UMD: A Globally Connected University

UMD-Spring Break: Peru: Sustainable Development, Environmental Policy and Human Rights (PLCY)

Cusco, Peru
Lima, Peru
Madre de Dios, Peru
Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Terms Offered: 
Spring Break
Program Type: 
Credit Type: 
Minimum GPA: 
Non-UMD Students Eligible to Apply: 
Yes, see eligibility tab for more details
Graduate Students Eligible to Apply: 
EA Advisor:
Language of Instruction: 

Peru trees with fog

This graduate-level course travels to the Amazon region of Madre de Dios in southeast Peru and to the coastal capital of Lima to explore key environmental, development, and human rights issues confronting the country and strategies for addressing them. In the Amazonian Madre de Dios / Tambopata region – one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet – we stay at Posada Amazonas, a research-oriented eco-lodge co-owned and operated by the Ese’eja indigenous community of Infierno and an ecotourism company. We study this cooperative arrangement of ecotourism as an example of employment-generating, environmentally-sound, self-managed local development and capacity building. This kind of approach and the Amazon ecosystem itself are challenged by large-scale resource exploitation moving further into the rainforest, particularly illegal gold mining and its concomitant social problems, and the recently completed Interoceanic Highway, which cuts through the Madre de Dios region. We also observe first-hand the natural richness of Peru’s Amazon rainforest and its wildlife and examine the efforts and challenges of Peruvians in seeking livelihood development models consistent with the health of the natural environment.

In the Andes, we are based in Cusco, a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage city and the former center of Incan civilization. From Cusco, we investigate the drivers of migration to the gold mining regions and to Lima from poor Quechua communities in the Andes. We meet with NGOs working to address poverty in the region, as well as the problems of persistent inequality, environmental change, and questions of governance. This takes us to small villages in the sierra to meet with farmers and others developing new ways to gain income in line with their respect for the earth and their communities.

In Lima, we engage in discussions with top experts and officials from government, civil society, and academia working on issues related to democratic development, environmental policy and resource management, and marginalized peoples and human rights.

To learn more about the program, read the program blog

You must be in good academic and judicial standing and you must not have any registration blocks to participate in this program. The minimum GPA for this program is listed above.

Non-UMD and UMD juniors, seniors and graduate students are eligible to apply.

If you are interested in this program but do not meet the eligibility requirements, reach out to the program director (listed in the Contacts tab) to discuss your interest in the program.

Bachelors/MPP students wishing to apply should first contact Eva Morgan at the School of Public Policy ( about eligibility for the course and, if eligible, their undergraduate department advisor in order to obtain the necessary signatures or stamps.

After you commit to the program, Education Abroad will enroll you in the following three (3) credit UMD course:

  • PLCY798T: Readings in Public Policy: Sustainable Development, Democracy, and Human Rights in Peru

The credit you earn during this program will count as resident credit.

You will attend three pre-departure class meetings and actively participate in discussions on the course readings, the majority of which should be completed prior to departure. One post-trip session will be held in early April.

In the Amazonian Tambopata region, we will stay at Posada Amazonas, an eco-lodge co-owned and operated by the Ese'eja indigenous community of Infierno and the adventure company, Rainforest Expeditions. In Cusco and Lima, we will stay in hotels. All lodging is arranged by the course directors. 

**Costs are current for spring break 2020.

Application Fee $50
Billable Costs
Billable costs are charged to your student account. They are due based on the Office of Student Financial Services and Cashiering payment schedule. Be sure to check your statements when they are available.
Education Abroad Fee $500
This fee is charged to your account when the application status changes from "Accepted" to "Committed." This fee includes Education Abroad services including registration, billing, advising, risk management, and pre-departure orientation.
International Health Insurance $25
Tuition $2,075
This fee is charged to your UMD account upon course registration. This fee includes: Tuition, in-country transportation, course related activities, group meals, and teaching services.
Housing Fee $200
This fee represents the housing provided during the program.
Out-of-pocket Costs
Meals (estimate) $50
Visa $0
Passport $145
Roundtrip Airfare (estimate) $800
Course Materials $15
Optional Activities/incidental expenses $100
Optional trip cancelation/interruption Insurance (estimate) $180

NOTE: If you are a non-UMD graduate student, you will need to pay a $75 application fee to the UMD graduate school to participate in this program.

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.

Tom Hilde is a Research Professor in the School of Public Policy and Senior Fellow in the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland. He teaches courses in Environment & Development, Environmental Ethics, and International Environmental Agreements. He also created and directs the Indonesia course, which travels to Bali, North Sumatra, Aceh, and Java to explore complex social-ecological systems, adaptation, and sustainable development. Trained in philosophy, Hilde moved to UMD from New York University, where he directed the Environmental Conservation Education Program and the Applied Philosophy Group, and taught interdisciplinary seminars in environmental politics and ethics, globalization, and international development. He has published the books, The Agrarian Roots of Pragmatism (2000) and On Torture (2008). Hilde was a Fulbright senior scholar in Venezuela in 2005 and Safra Network Fellow at Harvard University during 2014-2015.

For course, itinerary or in-country information, please contact the Program Director. For general questions or assistance with applying, contact Education Abroad.

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

  • Meetings with government officials, researchers, and NGOs working on environmental issues, development issues, and human rights in Puerto Maldonado, Cusco, and Lima)
  • Trekking in the Amazon rainforest
  • Visiting the Infierno indigenous community in the Amazon
  • Visiting Quechua mountain villages in the Andes
  • Some sightseeing in Cusco
Term Year Application Deadline Admission Notification Program Start Program End
Spring Break 2024 10/01/2023 10/11/2023 03/15/2024 03/24/2024