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The Global School Virtual Event Series: LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

Wednesday, December 02, 2020
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

The Global School Virtual Event Series is a year long celebration of The Global School at WPI and aims to highlight and grow the projects, research, and collaborations WPI has all over the world while focusing on global grand challenge themes.

On Demand Content

Sustainability and WPI Collaborations in Latin America and the Caribbean

WPI's New Sustainability Plan

The Amazon Near a Tipping Point The Need for a Novel Bioeconomy of Forests Standing & Rivers Flowing

WPI Faculty Research in Latin America and Caribbean Studies

Three Decades of Growing Engagement w/ Communities & Sustainability in Latin America & the Caribbean

Student Testimonials from Latin American and Caribbean Project Centers

COVID-19 and the Economy in Latin American and the Caribbean


To learn more about WPI's programs and work in the region, visit

1:00 - 1:30 pm Welcome, Introduction, and Highlights of WPI's New Sustainability Plan
John Galante, Wole Soboyejo, Jeff Solomon, and Paul Mathisen
1:30 - 2:20 pm

The Amazon Near a Tipping-Point: The Need for a Novel Bioeconomy of Forests Standing and Rivers Flowing
The Amazon forest is very near a tipping point of irreversible savannization. The dry season has become 3 to 4 weeks longer and 3° C hotter in southern Amazon, where wet-climate tree species mortality rates are increasing. Within just 15 to 30 years, if current rates of global warming, deforestation, and fires continue, that tipping point could be breached. The biodiversity and indigenous populations in the Amazon that are at risk of being decimated by savannization have been under attack for the last 50 years from a resource-intensive development model that includes a focus on industrial agriculture, mining, the oil and gas sector, and the construction of large hydroelectric facilities on Amazonian rivers. Saving the Amazon for the future requires a new and innovative development model now that can keep forests standing and rivers flowing while bringing well-being and prosperity to Amazonian populations – and forest peoples especially. Project Amazonia 4.0 calls for the introduction of a socio-biodiversity-driven bioeconomy for the Amazon that combines traditional knowledge with modern technologies from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, thereby creating value from natural forest products and pursuing social inclusiveness through development. 

Carlos Nobre

2:20 - 2:30 pm WPI Faculty Research in Latin America and Caribbean Studies
2:30 - 3:10 pm

Three Decades of Growing Engagement with Communities and Sustainability in Latin America and the Caribbean
WPI has been supporting student and faculty project work in Latin America since 1992, when the Puerto Rico project center was initiated.  Since, our presence has grown to include year-round opportunities in six countries, including IQP and MQP projects, and Humanities and Arts Requirements.  This roundtable will welcome five project center directors to reflect on the origins and experiences of WPI’s commitment in Latin America, successes and challenges of community engagement, social justice and sustainability, and what this has meant for faculty and students. 

Moderator: Laureen Elgert, WPI
Panelists: Melissa Belz, Costa Rica; Courtney Kurlanska, Ecuador; Aarti Madan, Argentina; Lauren Mathews, Puerto Rico; Aaron Sakulich, Panama;

Discussant: William San Martin, WPI

3:10 - 3:20 pm Student Testimonials from Latin American and Caribbean Project Centers
3:20 - 3:50 pm

Covid-19 and the Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean
In addition to provoking devastating crises in public health and well-being, the sustained spread of Covid-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean has significantly disrupted economies around the region. Stay-at-home mandates, legitimized by health concerns, have disrupted traditional systems of consumption and production, while a global economic downtown has generated volatility in the international markets with which local and national economies are integrated. Nevertheless, as in many places and during many crises, opportunities for renewal, progress and change exist. This panel will bring together four WPI alumni from Latin America and the Caribbean for a conversation about the economic impacts of Covid-19 in the region and a discussion of the consequences of these crises in the near and long term. 

Moderator: John Galante, WPI
Panelists: Hernando Carvajal ‘93, Marketing Director, BMW Group Latin America; Leila Carvajal-Erker ‘96, CEO, Cocoa Supply; Fernando Motta ‘83, CEO & General Manager, Felipe Motta; and Carlos Zuccolillo ‘84, Executive Director, Fabrica Paraguaya De Sierras S.A.



Rachel Roy
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