Public Health and Environmental Service on the Texas-Mexico Border

April 6, 2015

During Alma’s “”Spring Semester”” students take four weeks in May to study intensely one subject. One year a professor decided to teach a course on public health along the Texas-Mexican border. The class included an on-site investigation of and service to the people in the area. For the first week students studied the historical and political background of the area. Students gave 35-40 minute presentations to their classmates and were tested on the material at the end of the week.

Upon arrival in El Paso in the second week students dug a ditch for a septic tank and began to study one of three subjects: neural tube birth defects, Rio Grande toxin contamination, and waste disposal in the area. These topics were pertinent given the number of factories that set up shop right across the border so as to escape US federal regulations and higher wages.

Students grades were based upon their test scores from the first week, their daily journal entries, and their final research papers.

Contact:Edward C. Lorenz, Associate Professor 517.463.7203. E-mail at

This information originally appeared in “”Science and Society: Redefining the Relationship”” by Stephen Miller. Published by Campus Compact, 1996.

Alma College - MI, Michigan
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