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The fourth-year Honors theme is “Looking to the Future.” This course focuses on the Everglades National Park (ENP), examining not only the Everglades eco-system and the politics surrounding its conservation, but also literature and art about the Everglades, such as the photographs of Clyde Butcher and novels like Peter Matthiessen’s Killing Mr. Watson. This course requires active participation from students; most classes take place outdoors and involve hiking, biking, canoeing, and slough slogging. Class meets every other Friday (9am–5pm) at off-campus locations and is team-taught by FIU Honors College Faculty Dr. Peter Machonis, a linguist, and Dr. Devon Graham, a tropical biologist, along with guest lecturers and rangers.
The first semester concentrates on the origins of the ENP idea, looking at the impressions of 19th-century naturalist John James Audubon, early movements to protect the Everglades, and legislation that led to the dedication of America’s first biological national park in 1947 by President Truman. Students also study the natural origins of the Everglades, and “class” involves plant, habitat, and wildlife identification as well as “inhabiting the lives” of early explorers.