(March 5, 2008)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

Students Learn about Environmental Humanities at Chimpanzee Sanctuary

SHREVEPORT, La.—Six students from Centenary College made a special trip to a sanctuary for chimpanzees March 3 to see first hand how the staff there is working to promote positive environmental change in the community.

Students Learn About Environmental Humanities at Chimpanzee Sanctuary
From left to right: Stephen Hollaway, Steven Brown, Professor Jeanne Hamming, Sarah Eich, Elizabeth Robinson, Heidi Clift, Chimp Haven education director, Rachel Johnson, and Malari Coburn. (photo courtesy of Chimp Haven)

The visit to Chimp Haven was part of a special course called "Environment and Society," the capstone course for the Environment and Society minor at Centenary that emphasizes the interrelationships between the environment, culture, science, and society. As part of the course, students are learning about different organizations and individuals who have been working to promote positive environmental change in our own community.

In addition to visiting Chimp Haven, students in the class were able to hear from local environmentalist Murray Lloyd, who discussed his experiences with the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the Louisiana Black Bear Conservation initiative. Students will also spend a day volunteering at the Community Growing Station and Garden on campus, and will even get to canoe a segment of the Trinity River in Dallas.

Students Learn About Environmental Humanities at Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Students observe one of the groups of chimpanzees in a one-half acre outdoor play yard at Chimp Haven. The students were visiting the sanctuary to see first hand how the staff there is working to promote positive environmental change in the community. (photo courtesy Chimp Haven)

"By visiting Chimp Haven, students were able to learn about the complexities of creating such a sanctuary as well as to see how passionate the people who work for Chimp Haven are about what they do," said Jeanne Hamming, Assistant Professor of English. "Several students expressed interest in volunteering at the sanctuary as a result of their visit. As a professor who teaches environmental humanities, I think it is important that students get outside the classroom and into the world, which is, after all, what these classes are about in the first place."

Chimp Haven, located 22 miles southwest of Shreveport, is a sanctuary for chimpanzees retired from biomedical research. Currently there are approximately 141 chimpanzees residing at the sanctuary, and will eventually be home to more than 200 chimpanzees.

Students Learn About Environmental Humanities at Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Keeli, (left) Ivy and Emma keep a close eye on the students from Centenary while visiting the sanctuary. (photo courtesy of Chimp Haven)

"This was my first visit to the sanctuary, but hopefully not my last," added Hamming. "I hope to take more classes to the sanctuary, and to learn as much as I can from Behaviorist Amy Fultz. Her knowledge of primates and of these chimpanzees in particular is amazing!"

Hamming would also like to bring Chimp Haven staff members to campus to talk about their experiences and the important work they are doing. "Chimp Haven is such an untapped resource for this college and I hope there can be more meaningful collaboration in the future," she said. "I would even like to see Centenary and Chimp Haven team up to create a post-doctorate position, a position where a recent PhD could teach courses at Centenary while also conducting research and doing service at the Sanctuary."

About Centenary College of Louisiana

Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and is regularly rated as one of the top colleges in the South. In 2008 Centenary College celebrates 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.