WEST CALDWELL, NJ — Speaking of her work in Ghana researching the effects of environmental, agricultural and political changes on people’s health and livelihood, geographer Dr. Heidi Hausermann, Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University, recently gave a presentation to students at James Caldwell High School.

Hausermann uses an interdisciplinary, mixed-methods approach to her research, according to her presentation last week in which she shared the results of one of the projects she is working on in the Republic of Ghana in West Africa. 

Following the economic collapse of 2008, the price of gold increased dramatically worldwide, she explained to the students. According to Hausermann, this led to the opening of several new alluvial gold mining sites, many of them illegal, along rivers in Ghana.

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Hausermann discussed how her research project examined how the mining affects the landscape, local agriculture, food security and human health.

According to Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Heinegg, most of the students who attended the presentation are enrolled in either the Advanced Placement course in Environmental Science or the Advanced Placement course in Human Geography at JCHS.  He said Hausermann’s discussion provided them with the unique opportunity to see some of the practical applications of concepts studied in their classes.

Throughout the 2016-17 school year, the Caldwell-West Caldwell Public School District has been and continues to be involved in a collaborative project in Environmental Humanities involving the Caldwell and West Caldwell Public Libraries. Sponsored by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and led by Dr. John Davenport of Fordham University, the project aims to examine the effects of environmental issues on individuals and society.