FES Proudly announces the opening of York's EcoCampus

On Monday, April 25, 2016, York U's Faculty of Environmental Studies opens The Lillian Meighen Wright Centre, the landmark building of York's EcoCampus and the new home of the Las Nubes Project.

A series of generous donations allowed York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies to consolidate 25 acres across from the Las Nubes Forest Reserve to create York’s EcoCampus. This location will serve as a local, national, and international hub dedicated to promoting education and research on neotropical conservation, community well-being and sustainable livelihoods, eco-health, and the creation of a biological corridor from Las Nubes to the Alexander Skutch Reserve.

York’s EcoCampus, which will consist of the landmark building, The Lillian Meighen Wright Centre, has already been established as the home of the Las Nubes Project and the headquarters of the Semester Abroad program in Environmental Studies. The Semester Abroad in Environmental Studies will be a highly experiential program oriented to hands-on learning offering a wide range of courses by FES Faculty. Other buildings on the EcoCampus will be created in the future. La Casita Azul, a nearby community resource centre, will be part of the impact of EcoCampus.

See more event coverage on YFile and in the galleries below.

The Lillian Meighen Wright Centre

map_of_corridorThe Lillian Meighen and Don Wright Foundation generously donated $750,000 to the Faculty of Environmental Studies to support the construction of the Lillian Meighen Wright Centre (LMWC). This facility is the landmark building of York’s EcoCampus and the new home of the Las Nubes Project. Breaking ground in May 2015 and completed in February 2016, the LMWC serves as the hub of activities as the EcoCampus grows.

The Lillian Meighen Wright Centre (LMWC), nestled in the core of a Biological Corridor managed by the Faculty of Environmental Studies, in collaboration with Universities, research institutes and the local communities, will serve as a local, national, and international hub dedicated to promoting Neotropical conservation, community based conservation, participatory methodologies in ecohealth and livelihood improvement, and sustainable development strategies. The LMWC and York’s EcoCampus is envisioned to be a destination for diverse seminars, congresses, retreats, residencies for researchers, writers, artists, performers, etc.

The Lillian Meighen Wright Centre is an innovative 400 square meter building that overlooks the Peñas Blancas River, and faces the primary rainforest of the Las Nubes Reserve.

This innovative building includes:
• Indoor Classrooms and Laboratories (capacity 35 people)
• Outdoor Indigenous Classroom (capacity 50 people)
• 2 double rooms with private baths (capacity 4 people)
• 2 multiple occupancy bedrooms with shared bathrooms
• Dining Room with conference capacity
• Computer and Audiovisual Facilities
• Rainforest Trails in the Las Nubes Reserve
• Community Hikes in the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor
• Riparian Forest trails along the Penas Blancas River
• Referral Services for homestays, guides & research assistants
• New home of the Las Nubes Project in Neotropical Conservation
• For booking and event inquires contact Felipe Montoya fmontoya@yorku.ca
Learn more at lasnubes.info.yorku.ca/community/lmwc

The Las Nubes Project

field_course.jpgThe Las Nubes Project was created by Dr. Howard Daugherty of the Faculty of Environmental Studies, after a generous donation of 400 acres of Costa Rican rainforest was made by noted Toronto physician Dr. Woody Fisher to York U in 1998.

The Fisher Fund for Neotropical Conservation, created in honour of Dr. Fisher, supports the protection of the biological and ecological values of the Las Nubes Rainforest and adjacent area in southern Costa Rica. Working with the Faculty of Environmental Studies, and the Tropical Science Center in San José, the Fisher Fund has made significant achievements in research and conservation programs in biodiversity protection, rural sustainability, environmental education in local schools, and the use of Geographic Information Systems and remote sensing as decision-support tools for environmental management. Since its inception, the Fischer Fund has been supported by a dedicated group of donors, who contribute generously to the Project’s legacy and ongoing achievements annually.

la_casita_azulPresently, under the direction of Prof. Felipe Montoya, the Las Nubes Project mission is to contribute to community well-being in ways that are compatible and conducive to environmental conservation.  Las Nubes does this through faculty and student research, environmental education, and community engagement initiatives.  By means of the Project's permanent and long-term presence and relationship with local communities and organizations, Las Nubes aims to develop a grounded theory and praxis around the sustainability of healthy and gratifying rural lifeways respectful of, and in harmony with the natural environment.

Creation of Las Nubes 
Las Nubes (“The Clouds”) is a rainforest in Costa Rica which has generously been donated to York University by Dr. Woody Fisher, a prominent Toronto physician, medical researcher and co-founder of the Canadian Liver Foundation. York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies created the Fisher Fund for Neotropical Conservation to protect this rainforest habitat through an partnership with Costa Rica’s Tropical Science Center.

The Faculty of Environmental Studies is a leading centre in Canada for research on environmental and community sustainability issues.

The Tropical Science Center, established in 1962, is one of the pre-eminent ecological research and conservation institutions in the Neotropics. The TSC has pioneered the “protected areas” movement in Latin America through the creation of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve.

Inauguration of York's EcoCampus

On Monday, April 25, 2016, York U's Faculty of Environmental Studies opens The Lillian Meighen Wright Centre, the landmark building of York's EcoCampus and the new home of the Las Nubes Project. Read the YFILE event coverage here.

La Casita Azul

La Casita Azul is a resource centre that supports York’s increasing socio-environmental research, education and community outreach within Costa Rica. It opened July 2015 as part of the Las Nubes Project.

The resource centre came together through a collaborative venture between York University Libraries and the Faculty of Environmental Studies and it provides research and educational opportunities within, and about, the Biological Corridor.

Situated in the midst of the local communities in Costa Rica, Casita Azul supports and enhances York’s Eco-Campus in Costa Rica while playing an important role in research intensification, knowledge mobilization, community engagement, citizen science, research dissemination, engagement and outreach. Working closely with local community members and organizations, Diandra Arias-Vasquez oversees the day-to-day operations of the centre and plays many other roles such as organizing patron-driven courses. A few locally-driven initiatives, such as a computer literacy program, are being hosted by La Casita Azul. Enthusiastic local support for these programs has led to planning for several more in the New Year.

La Casita Azul offers access to the internet and some York online resources, printing and a place to study. It will continue to grow and develop relevant print and online resources in English and Spanish as well as continue to provide equitable access to relevant resources.

Please contact Dana Craig (dcraig@yorku.ca) and Tom Scott (tscott@yorku.ca), York librarians, with your questions and suggestions.

Student Experience

Starting in Summer 2017, the Faculty of Environmental Studies will expand its Las Nubes Field Course program to offer students the opportunity to take a Semester Abroad at York's EcoCampus. This will be a unique program for our students, with the opportunity to take York classes on a York campus overseas with York professors.

The emphasis of the program will be on experiential education, building on our long-standing relationships with diverse communities and groups in southern Costa Rica, including women’s organizations, agricultural producers and cooperatives, environmental protection and social justice groups and Indigenous communities. Courses will usually take a community-based approach, developing collaborative projects that provide learning opportunities.

We will take advantage of our new Eco-Campus to offer students a wide range of course options, including courses in:

  • Tropical ecology
  • Environmental education
  • Community arts
  • Environment and health
  • Renewable energy