One of the many things that The ACEER Foundation does is provide field-based, experiential learning programs for individuals and groups from around the world. From May 9-20 of 2016, representatives from the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) had the unique opportunity to participate in one such learning program. After reaching out to ACEER, DEWA was able to customize its own workshop experience in Peru with the intended goals of seeing first hand the effects of climate change and achieving an understanding of some of the different perspectives on and methods of combatting it.
Dr. Paul Morgan, professor at West Chester University and chair of the board of the ACEER Foundation, was able to accompany and lead the DEWA group on their trip. He witnessed the shift in perspective that occurred for the group when the itinerary moved on from the heady indoor PowerPoint presentations and sharing of ideas through conversation and lecture, to the more field based, experiential portion of the trip.
Dr. Morgan said of this change, “We got on the plane and we flew to Puerto Maldonado. From there we really got to experience things, that’s where you could really tell that things were happening for them, because they were recognizing that this was a once in a lifetime experience. It was no longer just an intellectual exercise but also very much experiential.”
One of the DEWA group’s field experiences was a visit to a hydroelectric plant where they were able to see first hand how it operates and speak with representatives that, as Dr. Morgan states, are from “a country who is doing things very differently.” Dubai is fueled by fossil fuels, but its leaders understand that change needs to occur; the DEWA group’s journey into the Peruvian Amazon was an effort towards experiencing and learning about different, sustainable, ways of doing the same things.
Jon Cox, faculty member at The University of Delaware and an ACEER delegation member who was in charge of documenting the workshop, noted that the experience was valuable for the DEWA group because “learning about different people around the world and what they’re doing to combat climate change and how they’re utilizing their environment is just going to enhance what they’re doing in Dubai.”
The Dubai Water and Electricity Authority is taking it upon itself to learn more about sustainability around the world. Through ACEER, participants were able to do that with hands on experience in the Peruvian Amazon not only by interacting and observing indigenous peoples and seeing how they use the land without destroying it, but also through the opportunity to speak with their Peruvian counterparts to learn more about how water and electricity operations are handled in the country.
The Dubai workshop is best summed up by the words of Professor Cox when he states, “At the end of the program it was clear the challenges we face are on a global scale and it will take people from all walks of life to come up with innovative solutions. Cross cultural programs like this, that connect people from around the globe break down cultural barriers and have a lasting effect that reach beyond the program participants.”