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Semester Abroad

Program Faculty

Cynthia Belliveau, Ed.D., Dean of Continuing and Distance Education

Dr. Belliveau is a faculty member in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Vermont. Dr. Belliveau’s research is in food systems primarily focused on pedagogical applications in sustainability. As Dean of Continuing and Distance Education, she directs college and professional credit programming for college students and adults. Dr. Belliveau has consulted for Winrock International, US AID, and the Sri Lankan Government. She continues to teach undergraduates about food and cooking in the university Food Lab.

Oliver Froehling, M.A.

Oliver Fröhling is a geographer by academic training. He lives in Oaxaca, Mexico, where he co-founded SURCO, a center for autonomous education and local activism. His research interests-which are integrated into his practical activities at SURCO-include NGOs and neoliberal policy, critical geopolitics, and alternatives to economics. Some of the initiatives he is currently working on are centered on improving urban livelihoods; these efforts include promoting the use of bicycles and urban agriculture, and working to create a training center for video and audio production.

Claire Goodwin

Claire GoodwinClaire Goodwin is the In-country Assistant Director and an alumna of the Oaxaca study abroad. After finishing the program in 2010, Claire completed her senior year at UVM, and eventually escaped back to Mexico. For the past three and a half years, she has been volunteering on organic farms, teaching English online and in-person, and working in Oaxaca and Cuernavaca with various organizations and community partners. She is very passionate about the Mexican and Oaxacan culture, cuisine, and language, and loves to share her knowledge and experiences with students and travelers alike.

Vern Grubinger, Ph.D.

Vern teaches the Plant and Soil Science course for the Food Systems track in Oaxaca. He is a vegetable and berry specialist at UVM. He also serves as coordinator of USDA’s Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, which annually awards nearly $4 million in grants to researchers, educators, and farmers across the 12 Northeast states. Vern’s areas of expertise are commercial horticulture, soil health, and organic and sustainable agriculture.


Jean Harvey, Ph.D., R.D.

Dr. Jean Harvey is a professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences and professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Vermont. Her research focuses on behavioral treatments for obesity in adults and obesity prevention in children. As the lead researcher and founder of Vtrim, a behavioral weight loss program, Dr. Harvey has conducted numerous clinical trials in obesity treatment over the past 16 years. Her current research projects include an examination of the efficacy of conducting weight loss intervention over the Internet and an investigation of changes in energy balance that might result from decreasing sedentary behavior in adults. Jean’s most recent national publicity was as a recipient of the 2008 James Beard Award for “The Eating Well Diet” book.

Teresa Mares, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Vermont and is affiliated with the Transdisciplinary Research Initiative in Food Systems.  Dr. Mares’ research focuses on the intersection of food and migration studies, and she is particularly interested in the ways that the diets and foodways of Latino/a immigrants change as a result of migration. She is currently engaged in an ethnographic study examining food security and food access among Latino/a dairy workers in Vermont. At UVM, Dr. Mares teaches courses on Food and Culture, Food and Gender, Methods of Ethnographic Fieldwork, among others.

Sergio Navarrette Pellicer, Ph.D.

Sergio Navarrette Pellicer is a professor, researcher and the current director at CIESAS (Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social) in Oaxaca, Mexico. He is currently working on the National Music Project which is striving to create a database of the music and musicians found in town and church records from México, Puebla, Oaxaca Morelia, Guadalajara, Mérida, and San Cristóbal de Las Casas including sources from the Oaxaca cathedral (1540-1858). He is also working on a project focusing on the transmission and transformation process of the musical traditions of Oaxaca.

Sergio’s music project focusing on Afro-Mexican populations from the Oaxaca coast.

Michael Sundue, Ph.D.

Michael teaches botany in Oaxaca. At UVM, Michael is a post-doc in the Plant Biology Department. He splits his time between doing laboratory research in Jeffords Hall, and working with botanical specimens in the Pringle Herbarium, which is UVM’s research museum for dried and pressed plant specimens. You can read more about his research and plant systematics and evolution on the PBIO website.

He first visited Oaxaca after finishing his undergraduate degree on a trip to explore agriculture and botany of Mexico and Central America. Since then he has botanized throughout the Americas, but Michael claims Oaxaca to be, “one of the most interesting and beautiful places that I have been. The region has a mix of tropical and temperate plants, in both dry and wet regions. Between the diversity in vegetation and rich ethnobotanical history, you couldn’t pick a better spot for an introduction to botany. Plus the street food is amazing.”

In this photo, Michael is collecting fern gametophytes in a cloud forest in the Sierra Juarez near Ixtlan de Juarez north of Oaxaca city. You need a light because they are really small!

Jonathan Treat, M.A.

Jonathan Treat is a professor, journalist and activist who has worked in Central America and Mexico for more than 20 years. His work in international education has focused on social movements and their struggle to demand social justice and respect for human rights. Treat has also led educational and solidarity tours in Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico. He currently resides in Oaxaca, Mexico, where he has lived for 16 years coordinating study abroad and service learning projects, in addition to his work as a journalist. His writing and photographs on human and environmental rights and defense of indigenous territories have been published in the Huffington Post, the NACLA Report on the Americas, the Center for International Policy’s Americas Program, In These Times, The Humanitarian News, Upside Down World, and others.

Burt Wilke, PH.D.

Dr. Wilcke is a professor within the College of Nursing and Health Sciences with a secondary appointment in the College of Medicine. He is focused on creating linkages between the healthcare and public health communities. He has served on the boards of several state and national public health organizations. His research and scholarship interests include global health infrastructure, disease surveillance and public health systems.