Photo & Video Gallery from the
2018 Belize National Research Conference
March 21-22, 2018 | University of Belize Auditorium
Negotiating Science & Environment in Rural Belize: An Anthropological PerspectiveDr. Sophie Haines presents "Negotiating Science & Environment in Rural Belize: An Anthropological Perspective" at the First Belize National Research Conference, March 21 2018.
As part of efforts towards sustainable development goals, governmental and non-governmental bodies in Belize are undertaking ‘watershed management’ projects to assess and manage not only water but also land, ecosystem and human aspects of resource stewardship and climate change adaptation. This paper discusses preliminary findings of anthropological research into what these contemporary interventions mean and entail for rural residents of Stann Creek and Toledo Districts, whose lives and livelihoods depend on the environments in question. Drawing on four months of ethnography and interviews, I aim to examine the processes of translation and participation that may or may not occur during scientific environmental assessments and management interventions. Rural development and conservation interventions in Belize have been complicated by legacies of colonialism, indigenous land rights struggles, territorial disputes and past failed projects. This paper reflects on the interactions of environmental, social and health concerns; different modes of engagement within and between communities, governments, NGOs, and researchers; and the role of brokers who inhabit multiple roles in these relationships
Suggested APA Reference: Baines, K. (2018). Negotiating Science & Environment in Rural Belize: An Anthropological Perspective, presented at First Belize National Research Conference, City of Belmopan, 2018. Belize: NICH.
Maya Milpa agriculture, settlement patterns, ethnohistory in BelizeSean Downey presents "Q’eqchi’ Maya Milpa agriculture, settlement patterns, ethnohistory, and the important of colonial enterprise in Modern Belize" at the First Belize National Research Conference, March 21 2018.
In this presentation, I will reconstruct the settlement history for twelve related Q’eqchi’ Maya villages in the Toledo District of southern Belize using oral history interviews, archival records, and the Catholic parish birth register. The study evaluates two hypotheses for explaining the identified patterns: carrying capacity, which suggests that increasing village populations and environmental limits drove new settlements, and political ecology, which suggests that outside economic forces determined the timing and location of new settlements. Surprisingly, the analysis indicates that villages rarely encountered significant environmental limits that directly caused resettlement; in contrast, colonial economic expansion into remote parts of southern Belize, and social tensions within the villages better explain the observed demographic shifts. The second part of the study uses a quantitative analysis to triangulate this result by analyzing how the settlement history relates to changes in the amount of land available per capita through time. The results of a catchment analysis support the proposition that Q’eqchi’ settlement patterns during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries were largely driven by outside economic activity rather than carrying capacity. I will conclude by briefly describe my current research project in Toledo.
The Systematic Structure of Q’eqchi’ Medical KnowledgeJames B. Waldram presents "The Systematic Structure of Q’eqchi’ Medical Knowledge" at the First Belize National Research Conference, March 21 2018.
The purpose of this research is to document the knowledge and practices of a group of Q’eqchi medical practitioners in the Toledo District, Belize. Like with many Indigenous peoples, Q’eqchi’ medicine is an orally and experientially-based knowledge system in which individual practitioners learn through apprenticeship and hands-on experience. While significantly individualized, does there exist a broader body of collective knowledge, what I have referred to as latent empiricism (Waldram & Hatala, 2015), upon which the practitioners draw? This research seeks to uncover the systematic and structural nature of that knowledge. Through extensive ethnographic research, including interviews, observation of treatments, and various cognitive techniques (such as pile sorts), data have been generated that outline a clear nosological system through which 16 locally known sicknesses are categorized. Practitioner variability in the knowledge of these sicknesses is documented, suggesting the effects of differential training and experience. It is concluded that there is a structured and systematic nature to Q’eqchi’ medical knowledge that emulates biomedicine in both epistemology and in practice.
Belizean Primary School Teachers’ Understanding of AssessmentCandy Armstrong presents "Belizean Primary School Teachers’ Understanding of Assessment, Practices for Assessing Students’ Learning and Use of Student Assessment Data to Guide Teaching" at the First Belize National Research Conference, March 22 2018.
