Furgason Student Workshop on International Management (SWIM)
The Gulf of Mexico Student Workshop on International Management (SWIM) was developed in 2010 by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and is supported through the Furgason Fellowship fund. Created as a series, and previously hosted in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Veracruz, Mexico, workshops promote educational exchanges between younger scientists and students from Cuba, Mexico, and the U.S. to develop innovative and cross-boundary solutions to priority coastal and marine challenges. Each year this initiative brings together 18 hand-selected graduate students from Mexico, Cuba, and the United States. Participants are exposed to peer-to-peer exchanges, shared learning, and intensive interactions with scientists, managers, and practitioners. Locations rotate among the three Gulf countries.
This year's workshop will take place in July 2017 in Cuba. Students will visit Caguanes National Park and Santa Maria Cay to explore topics associated with ecotourism, tourism development, and the management and conservation of protected areas. Students will interact with park authorities, local community leaders, and environmental specialists to analyze the tourism packages put forward by the park, and suggest ways of improving services. In order to assess demand, students will visit facilities expecting an uptick in internal and external tourism. This includes the Hotel of San Miguel del Lago in Mayajigua, the Community La Picadora, and a five-star hotel Channel in Santa Maria, as well as touristic and non-touristic spots in the park and nearby areas. Finally, students will submit a report with guidelines for the park and draft a manuscript to present at the American Anthropology Meetings in Washington DC, November 2017.
The health of the Gulf and its communities ultimately depends on developing an integrated network of practitioners and researchers that can work with a single vision across boundaries. The Gulf of Mexico Student Workshop (SWIM) is intended as a platform to develop these interconnections. Students and younger scientists will be tomorrow’s Gulf leaders, advocates, and educators. By engaging scientists, practitioners, and policy makers from these three countries, the workshop links future environmental leaders to the leaders of today, providing for the transfer of knowledge and experience from one generation to the next. These workshops foster a new multicultural understanding of common strengths and gaps in Gulf science, coastal and marine resource management, and policy.