Program Details

Location: Belize City, Belize

Dates: Summer 2019: June 24–August 6, 2019

Accommodations: Primarily camping, occasional youth hostel or rural lodge

Credits: 15 quarter credits or 10 semester credits

Language: English instruction

Courses: ESCI 437A, ESCI 437B, ESCI 437C

Prerequisites: One college level course of ecology or similar,
18 years of age

Program Costs

Belize Summer 2019
$    150    Application Fee
$ 5,500    Program Fee
$ 3,000    Estimated In-Country Group Fee
$    900    Estimated Airfare
$    800    Estimated Food Money/Personal Spending

$10,350  Total Estimated Cost
Summer 2019: Program fees due by May 1, 2019 


The Program

Team members will have a unique opportunity for hands-on field investigations of environmental challenges facing Belize today. Because of Belize’s rich biodiversity and its relative isolation, little is known about much of the nation’s flora and fauna, and that which is known is incompletely understood. The opportunity for discovery awaits us on many levels.

In Belize, team members will conduct key ecological research monitoring, including scientific observations, animal identification and wildlife transects. Traversing the country from mountains to the coast, we will examine animal populations in Belize’s principle terrestrial ecosystems (rainforests, coastal mangroves, lagoons, and riparian zones) and assess the effectiveness and long-range sustainability of resource management strategies in Belize’s protected nature reserves.

Off the Belize coast exists the second largest barrier reef in the world. Studded with mangrove and coconut palmed cayes, and guarded by atolls to the east, the 180 mile long reef is ecologically complex and intimately tied to the rainforests through its many water courses that deliver nutrients to the sea. In this system, dazzling numbers and varieties of plants and animals are supported, including thirty coral species, sea turtles, manatees, and over 250 varieties of fish, living in and along the reef system.

Snorkeling through the reef environment we will closely study the ecology of the system, collect evidence of human disturbance and assess the impact of increased human use. Belize’s cultural geography will be a third focus of our field studies. Belize is a land inhabited by an extraordinary mix of peoples. Our studies will take us to various cultures, and at times we may find ourselves as their guests. We will conduct informal interviews with local people, collecting personal histories and perceptions of the country from the various ethnic groups living within its borders. In this manner, we will develop a sense of how the different cultures see themselves in relation to the land, and how the concepts of conservation and stewardship vary across cultural lines and through time. We will also consider the effects, both environmental and economic, of Belize’s vast protected nature reserves on local communities, as well as the enhancement or degradation of their cultural senses of history, place and home.

By the end of the project all of us will have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of Belize's unparalleled environmental and cultural diversity, and we will have developed the ability to employ scientific field methods, evaluated firsthand a variety of conservation management techniques and explored the human element in wildland and wildlife stewardship.

Program Photo Gallery


More Details






Terry McCloskey

Program Leader

PhD in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Louisiana State University, 2009

Terry is a coastal scientist and tropical paleoenvironmentalist, interested in the effect of climate change, especially as it affects the relationship between human society and the natural environment. His undergraduate thesis looked at the effects of hurricanes on ancient Maya agriculture, while his dissertation focused on changes in the frequency of hurricane landfall in the western Caribbean. Before returning to the United States for his education Terry spent 20 years pioneering a small farm in central Belize. He was a founding member of Five Blues Lake National Park, a community managed Park near his home in Belize, and served as Secretary of the Steering Committee for a large UN-funded project aimed at developing community co-management of protected areas throughout the country. Terry has conducted research throughout North and Central America and the Caribbean, from Quebec through Barbados, and will lead our Belize Program starting Summer 2019.