Research at the bottom of the world
The Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program received a major financial boost in 2018 when the Chilean government awarded the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve $20 million for the construction of a new Sub-Antarctic Cape Horn Center, which is being constructed in Puerto Williams, Chile, at the southern tip of South America. The center, scheduled to open in 2020, aims to become a national and international model for the long-term study of social sciences and ecology in the context of global climate change.
“This means an opportunity to strengthen the social mission and research excellence in a privileged place for the monitoring of climate change and testing of a sustainable development,” says Ricardo Rozzi, the director of the Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program and a UNT professor of philosophy and religion.
The Sub-Antarctic Cape Horn Center will be a world-class 2,750 square-meter facility focused on promoting sustainable development for the Chilean Antarctic Province. In addition to featuring space dedicated to scientific research that aims to attract specialists from around the world, the center also will include an interpretive visitor center where tourists can learn about the biodiversity of Cape Horn.
The Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program is a consortium led by UNT in the U.S., and other Chilean universities and institutions. Since 2006, students from UNT and various other U.S. and South American universities have participated in Tracing Darwin’s Path, a study abroad program in the UNESCO Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve that blends environmental philosophy and biology with the study of art and culture. The Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program at UNT, the Universidad de Magallanes and the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity in Chile coordinate this interdisciplinary program. In June 2018, UNT joined the University of Magallanes in Chile, the Catholic University of Chile and the Chilean Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity in consolidating a partnership strategy for the management of the Cape Horn center.
“The new center will provide UNT students along with students around the world with an extraordinary opportunity to experience the transdisciplinary approach to biocultural conservation in one of the last pristine regions of the world,” says Rozzi.