May 14, 1999
Friends World Student Wins Fulbright to Investigate Water Conflicts in Bolivia
Josh Newton of Williston, Vermont, is Southampton College's 34th Fulbright Scholar
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Southampton, NY -- Josh Newton of Williston, Vt., a mountain-climbing world traveler who on May 23 receives an Interdisciplinary Studies degree from the Southampton College-based Friends World Program of Long Island University, has won a Fulbright Scholarship to study water conflicts in Bolivia.
Keeping with Friends World's mission of "Global education for social change," Newton is investigating the environmental and socio-economic impacts of water conflict, an issue that has provoked dozens of violent clashes internationally.
In February 2000, Newton will head to LaPaz, Bolivia and the area of Lake Titicaca (the highest navigable lake in the world at 12,506 feet), which is a crucial water source for agriculture, industry and human consumption. For nine months, he will study how human activity, urban industry, mining, and the lake's geologic properties have caused organic, bacteriologic and physical-chemical contamination in the water basin.
Newton's Fulbright makes him the 34th Southampton College student in the past 24 years to earn the prestigious scholarship-- a remarkable number for a small institution.
For students like Newton, who embrace a non-traditional education, Friends World offers an ideal, hands-on learning approach to education. Friends World students receive no letter grades, and submit extensive journals following each internship.
"I sought a university that would enable me to do extensive field work and research as part of my undergraduate studies," said Newton, who has studied at two of Friends World's seven overseas centers. "I chose Friends World... based on the experiential education in varied cultural settings. (The program) takes the world's most pressing issues as the basis for its curriculum."
This semester, Newton was in the Middle East to research one of the most problematic water conflicts on Earth-- the shared waters between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. One key to the peace process is securing water rights for all three regions after the final accord.
"I firmly believe that water conflict remains an important issue, and will become especially crucial in years to come when water supplies have diminished due to overexploitation and mismanagement," said Newton. "Growing up in Vermont, I took water for granted because of its abundance. I didn't realize until I left the United States how many water conflicts are the cause of international disputes; in some cases, war."
Josh Newton's travels on behalf of the environment began in his high school days, and have taken him to many nations:
Through Southampton College's Cooperative Education and Career Development Center, Newton interned at the International Institute for Law and the Environment in Barcelona in summer 1998. He conducted an ecological and infrastructural study of the shared water basins between Spain and Portugal.
Between semesters, he spent a month in the Patagonian Andes and 3 weeks attempting to summit the Aconcagua, the tallest peak in the Western hemisphere. In the base camp, he was a volunteer translator to police, rangers and doctors in life-and-death situations.
He spent two semesters in Mendoza, Argentina, where climactic conditions have caused a water drought. Working with two environmental groups, he investigated the impact of a proposed aqueduct, and presented a critique of the Provincial Regulatory Entity of Water and Sewage.
After studying Spanish and contemporary Central American history in San Jose, Costa Rica, he went to the Institute for Ecological Politics in Santiago, Chile. There, he aided lower-income groups in the management of parks and green areas.
As a freshman at Southampton College, he was an intern at the East Hampton Town Department of Natural Resources/Environmental Protection. There, he researched aquatic species, tidal gauge recordings, dam construction and reed growth observation.
Through an exchange program at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg, Vermont, he visited Germany and attended Lycee Fernand Daguin in France. "It was upon witnessing (the French Alps) that I decided to focus my studies on the environment, and my free time climbing mountains."
"Josh... has the intellectual discipline to carry out independent research," said Dr. Lewis Greenstein, Director of Friends World. "We think he has the potential to make significant contributions to understanding the problems associated with (managing) water resources."
Newton's advisor in the Friends World Program agrees.
"One of Josh's most impressive characteristics is his strong sense of social consciousness and commitment in his life and work," said Sarah Moran of Friends World's Latin American Center. "His research... is impressive not only for its thoroughness and diversity... but also in his... ability to sort through and analyze contradictory information."
Among his many honors, he has been a Student Representative to the Regional Councils of Friends World's centers in North America (Fall '96), Latin America (Spring '97), and the Middle East (Fall '98). After his Fulbright study, Newton will pursue a Master's degree with a focus on water policy.