This quantitative survey study examined teachers’ understanding of assessment, their practices in assessing student learning and their use of assessment data to guide their teaching. Specifically, this study sought to determine if level of training had an impact on teachers’ understanding of assessment, teachers’ practices in assessing student learning, or teachers’ use of assessment data to guide their teaching. The overarching research focus was to find out whether teachers with more training had a greater and more positive understanding of assessment, whether they assessed their students more frequently and appropriately and whether they reported more frequent use of assessment data in guiding their teaching than those teachers with less training. The results of this study showed a significant difference in understanding between teachers who had an associate’s degree in primary education and teachers who had no training. Data driven decision making provided the framework to explain the teachers’ assessment practices and use of student assessment data. Among the key finding of this study was that differences were not found in teachers’ practices for assessing students’ learning nor use of assessment data to guide teaching regardless of the teachers’ level of training, gender, age or teaching experience. The group with an associate’s degree reported the highest mean score for all three areas (understanding, practice and use) compared with all the other groups. The highest qualified groups who had master’s degrees in education or bachelor’s degrees in primary education, had the lowest mean scores for all three areas (understanding, practice and use) indicating that they had the least understanding of assessment, had the least positive assessment practices, and the least effective use of assessment data.
Strategic teaching approach to college algebra in a Belizean context by Amir JuarezAmir Juarez presents "Strategic Teaching Approach to College Algebra in a Belizean Context" at the 1st Belize National Research Conference, March, 2018.
History has long been used as an effective teaching tool in academic disciplines such as Literature, Philosophy and Medicine, why not in Mathematics too? Using history to teach Mathematics is globally supported scientifically. It can serve to motivate learning and increase understanding of mathematics by being a connector between concrete and abstract ideas, scientific thoughts and problems of different times, cultures and contexts. This study seeks to unravel the association between students´ underperformance in Mathematics and the absence of organized didactical strategies, a factor suspected to condone students´ poor understanding of mathematics at a Belizean junior college. It investigates didactical strategies used in College Algebra, a first year Pure Mathematics course, and explores the nature of didactical strategies enhanced with pedagogical tendencies that can better approximate students´knowledge and understanding of content to expected institutional learning outcomes. It proposes to accomplish this through the cognitive-historic-social-cultural pedagogical approach, advocating a set of didactical strategies that use elements of the history of algebraic contents. The merger of substantiated didactical strategies, categorized reasons and techniques of using history in the teaching of Mathematics, and reviewed pedagogical tendencies in mathematics education can prove effective in increasing students´ knowledge and understanding of mathematics.
Online pedagogy Students experiences in synchronous distributed courses by Priscilla LopezDr. Priscilla Brown Lopez presents "Online Instructional Pedagogy: Students’ Experiences in Synchronous Distributed Courses, Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Belize" at the 1st Belize National Research Conference, March 2018.
As institutions of higher learning offer Computer Mediated Distance Learning, courses must be well designed and frequently evaluated. Based on data to assess students’ experiences in synchronous distributed courses at the University of Belize, this paper proposed a model for assessing distance learning instruction based on six constructs: The Process of Teaching and Learning, Developing a Community of Learners, Pedagogical Practices, Students’ Needs, Course Delivery, and Technological Use. Using an independent Sample T-test scores for four measures: Perception of Online learning, perceptions about the quality and usefulness of Synchronous Distributed Course, Information Quality and instructor interaction reflected moderate means (3.745; 3.921; 4.129; 3.822) respectively. Scores for items on information quality were the highest while the scores on perception of online learning were the lowest. Perceptions of Synchronous Distributed Courses across the four measure were the same for students enrolled in Teaching Methods for Secondary Level and Professionalism in Education courses (Independent Samples T-test: p=0.587, p=0.537,p=0.369 and p=0.723) respectively. General findings suggest that online instruction must be grounded in sound pedagogical practices and use of empirical findings to guide course development to ensure that students receive high quality instruction and rewarding teaching and learning experiences.
The fluid imaginary of a Belizean Waterscape by Siobhan K McCollumSiobhan K. McCollum presents "Selling Swamps and Paradise: The Fluid Imaginary of a Belizean Waterscape" at the 1st Belize National Research Conference, March 2018.
