No matter which way you slice it, environmental issues are global issues. Whether you’re focused on climate change, conservation, sustainability, or eco-agriculture, there’s great impact to be made around the world.
That’s why hundreds of environmental science majors choose to spend a semester abroad in Latin America taking courses needed for graduation. Join an environmental study abroad program to meet students from around the world who share your passion for earth and science and get involved in meaningful service learning programs that broadens classroom knowledge and incorporates hands-on experience in everyday learning.
Academic Courses For Environmental Studies
Study abroad semesters are intended to allow university students to travel and immerse themselves in culture without sacrificing a delay in graduation. The program requires study abroad participants to enroll in two university Spanish language courses and two major-specific courses. Your Spanish level will determine which Spanish course you’ll take, but all environmental studies majors can choose between a sustainability course, and social justice and responsibility.
SUST 301 – Introduction to Sustainability
The Intro to Sustainability course uses Latin America as a case study to explore ecological and environmental health, economic welfare, sustainable business practices, and social justice. Students will identify human and natural systems as they relate to sustainability, identify the results of collective and individual actions, and analyze the intricacies of sustainability from a multidisciplinary perspective.
SOC 301 – Social Justice & Social Responsibility
Social Justice & Responsibility aims to inform students of the social injustice which occurs in Latin America such as indigenous rights, women’s empowerment, LGBTQ rights, student movements, and environmental issues as it relates to Latin America’s economy, culture, history, religion, and politics.
The final project requires students to choose a Latin American country and focus on a relevant social justice issue. Students will analyze social justice, development, and sustainability alongside societal elements and interests.
Courses make up the first 8 weeks of your semester abroad where you can gain up to 12 credits for completing 4 classes.
In-Field Work Experience
There are three projects environmental studies students get to choose from for the service-learning portion of their study abroad program; Sea Turtle Conservation, Eco-Agriculture, or Amazon Jungle Conservation.
Sea Turtle Conservation
Both Costa Rica and Guatemala take part in the sea turtle conservation projects. The Central American countries are home to the Olive Ridley, Loggerhead, Leatherback, Hawksbill, and Green sea turtles – all of which are considered to be in danger of extinction.
Participants work alongside research biologists to help collect and analyze data on returning sea turtles, nesting sites, and eggs. You will also help to build and protect hatcheries, get involved in beach patrols, coordinate beach clean-up activities, and provide educational outreach to the surrounding communities.
Students learn how sea turtles directly impact the health of the beaches they come home to nest on and leave with a new perspective on the interconnectedness between man and nature.
Eco-agriculture is an extremely important aspect of environmental studies. As countries become more financially dependent on Earth’s resources, it is imperative that farmers are doing all they can to reap what they sow in the most sustainable form.
Eco-agriculture projects are available in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru and each country brings a unique product to the forefront. For example, both Costa Rica and Peru allow coffee aficionados the opportunity to truly give thanks for their fresh cup of joe by working on a coffee farm. However, in addition, Peru allows those who prefer tea to learn about its production on a tea farm, while those who rather indulge in sweets can get involved in the production of cacao. Guatemala’s eco-agriculture project emphasizes traditional permaculture techniques used to maximize sustainability efforts today.
Service-learning volunteers will work alongside farmers to assist with organic farming tasks for their intended product. Students get involved with everything from picking, weeding, planting, processing, and packaging.
Service-learning projects can last anywhere from 4-8 weeks, and students can expect to receive 3-6 credits for their involvement.
Amazon Jungle Conservation
Where would the world be without the Amazon jungle? Known famously as “the Earth’s lungs” the Amazon jungle is the biggest resource the planet has for absorbing carbon dioxide and producing fresh oxygen. That’s why ensuring its conservation is a top priority for many environmental scientists around the world.
The conservation program focuses on reforestation and planting in an effort to reverse the damage caused by commercial industries. However, your tasks will depend on the season and the imperative needs of the project. In addition to reforestation efforts, you might be responsible for organic gardening, wildlife and animal monitoring, trail maintenance, and educational workshops.
Hands-down one of the most exciting experiences during a semester abroad are the travel excursions. Whether they occur in tandem with your academic courses, or during a separate week of your semester abroad, you can be sure you’ll receive academic credit for unforgettable memories.
Additionally, educational credit may be granted for professionally-guided excursions to sites such as Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica, Machu Picchu in Peru, and the ancient Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala.
Educational travel opportunities can happen at any point throughout your semester abroad. Depending on your home institution one credit may be granted for professionally guided educational excursion.
How to Get University Credit Abroad
University credit is granted for academic courses, service learning projects, internship work, and educational travel during a semester abroad. Maximo Nivel works directly with your home university to ensure a seamless transfer of credits from our program to your school’s official record. Before enrolling in the program, students are required to speak to an academic counselor to understand your school’s requirements for credit transfer.
Another way to gain credits is from the Maximo Nivel official School of Record. The School of Record provides enrolled students with an academic transcript and credits are eligible for transfer into any 4-year university in the United States.
Most university students sit in class daydreaming about their next adventure abroad, but that doesn’t have to be you! Environmental science majors yearn to experience the world around them with their senses to help them understand the subject on a more profound level. Spend your next semester traveling through Latin America while you gain academic credits through coursework, service-learning projects that matter, and educational travel adventures with science lovers just like you.