Overseas Research Center: A Brief History



The Overseas Research Center, founded in 1967 by Dr. David K. Evans, an anthropologist at Wake Forest University, assumed the mission of taking students into newly-developing areas of the planet to study developmental issues and the impact of these factors on the natural environment and the health of the people. Dr. Evans began work on Roatán in 1961 and, beginning with the founding of the ORC in 1967, conducted research in many areas of the world, including the then British Honduras (Belize), the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland, the Andes of Venezuela, the Talamanca Rain Forest of Costa Rica, and Saba Island in the Netherlands Antilles. Altogether, since founding the ORC in 1967, hundreds of students from Wake Forest University and other institutions, have lived and studied on Roatán Island. During the summer of 2000 there were graduate students on the island, from other institutions in the United States, who had once worked as undergraduate student participants of the ORC.

In 1974, Dr. Evans leased property in the mountains of Roatán for his family, and purchased this land in 1995 to construct a retirement home and research center. Construction of La Casa Promesa began in 1996 on the highest point of the small 20 acre estate known as Ruby Lee Ridge. Construction of this main house, bodega, watchman/caretakers cottage, student bunkhouse, water system, swimming pool, and cement, all-weather road was completed by the year 1999. Before completion of the ORC's facilities, students and faculty were housed in the small, family-owned Harbour View Hotel in the nearby fishing village of French Harbour.

Dr. Evans retired in September 1999, after 33 years of teaching, and continues, under contract with Wake Forest University, as Director of The Overseas Research Center. As part of his retirement goals, Dr. Evans has formed a privately-owned Limited Liability Company (ORC-LLC) totally separate from the ORC at Wake Forest University that is in no way related to the University.   In the summer of 2000 Dr. Evans, within the new ORC-LLC  invited two groups of teachers and their younger students from The Summit School of Winston-Salem, N.C.. This pilot project with middle school students was considered highly successful and the ORC-LLC will continue to work with younger students in the future. The ORC at Wake Forest University will continue to invite University level undergraduates to participate in its Ethnographic Field School through the Office of Summer School at Wake Forest University. The privately-owned and operated Limited Liability Company (ORC-LLC) invites and works with other institutions and  researchers at the facilities at Ruby Lee Ridge Estate, Roatan Island, Honduras. Through the new ORC-LLC efforts are being finalized to invite and host teachers and their students from Honduras to participate with their American counterparts in future seminars, research projects, and studies to be conducted at La Casa Promesa on the Ruby Lee Ridge Estate. Plans call for the first bi-cultural teacher-student groups to begin working together in the spring and summer of 2002. The major goals of the ORC-LLC remain working closely with teachers and their students to tailor-make research and study projects that will best fit the individual needs and goals of particular students, while at the same time keeping the institution's primary research interests in sharp focus.

Anyone interested in the goals and facilities of either the Overseas Research Center of Wake Forest University or the newly formed ...but totally unrelated ORC-LLC should feel free to contact Dr. Evans by the following means:

By Mail: Dr. David K. Evans
Director, The Overseas Research Center
Box 7807, Reynolda Station Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, N.C. 27109
Phone: (336) 759-2187
The Overseas Research Center- LLC
Phone:  (336) 759-2187

E-Mail dkevans@wfu.edu

The Ethnographic Field School

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