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Student Research Projects

The environment, health, and sustainable development in Vieques

Student Matthew Ryan
Faculty Mentor(s) Dr. Steven Emmanuel
Department Philosophy

Abstract

My proposed project is to investigate the growing issues with the environment, health, and development of the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. I will conduct research on the ground with Dr. Emmanuel in San Juan and Vieques during spring break 2007 (March 17-25). The island of Vieques has been partially occupied by the U.S. Navy for six decades. The Navy used the island as a radar station and bombing range. The use of the island as a bombing range has enraged many locals and sparked protests and creation of activist groups. As a result of mass protest and political pressure, the Navy withdrew from Vieques in 2003 and classified the old bombing range as a national park.

The objective of this project is to use my experience in video production to create a 30-60 minute professional documentary accurately covering the current struggle between civil disobedience and the future development of the land. Today it is believed that contamination from the bombing range is contributing to major health problems for the locals, including heavy metal poisoning and contamination to marine life. Dr. Emmanuel and I plan to conduct interviews with local officials, scientists, professors, and activists. We have a producer on the ground, Cristina Corrada Emmanuel (Dr. Emmanuel's cousin), who is a current activist and has many contacts in Vieques. Some important people we plan to interview include: Dr. Jorge Col'n, a chemist at The University of Puerto Rico, Dr. Cruz Mar'a Nazario, an epidemiologist at The University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, and Robert Rabin, director of CPRDV (Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques). All of these people are professionals in their field and will contribute greatly to the project as well as help illustrate the situation from various angles.

We plan on using the documentary to educate the Wesleyan and educational community of the hardships caused by environmental contamination and the ongoing struggle for occupation and future of Vieques.

Grants

VWC Undergraduate Research Grant

 

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