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The SU Belize Program includes 2 credits in the Spring and a 6-credit, 4 week summer program abroad. It focuses on the unusually diverse tropical ecologies and cultural groups that make up Belize. Belize is a small English-speaking country in Central America whose Eastern border lies on the Caribbean Sea.
The program introduces students first-hand to Creole, Maya and Garifuna cultures and their connections to the terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats. Central themes include a critical examination of cacao and chocolate production, an exploration of freshwater and marine resources, and an investigation of the intertwined racial histories and cultural ecologies.
SU Belize Study Abroad Program
Click here to check out what you can see on the 2024 program!
- Southwestern University Faculty Contact
Dr. Melissa Johnson, Professor of Anthropology
Dr. Romi Burks, Professor of Biology
- Key Dates
- Fall 2023 Term-TBA
Application Deadline: December 1, 2023
Note: it is required to attend an Information Session or Advising prior to Application
Program Start Date: May 21, 2024
Program End Date: June 19, 2024
The estimated cost for this four-week program is between $5,755 and $6,000. Cost is based on enrollment and may change.
The program cost includes:
- $1,000 non-refundable deposit (Amount to be confirmed)
- 6 credits of tuition
- Pre-departure materials
- Airport pick-up and ground transportation to and from the airport
- Organized excursions including transportation, hotel, breakfast, some meals, entrance fees
- Dedicated staff support for the program
- Health insurance coverage for the duration of the program
The program cost does not include:
- International airfare
- Baggage fees and travel insurance
- Passport and visa expenses
- Additional meals (all meals on weekends, lunch and dinner during excursions)
- Local transportation
- Personal expenses: toiletries, activities, snacks, personal travel, souvenirs, etc.
Students will take 2 credits during the Spring 2024 semester (BIO 50-301 or AT35-301).
Students will take 6 credits during Summer 2024 (BIO 50-303 or ANT 35-303)
BIO 50-301 and BIO 50-303 Ecologies of Belize with Romi Burks
In this course, we combine experiential learning about biodiversity in Belize by exploring three different habitats (forest, wetlands & marine reefs) to understand how different communities of Belizeans (Belizean Creole, Maya and Garifuna peoples) see, interact and protect the environment. By staying in rural communities of each cultural group, experiencing three different habitats in person, and reading primary literature about biodiversity research in Belize, students will learn in a deep and embodied perspective about how these different habitats contribute to Belizean diversity and culture. Experiencing not only the expertise of Dr. Burks as an internationally recognized expert on apple snails (Pomacea spp.) and a respected educator about chocolate, students will also learn from guest lecturers who are experts on these specific habitats, Students will come away with a strong understanding of Belize’s history in conservation ecology and its current role as a highly desirable site for ecotourism. This course fulfills: Upper level Biology (without lab), Natural Science General Education, Environment Studies Science or Elective, Animal Studies Minor.
ANT 35-301 and ANT 35-303 Cultures and Ecologies of Belize with Melissa Johnson
In this course we combine experiential learning about Belize, its history and five of its important cultural groups Belizean Creole, Yucatec, Mopan and Kekchi Maya and Garifuna peoples. Through staying in rural communities of each cultural group over the course of our stay in Belize, and closely interacting with people from the communities and reading anthropological and historical texts about Belize and these different groups, students will learn deeply about each cultural group. Additionally, students will be engaging with not only Dr. Johnson’s expertise as an internationally recognized scholar of the cultures and history Belize, but also with guest lecturers and panels who are experts on these specific groups. Students will thus learn both in a traditional academic and in a deep and embodied manner about these different sociocultural worlds (each associated with particular foods, lifeways, music, languages, etc.). Students will come away with a strong understanding of Belize’s history and contemporary situation as a Caribbean and Central American nation with a British colonial history, and with a deep understanding of five different cultural traditions. This course fulfills: Upper level Anthropology, Environmental Studies course (that can count towards the Environmental Justice requirement within the major), Social Sciences area course, possibly a Social Justice General Education course.
- Housing & Meals
NOTE: These are the expectations for the program-the details are to be finalized soon!
Student accommodations will range from shared hotel, hostel or lodge rooms and home-stays throughout the duration of the program; linens and towels, internet and daily breakfast included. Welcome and farewell group meals will be included. Students are responsible for all other meals.
- Cultural Activities & Excursions
Note: This is the expected activities and excursions for the program-details to be finalized soon!
Students will participate in several local cultural excursions in Belize throughout the program. Activities and excursions will include: Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve, chocolate farm tour, exploring Maya ruins, Green Iguana conservation project, guided tour of Belize zoo, tour of Crooked Tree lagoon, river boat trips, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Community Baboon Sanctuary. Students will also learn how chocolate is made at different Maya cacao farms. Meetings and cultural activities with members of Maya, Creole, Garifuna and other native communities are also part of the program’s activities.
This program will take students to various regions and cities throughout Belize including: San Ignacio, Crooked Tree, Caye Caulker, Belize City and more.