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UMD-Summer: Brazil: Brazilian Amazon: Environmental Conservation and Indigenous Peoples (ANTH/LASC/AMST)

Aukre, Brazil
Par?, Brazil
Tucum?, Brazil
Terms offered: 
Program Type: 
Credit Type: 
Minimum GPA: 
Non-UMD Students Eligible to Apply: 
Language of Instruction: 

Face paint (attr Ali Ballantyne)

Join us this summer in Brazil for a once in a lifetime experience where you will learn from local communities what obstacles and opportunities lie ahead for sustainable Amazonian futures. You will begin the course in the city of Maraba and then travel by private bus through the Amazon frontier to the town of Tucuma where the local Kayapo organization “Protected Forest Association” is based and from where the group will fly by air taxi to the Kayapo village of A’Ukre. In Maraba and Tucuma you will witness the processes of deforestation, road-building, and urbanization that grip the Amazon and challenge the Kayapo as they work to protect their lands and culture.

For most of the program, you will explore the role of indigenous peoples in conservation and development in a highly threatened Amazonian environment by

  • living with the Kayapo, an Amazonian indigenous group, in one of their villages (A’Ukre) to learn about Kayapo traditional culture and subsistence livelihood, and
  • camping at the Pinkaiti biological station to learn about tropical forest ecology. 

Anthropologists, tropical biologists and Kayapo instructors accompany and teach this course based in the village of A’Ukre and Pinkaiti forest camp.

You must be in good academic and judicial standing to participate in this program. The minimum GPA for this program is listed above.

All undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to participate in this program.

This is an intense 3 week, 6-credit ethnographic field methods course that combines anthropological approaches to indigenous rights, development and conservation with perspectives from tropical forest ecology. Readings and course material will include samples from conservation biology, cultural anthropology as well as other academic disciplines.

After you commit to the program, Education Abroad will enroll you in one of the following six (6) credit UMD courses:

  • ANTH498C Advanced Field Training in Ethnography: Brazil: Environmental Conservation and Indigenous Peoples (6 credits)
  • ANTH238B or AMST269B Topics in Study Abroad II: Lived Existence: Perspective in Native American Identity (6 credits)
  • ANTH698C Advanced Field Training in Ethnology: Brazil: Ethnographic Fieldwork (6 credits)
  • LASC448F Special Topics in Latin American Studies: Brazilian Ethnography (3 credits) & LASC448G Special Topics in Latin American Studies: Environmental Conservation and Indigenous Peoples (3 credits)

The courses your complete during this program will count as resident credit.

You will live in tents at the research station in the rainforest on the edge of a Kayapó village in Aukre. In Marabá, you will stay in a hotel. Meals will be provided, but otherwise you should expect sleeping, showering and bathroom facilities comparable to those found in any wilderness camping experience.

These costs are current for Summer 2015.

Billable Costs
Application Fee $50
Program Fee $5,430
This fee is collected in two installments: 1) $250 non-refundable deposit: Due by (March 18th) or within 48 hours of acceptance if accepted on or after that date 2) Remainder of program fee: Charged to the student's UMD account upon course registration. Due May 20th.

The program fee includes: $250 deposit, International Health Insurance, 6 credits of tuition, housing, most meals, and Education Abroad services including registration, billing, advising, risk management, and pre-departure orientation.

Out-of-pocket Costs
Meals (estimate) $100
Passport $140
Visa $160
Roundtrip Airfare (estimate) $1,900
Optional activities/ incidental expenses (estimate) $200


Please refer to the following resources for more information on funding study abroad

PLEASE NOTE: All University of Maryland study abroad programs are financially self-supporting and, therefore, subject to cancelation due to low enrollment.

Matthew Aruch is the program director, will lead all elements of this course. Matthew is the Assistant Director of the Science Technology and Society Program and a PhD student in International Education Policy at UMD. He has spent several years teaching in Costa Rica, Honduras, Ecuador and the United States.  He has been with the program since the Fall 2013.

The course was designed by Dr. Janet Chernela (University of Maryland), and Dr. Barbara Zimmerman (The Wild Foundation).  Janet Chernela is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland.  After receiving her PhD from Columbia University in 1983, she served on the faculty of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (National Institute of Amazonian Research, INPA) in Manaus.  She has worked among indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin for over three decades.  Her research interests include local environmental knowledge; indigenous rights and organizations; gender and language. 

For course, itinerary or in-country information, please contact the Program Director. For general questions or assistance with applying, contact EA Short-term Programs

As a part of this program, you will engage in the following:

  • Living and working in the village of Aukre learning about Kayapó culture and daily life. Activities may include fishing, beadwork, agricultural activities, sport, and village ceremonies, among others.
  • Coursework and time spent at Pinkaiti Research Station where you will observe and learn about the use of trees, plants, and animals by the Kayapo, logging practices and impacts in Amazon forest, tree and animal biology, and Amazon forest conservation.
  • Lectures that are supported by hikes in pristine rainforest - you will be accompanied by Kayapo and biologist experts as you observe and learn firsthand about forest ecology.

You should be prepared for rustic conditions and somewhat strenuous physical activities through both the Aukre and Pinkaiti portions of the program. 

Term Year Application Deadline Admission Notification Program Start Program End
Summerterm 2015 03/09/2015 03/11/2015 07/29/2015 08/16/2015