Ruining the Ruins?

Erin Nordloh is a senior majoring in Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies (JAMS) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She recently enrolled in an atmospheric science course that featured a study-abroad program. She grabbed a video camera to document the expedition for PantherVision – UWM’s student-produced TV newscast – and hopped a plane to Mexico to explore the effects of acid rain on Mexico’s ancient ruins.

Two weeks exploring Mexico in the middle of January might seem like a vacation. But for me, seven other UWM students and Atmospheric Science Professor Jonathan Kahl, the tropical adventure stretched far beyond beaches and 80-degree weather.

Over UWinteriM, we traveled to Mexico as part of the only faculty-led atmospheric science study-abroad course in the country. The course, “Air Pollution and and Ancient Cultures,” is a unique blend of natural and social science. We studied the anthropology and culture of ancient ruins while collecting rain samples and measuring pollutants they contain to examine the corrosive effects of acid rain on ancient heritage sites.

Mexico does not heavily regulate air pollution, which causes acid rain. Partnering with students at one of the only universities in the Latin American country studying air pollution allowed us to dive deeper into the issue and understand the long-term effects it could have on the culture and heritage of people living in this region.

The interdisciplinary nature of the course brought together students studying biology to business, each of us finding ways to make the material applicable to our areas of study.

Fourteen days, five cities and six archeological sites kept us pretty busy. This video is a three-minute recap of our exotic excursion.