Four days after returning home from ethnographic fieldwork, I received a text from a friend of a friend in the coastal village where I completed my research. It read “My mother wants to sell you her land.” The offer was familiar, as people frequently mistook me for a wealthy tourist looking to buy a piece of paradise. These offers are part of the long history of foreign land ownership that shapes Belize’s economy and society. When measured against the forestry-based land monopoly established in the hinterland by early European settlers, and the dominance of American landownership in the twentieth century, the foreign frenzy for buying small parcels of waterfront land is a recent phenomenon. Prior to the increased development of tourism in the 1990s, the sandy shorelines of the south were largely perceived by outsiders as marginal spaces in a swampy colonial backwater. Beaches and wetlands were imagined as peripheral, unproductive and diseased landscapes, thus when the first wave of Garifuna migrants arrived in modern Belize, the southern beaches were unclaimed and available for settlement. Here, I consider how the beach shifted from a miasma-laden edge in the margins of the colony to a rapidly developing destination for tropical paradise tourism, amenity-based migration and real estate investment. Through participant observation and archival work, I trace how social marginalization and exclusionary land policies pushed the Garifuna to the coastal fringe, and how changing imaginaries transformed their isolated fishing community into a paradise in the center of an international real estate market.
Estimating international tourist preferences relating to ecotourism by Ismael TeulIsmael Teul presents "Estimating International Tourist Preferences Relating to Ecotourism in a Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize" at the 1st Belize National Research Conference, March 2018.
One of the most important understanding of our time is the realization that human and natural systems cannot be separated (Kareiva & Marvier, 2012). By understanding both systems, appropriate management plans can be created to ensure the wellbeing of both systems. Ecotourism is argued to be a good tool for conservation, however, it is without its weaknesses, which are mainly caused by poor management and lack of public support (Das & Chatterjee 2015). Case studies in Belize reveal a strong support for conservation (Seidle et al. 2014), however, tourism is not providing adequate funds for conservation (Lindberg et al. 1996, National Protected Areas Technical Committee, 2015). Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is on such case. The main question in this research is, “Is there low support for conservation efforts among international tourists in Belize or is this support undervalued by protected area managers?” Using the choice experiment methodology this study found a high support for biodiversity conservation, and high willingness to pay for entrance fees. The results show that international visitors were willing to almost three times more to access the wildlife sanctuary. There are however, varying preference, those who were willing to pay high, had a high preference for solitude. This study reveals that there is high support and willingness to pay among international visitors for conservation efforts in Belize, and that this support is undervalued by protected area managers.
Scale of Tourism development, environment and changing livelihoods by Rebecca ZargerRebecca Zarger, E. Christian Wells, Ann Vitous, Eric Koenig, Christine Prouty, Paola Gonzalez and Maya Trotz presents "Avoiding Dispossession at Home: Scale of Tourism Development, Environment, and Changing Livelihoods on the Placencia Peninsula" at the 1st Belize National Research Conference, March 2018.
The authors have been studying the impacts of rapid tourism development to coastal areas and local livelihoods on the Placencia Peninsula between 2013 and 2017. This paper describes findings from ethnographic, environmental, and engineering science research to better understand the complex relationships between tourism development, water/wastewater management, and livelihoods in coastal areas (Wells et al. 2016). Methods of data collection included participant observation, surveys with community members and visitors, and 46-in-depth, semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders. Study findings indicate there is a tension between the scale of tourism preferred by many longer-term residents and other forms of intensive large-scale tourism development including cruise ship tourism. Rapid changes taking place in land ownership, infrastructure, types and locations of tourism construction, and diverging opinions about the scale of tourism development over the last 15 years (Alexander 2008; Boles et al. 2011), have affected daily life and the coastal environment through increased pressures from waste effluent, dredging, mangrove destruction, and negative impacts to coral reef ecosystems that many residents rely upon for their livelihoods. Many participants expressed concerns about losing the small-scale tourism that has historically characterized the peninsula and instead seeing more mass tourism, a product of growing foreign investment and environmental dispossession. In the conclusion of the paper we reflexively consider how the research focus and collaborations with local non-governmental organizations, communities, and other stakeholders changed over time (Prouty et al. 2017; Vitous 2017), emphasizing the need for more legitimate participation in decision making and ways to effectively co-produce and share project findings with community members and other groups.