grade point average and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) requirements as well as all other admission standards at SGU to be promoted. Pre-veterinary medical students must maintain a competitive GPA and register a competitive score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in addition to meeting SGU’s admission criteria.

“This agreement creates a direct acceptance into St. George’s and gives our undergraduates a tremendous opportunity to continue his or her educational path into medical or veterinary school while having a global experience,” said David Gilmore, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs at Regis.

Students must express interest in the combined degree program upon entering Regis. After completing three years at Regis, they may choose to finish their degree at Regis and proceed to SGU thereafter, contingent upon meeting the prerequisite standards at SGU.

Regis College is a multifaceted Catholic university in greater Boston with 2100 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students in the arts, sciences and health professions devoted to engage, serve and advance in a global community. With a strategic graduate focus on health care, Regis College was recently named a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League of Nursing for the second time. The College also provides a pre-school and a Life Long Learning Program (LLARC) for retired seniors. Visit Regis on the Web at www.regiscollege.edu.

St. George’s University is a center of international education, drawing students and faculty from over 140 countries to the island of Grenada, West Indies. St. George’s is affiliated with educational institutions worldwide, including in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Ireland. The University has contributed over 14,000 physicians, veterinarians, scientists, and public health and business professionals who are studying across the world. The University programs are accredited and approved by many governing authorities. For more information, visit www.sgu.edu.

SGU Faculty Member Helps Secure Grant to Groom New Conservation Leaders

A $125,000 grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for a new leadership-training program based at St. George’s University has ensured that young conservationists will be prepared to lead the region toward establishing and maintaining healthy, functional ecosystems for many years to come. Set to begin in May 2015, the Conservation Leadership in the Caribbean (CLiC) program aims to jumpstart the careers of 20 young professionals by teaching them the skills to launch, develop, and implement successful conservation campaigns, while connecting them with existing leaders in the field.

news easter pilcher clic board-of-directors and past coordinator

“We hope to facilitate the development and empowerment of capable individuals by equipping them with the essential skills to be future leaders in the realm of conservation,” said Dr. Andrea Easter-Pilcher, a Professor in SGU’s Department of Biology, Ecology, and Conservation and one of three Academic Advisors on CLiC’s Board of Directors. “The participants will be working over international borders on project teams made up of other young leaders from different countries, which will provide valuable experience they can take with them in their careers.”

CLiC expands upon a two-year pilot leadership-training program, Caribbean Emerging Wildlife Conservation (CEWCL), which mimicked the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) training program, a successful venture in the US for the past decade. CLiC candidates must be Caribbean or Latin American residents and have completed their bachelor’s degree in a related field. Selectees will be broken up into five teams, and each team will launch a research conservation initiative with the help of an assigned mentor. A second training session will take place at SGU in May 2016, and the participants will graduate from the program in October 2016. Throughout the eighteen- month period, students will work collaboratively toward the initiative’s end goal of effective regional networking and action to achieve sustainable conservation across the region.

The program is funded by the USFWS Division of International Conservation’s Wildlife Without Borders program. Grant funds will be used predominantly to facilitate travel and lodging for participants taking academic courses within the program’s curriculum, as well as stipends for course professors. Dr. Easter-Pilcher hopes that, like its counterpart in the US, the CLiC training program will become a recurring opportunity for emerging conservation leaders in the region, including graduates of SGU’s marine, wildlife, and conservation biology program.

“The investment being made will pay dividends for marine and terrestrial conservation across the Caribbean and Latin America by strengthening professional conservation capacity of emerging leaders,” Dr. Easter-Pilcher said. “Successful graduates of the program are expected to take up leadership roles in their home countries as well as hold their own in the international conservation arena.”

