Cultural Ecology of Ireland is a Hawaii Community College Study Abroad experience for students, faculty and staff of the University of Hawaii system. The program is the result of a collaboration between Pamela (Mela) Scheffler and Elizabeth Neimyer and designed to introduce students to the unique culture and ecology of Ireland, and to help them understand the ties that unite island cultures, even in diverse and varied ecosystems. We will also explore ways in which the environment affects culture and culture changes the environment. Carrie Mospens has joined as a faculty lead and Niamh Hamill is our in-country partner and source of expertise from the Institute of Study Abroad - Ireland.
Mela teaches in the Hawaii CC Tropical Ecosystem and Agroforestry Management (TEAM) program as well as teaching in the natural sciences department. She first visited Ireland in 1990 with a good friend and a bicycle. Since that time she has lived and studied in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Brazil and India. Her doctoral work involved studying the effect of timber harvest on biodiversity in an indigenous territory in Brazil. She brings to this course a passion for the natural world and how it shapes, and is shaped by, human culture.
Carrie is an applied linguist who teaches English as a Second Language. Here's how she describes herself: Growing up as the daughter of a Coastie, I became a traveler at a very young age. From coast to coast, shore to shore my family zoomed, and it did not take long for me to look forward to road trips and transcontinental flights. However, it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized my passion for the languages, which I had encountered in our travels. Moreover, whether it was competing with my brother to learn Spanish the fastest or listening to my father talk about his Hungarian grandparents and his own desire to speak their language, I was hooked. Unbeknownst to me in those years, this deep regard for tongues, their peoples and their cultures would take me around the world. And so it was that in October of 2014, I had the pleasure of first visiting Ireland. There I was struck by the unexpected parallels between our islands...storytelling, voyaging, history, geographical genealogy, spiritual practices, language revitalization, and solidarity. These parallels are powerful, rich, significant, and dynamic. Sharing this…is going to be amazing.
Niamh is an expert in Irish history and culture with a solid understanding of American popular culture.
The lovely background photo of Tullen Strand, Bundoran, is taken by Dr. Niamh Hamill