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Visiting Scholar to Discuss Maya Communities


SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A Syracuse University alumna who has done extensive research with Maya communities in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico will speak April 24 at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

Dr. Betty Bernice Faust will present the annual W.J. Donlon Lecture, titled "Indigenous Knowledge: Maya Environmental Successes and Failures," at 3:30 p.m. in Moon Library Conference Room.

Faust has been researching Maya communities for 15 years, focusing on their interaction with the environment. In 1992, she began collaborating with a Maya priest/healer, recording his traditional knowledge about human and environmental health. They have since been joined by an archaeologist/climatologist and they are analyzing the local effects of global warming and Maya cultural knowledge about climate shifts and extreme climatic events.

In her presentation at ESF, Faust will analyze claims that the Maya have been responsible for contemporary and ancient problems of soil overuse and deforestation in the Yucatan. She will discuss traditional agriculture, climate shifts and common property management.

Faust did graduate work at Syracuse University. She received a master's degree in public administration in 1982 and a doctorate in anthropology in 1988.

In 1994, she became affiliated with CINVESTAV, the Mexican national research center.

During her recent sabbatical, she came to ESF as the William J. Donlon visiting scholar. The position was endowed in 1993 by Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation to honor its retired chairman and chief executive officer. The endowment brings to ESF distinguished scientists working nationally or internationally in the natural resource, engineering or environmental fields.

Faust is the author of Mexican Rural Development and the Plumed Serpent: Maya Cosmology and Technology in the Tropical Forest of Campeche, Mexico.