The CLiC program is directed by Nadra Nathai-GyanConservation Advisor to the Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago. She and Dr. Easter-Pilcher are joined on the Board of Directors by Kelvin Alie, Washington DC Program Director, Wildlife Trade, International Fund for Animal Welfare; Dr. Leo Douglas, President, BirdsCaribbean; Michelle Behnam, Producer, Discovery Learning Alliance; and Dr. Heather E. Eves, Visiting Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech University, and Professorial Lecturer, Johns Hopkins University. The board will enlist the help of many experts and known conservationists in the region who have expressed interest in participating as mentors, trainers, or in another capacity.

“CLiC is an initiative that was long overdue,” Ms. Nathai-Gyan said. “Among its many merits is the opportunity it affords for those of us in the Caribbean who have attained leadership attributes to transfer our skills and knowledge to those whom we are now entrusting our natural heritage.”

St. George’s University Present at International Academy of Pathology Conference in Thailand

Drs. Shivayogi and Bharti Bhusnurmath, Co-Chairs of St. George’s University’s Department of Pathology, presented at the International Academy of Pathology (IAP) Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, in October. IAP is the largest international organization for pathologists across the globe, and the conference will present multi-track content across the breadth of pathology, showcasing products, services, and technology through a scientific program and workshops presented by world-class speakers and experts in their field.

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The Bhusnurmaths presented on how to teach critical clinical reasoning through the pathology course. According to Dr. Shivayogi Bhusnurmath, Dean of Academic Development at St. George’s University, “This topic is important for every physician because they need to have a scientific and logical basis for every step of their interaction with the patient to be good doctors.” He stated, “This includes reasoning as to what questions to ask when taking a patient’s history, what activities and laboratory investigations to do when examining a patient, how these will help make a clear diagnosis and manage the patient better.”

Additionally, they moderated a session titled “Frontiers in Pathology” at the meeting, presenting papers on designing teaching labs in pathology to encourage active learning in a clinical context and the use of concept maps in teaching pathology. Dr. Bhusnurmath estimated that SGU students have developed more than 100,000 concept maps over the past 12 years as part of the pathology course, allowing students to think critically and communicate effectively.

“SGU is probably the only medical school in the world where this activity is a mandatory part of the course,” he said. “The presentations at the IAP Conference aim to demonstrate how we teach clinical reasoning skills. It is a matter of pride for us to showcase the academic developments at St. George’s University to this vast international gathering.”

St. George’s University Faculty Present Strategies for Student Development at AMEE Conference in Milan

Three members of the St. George’s University faculty recently presented at the 2014 Association of Medical Educators of Europe (AMEE) conference in Milan, Italy, joining thousands of participants from 90 countries worldwide who shared their knowledge and expertise in education in the fields of medicine, veterinary medicine, nursing, and dentistry.

Dr. Nitsa Topale, Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine and Coordinator of the Individual Advancement/Program for Academic Success in the Department of Educational Services (DES), presented her research on how strategies used by high-achieving students can help new and underachieving students succeed, in her poster titled: “Standing Out From the Rest: How Do Wellness, Engagement, and Management of Cognitive Demands Contribute to the Success of our Best Students?”

“High-achieving students are indeed doing the very things student support professionals recommend,” said Dr. Topale. “They share a similar profile with respect to exercise, sleep, time management, stress level, lecture attendance, and their approach to learning and self-assessment. These students can be the link between what faculty and the literature indicate medical students should be doing to succeed, and what successful students are actually doing. They can serve as peer mentors and contribute to student success initiatives.”

One unique aspect of the AMEE conference is the fringe presentation. With varied formats, the 15-minute presentations provide new and provocative or idiosyncratic approaches to medical education with an emphasis on creativity, performance, and audience engagement. Dr. Robert Hage delivered one such presentation titled “Do as You Should Do and Forget What You Saw or Heard.”

Dr. Hage’s presentation dealt with how educators often display habits different to the ones they advise students to cultivate. “We teach students what they are supposed to do but soon afterward they may realize that we don’t do what we tell them to do,” he said. His presentation encouraged observing the habits of colleagues but doing so critically and being able to explain the reasons for one’s actions. It also emphasized the importance of observation and teaching students to be observant.

