BIST Trinidad and Tobago 2015

A Historical Analysis of Agriculture and Foods in Trinidad and Tobago (ANR/AFR)

Dates: May 11-June 5, 2015

Instructors: Dwayne Mack & Quinn Baptiste

The future development of most nations like Trinidad and Tobago is significantly affected by the sustainability of their agricultural sectors. Historical analysis of agricultural sectors can provide an abundance of useful information for a variety of professionals who are charged with guiding the future development of these agricultural sectors. Therefore, it seems instructive to analyze the developmental pathways of the agricultural sectors in developing nations which are still very much in the beginning stages of development. The agricultural sectors of the Caribbean nations, including that of Trinidad and Tobago are potentially very good representations of sectors in the early stages of development. Indeed, the postcolonial period for agricultural sector development in the Caribbean nations is on average just about fifty years. During this postcolonial period, the development of the agricultural sectors of these Caribbean nations has been stagnated partly by adherence to policies and procedures inherited from the colonial era. Therefore, the agricultural sectors of Caribbean nations are potentially ideal subjects for historical analysis.

Trinidad and Tobago is a Caribbean nation that is a mere 51 years old, and has probably been the one Caribbean nation well positioned for achieving developed nation status by the year 2020. The country is recognized for its political stability, economic development, success in the arts, and unique contributions to sports, music, and culture. In many ways it represents the unofficial capital of the Caribbean. The country is similar to rapidly developing industrialized nations but has an agricultural sector that has not experienced a similarly rapid rate of development. Nevertheless, the country’s agricultural sector is poised for major change.  The directional pathway of development is pointing towards an agricultural sector with a predominance of large farms, similar to that of contemporary agricultural sectors in the US and other developed nations. There is a rapidly disappearing small family farm sector, coupled with the rapid progress to large scale, industrialized producer type operations, which, ironically, developed nations are now apparently rejecting as a sustainable agricultural production model. The roles of the long established and recently modernized University of The West Indies Department of Food Production (formerly the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture), the Government’s Ministry of Agriculture Extension Services, the University of Trinidad and Tobago (recently established) and farmer organizations in influencing the postcolonial development of the agricultural sector are significant. Much time will be spent conducting an historical analysis of this sector. Additionally, the contrast in the relative rates of development between Trinidad and Tobago’s agricultural and economic sectors makes this country an even more ideal subject for students to conduct an historical analysis of agriculture and food systems.

The involvement of Berea College students in this course will permit them to conduct an historical analysis of an evolving agricultural sector, while being actively engaged in veterinary health and wild life experiences through service learning activities. Throughout the duration of the course, students will be hosted by a variety of individuals, institutions and agencies, including the University of the West Indies, the University of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Wildlife. These organizations will provide students with many opportunities to learn about the history of agriculture and food in this Caribbean nation. Students will meet with a diverse range of individuals and document the changes that have occurred in agriculture and food production during the late pre-independence years (colonial) and throughout postcolonial period. These experiences will be invaluable in helping the students understand the developmental pathways that have led to the current status of the agriculture and food production sectors in developed nations. In addition, students will be provided hands-on tropical veterinary health experiences with traditional domesticated livestock, and tropical wildlife species.

The students will engage in service learning at The Mount Hope Veterinary School and Hospital, and at governmental and non-governmental farms, the Emperor Valley Zoo and Wildlife Nature Centers. Students will also gain further exposure to tropical animal science by accompanying government and university veterinary health professionals on service calls and farm tours.

Estimated Cost

Estimated total including airfare, course fee, meals, housing, spending money, passport and immunizations: $4,570

Berea can cover up to a third of the cost with the New Horizons Grant: $1,508.10

Left for student to cover with personal funds, outside grants, 0% loans, etc.: $3,016.20

Financial Support

Financial support from Berea College is available for any major to cover a portion of the cost of a summer abroad. The Department of Foreign Languages offers similar financial support for qualified majors and minors.

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For specific questions about this course, contact Dwayne Mack or Quinn Baptiste.

For general questions about the BIST application process or scholarships, contact the Education Abroad Team at or (859) 985-3453, or drop by 205 Woods-Penniman.