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

Learn more about this program at an upcoming information session:

  • Friday, September 15, 12-1 in TMH 0225 GPC Classroom

This graduate-level course travels to the Amazon region of Madre de Dios in southeast Peru, the Andes in Cusco region, and the coastal capital of Lima to explore key environmental, development, and human rights issues confronting the country and strategies for addressing them. The central focus of the course is deforestation and its drivers in the Peruvian Amazon. Gold mining, logging, and agricultural expansion are direct factors in the loss of the Amazon rainforest, with major implications for climate change and the biodiversity crisis, and for indigenous communities. The picture, however, extends beyond the forest to broader questions about economic development, Amazon-Andes migration, conservation, and the global economy.

The Madre de Dios / Tambopata region in the western Amazon is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet. We stay at a beautiful research-oriented eco-lodge owned and operated by an indigenous community. We study this form of ecotourism as an example of employment-generating, environmentally-sound, and locally-managed sustainable development. This kind of approach is challenged by large-scale resource exploitation moving further into the rainforest, particularly illegal gold mining and its concomitant social problems, and the Interoceanic Highway, which cuts through the Madre de Dios region and has opened the region to increasing exploitation. We 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 environmental policy and resource management, democratic development, and marginalized peoples and human rights.

Course Director, Professor Tom Hilde, is also Co-Director of the Indonesia Program in the School of Public Policy’s Center for Global Sustainability. Professor Hilde has taught the course for over 10 years and brings over two decades of interest in and research on the region. 

To learn more about the program, read the program blog

*Note that tuition remission applies to the tuition cost of the course for students with graduate assistantships. 

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. All majors are welcome.

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.If any PLCY graduate student wishes to talk to someone about how this course fits into their degree plan, they should reach out to Ms. Hermione Pickett at

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 listed are for spring break 2024.

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.
Tuition $2,796
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.
Activities $100
Housing Fee $200
This fee represents the housing provided during the program.
Education Abroad Fee $700
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 $26
Out-of-pocket Costs
Meals (estimate) $100
Visa $0
Passport $165
Expedited Passport Processing (recommended) $60
Roundtrip Airfare (estimate) $1,000
Course Materials $10
Optional Activities/incidental expenses $100
Optional trip cancelation/interruption Insurance (estimate) $200

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 Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland. He teaches courses in Environment & Development, Environmental Ethics, and International Environmental Agreements. He also created and directs the Indonesia field course, which travels to Bali, Sumatra, 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