Academic CoursesEcuador

  • TBA  Introduction to the Chemistry of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining

  • TBA The Chemistry of Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining

  • TBA Special Topics: Mercury Aerosol Capture and Reuse Systems for Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining Operations

  • TBA Current Topics in Public Health:  Community-Based Practices
  • CSL 210 The Practice of Global Development
  • SPN 353S  Special Topics: Communication and Culture in Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Communities (Prerequisites –SPANISH 252)

****Students are required to sign up for 6 hours of credit from among these course options.


  • Adam M. Kiefer, Ph.D.- Assistant Professor of Chemistry, College of Liberal Arts

  • Laura Lackey, Ph.D., P.E. - Interim Dean and Professor, Department of Engineering

  • Alana Alvarez, Ph. D. - Assistant Professor, Department of Foreign Languages and Literature

  • Brad Lian, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Community Medicine

  • Michelle Vaughn , Ph. D.- Assistant Professor, Tift College of Education

  • Sybil Keesbury, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Tift College of Education

  • Craig McMahan, Ph.D. - Dean of Chapel / Director of Mercer On Mission

Ecuador 3

Location: Peru

Chemistry Program Highlights

Artisanal gold miners around the world harvest ore from mountains and streams, and then process the ore with mercury and/or cyanide to extract the gold. These processes release a tremendous amount of toxic materials into the surrounding environment and communities.  Mercer students will teach miners and gold processors basic chemical hygiene and safety when using mercury and cyanide to extract gold from ore.  Students will also use cutting edge technology to monitor human health and environmental pollution, and will develop rapid, in-field tests to determine miner exposure to mercury and cyanide.  Lastly, students will map point sources of mercury contamination to determine the fate of mercury in the atmosphere.  All findings will be shared with miners, mining officials, and various governmental agencies Ecuador 2working in the area.


Engineering Program Highlights

A frequented practice of artisanal and small-scale gold miners (ASGM) in underdeveloped countries uses mercury to purify gold from ore; this process is referred to as amalgamation. When mercury is in contact with pure gold, the two elements combine to form a compound termed an amalgam. As the mercury is liberated from the amalgam, miners often inhale toxic vapors and mercury is released into the air, soil, and water. Mercer University students will participate in the design, installation, and testing of three mercury aerosol capture and reuse devices.

Public Health Highlights

Potentially harmful substances may be released into the air, soil, and water during mining processes, perhaps affecting the health of those immediately involved as well as residents of surrounding communities. Furthering our understanding of the health systems, beliefs, and issues in mining regions may improve lives. This course will provide the context for community health needs assessments work in under-resourced areas of the world.

Students will learn principles of conducting needs assessments and field research in public health and then actively engage in the research process by conducting capacity and service assessments of local institutions and organizations involved in healthcare.

Students will also be exposed to broader issues and topics specific to the location, such as mining processes, health education, literacy, culture, and health beliefs and gain a better appreciation and understanding of the opportunities, obstacles, and challenges associated with everyday living and surviving in under-resourced regions of the world. Their work may ultimately help local institutions, officials, and scholars better identify the region’s health-related needs and develop priorities and contextually relevant responses.

Spanish Program Highlights

Cultural understanding and excellent communication between Mercer On Mission program members and communities are essential in order to ensure both the success and sustainability of a project.

Spanish students will be prepared through class work prior to travel for both communication and translation in a three part course including medical, education, engineering and chemistry related terminology.

Students will have field experience interacting with miners, mining officials and governmental agencies working in the area. 

Contact Information

For more information, e-mail or call (478) 301-2992.