Dr. Bill Blunt presented a poster of research done along with Dr. Andre Havenga and Dr. Topale titled “Ten Approaches to Academic Development for the Basic Medical Sciences: Achieving Quality with Large Classes.” Developed after critical analysis of best practices by the Department of Education Services (DES) and other SGU departments, the team found that larger class sizes do not compromise learning when an entire university community adopts strategies to support student learning autonomy.

“The poster summarized the enormous range of ways in which SGU helps students,” said Dr. Blunt, Deputy Chair, Director of Faculty Development, and Professor at DES. “SGU has developed a unique student support program that focuses on developing students’ autonomy and resilience rather than support strategies that encourage dependency. Of course, our strategies do not aim to make it easy for students. There’s no easy way through medical school.”

The foundation of the SGU approach is to build the resilience and strength of students, putting the responsibility for learning back on the students. “In truth, students who don’t get to the point of being self-driven in medical school usually won’t make it through,” continued Dr. Blunt. “We work to ensure our students develop this skill early on rather than leaving them to learn it on their own.”

The 10 strategies highlighted through the research are geared to successfully engage and empower students to take control of their own learning through self management, problem solving, reflective thinking, and collaborative learning. Academic development strategies include providing adequate orientation for students, development of learning strategies for students in large classes, and expert academic advice and early intervention and remediation.

St. George’s University Hosts Coastal Tourism Conference

Urgent Action Needed to Adapt To Effects of Climate Change for the Caribbean

news sealy hughThe Caribbean’s beauty is unmatched, and each year the region attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. The tourism industry is at its core, which is why Caribbean leaders are making every effort to preserve it.

St. George’s University recently hosted the CTO-CREST Third Executive Symposium for Innovators in Coastal Tourism, a conference covering topics such as sustainable financing for conservation, sustainable coastal tourism, eco-certification, marine recreation, marketing and branding, community engagement, and best practices for beach and shoreline protection. Presenters and participants from across the region painted a bleak picture if action isn’t taken: rising sea levels, increasing coral-melting acidification of the ocean, intensifying weather systems and storm surges, and other spinoff effects that could drastically affect the region’s tourism industry, the main source of income for many of the islands.

“Coming from the symposium, I hope that hoteliers and other tourism officials will gain a greater understanding of how to adapt to some of the inevitable impacts of climate change,” said Dr. Hugh Sealy, the Director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Track in SGU’s Department of Public Health and Chair of the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

“Hotel owners can help with proper design, doing things like wastewater treatment and recycling to protect the coral reefs, and lobbying their governments to begin to act. Governments need to begin planning immediately as it takes a considerable time to have coastal defenses designed, funded, and implemented.”

Dr. Sealy participated in a three-member panel of experts that also included SGU graduate Angus Friday, Grenada’s Ambassador to the United States and Mexico and to the Organization of American States (OAS, and Honorable Nicholas Steele, Grenada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Business. The panel discussed the serious threat facing the islands, calling for urgent mitigation and preparation. In it, Dr. Sealy warned that “to have a reasonable chance of keeping warming below 1.5°C or even 2°C, the world has to rapidly decarbonize.”

Dr. Friday, MD SGU ‘91, encouraged the Caribbean to recognize, teach about, and harness the value of its biodiversity as a means of inspiring its nationals to preserve its natural resources, care for the environment, and reduce their carbon footprints.

“We are at the dawn of a new era; it is the first time human beings and human civilizations have started to change the very nature of the world we live in,” said Dr. Friday. “Following Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Grenadians became actively interested in climate change and real advocates for its mitigation. If a small island like Grenada can move in this direction, it gives me great hope that other economies can do the same.”

Mr. Steele spoke of several plans that Grenada has in the pipeline to promote conservation and renewable energy and encouraged nations to take seriously the threats posed by climate change and act urgently to mitigate them.