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  • Locations: Cuzco, Peru; Puerto Maldonado, Peru
  • Program Terms: Early Fall
  • Homepage: Click to visit
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Program Information:
sociology italy
 Location Cuzco, Madre de Dios in Peru
Early Fall 2017
August 26 – September 20, 2017
 Estimated    Program Fee $3,850
 Credits 5 UW credits
 Prerequisites None
 Program      Directors Ursula Valdez, Timothy Billo
 Program  Manager Carrie Moore |
 Application    Deadline March 1, 2017
 Information  Session(s) Mon, Jan. 23rd 2-3pm & Wed Feb. 8th 12-1pm - PoE Commons, Wallace Hall, 1st Floor, UW Seattle

Tues, Jan. 24th 11am-12pm & Thurs, Feb. 16th 3:30-4:30pm - OW1-361, UW Bothell
  General The Program explores the relationship between humans and biodiversity in one of the most species rich areas of the world, southeastern Peru.
Where You Will Study
Expenses, Financial Aid, & Scholarships


Program Description

This program examines conservation and sustainability issues in a biodiversity hotspot of global importance: southeastern Peru. The first week of the program takes place in the relatively arid highlands surrounding Cusco where we examine current and past human land-use practices and their impact on biodiversity. This portion of the program includes visits to Machu Picchu, a women’s weaving cooperative, local fruit and vegetable markets, an organic farm and environmentally focused school, Week 2 and 3 takes us to Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve where we lodge at biological field stations, both in mountain forests and remote lowland forests. We immerse ourselves in ecological exploration of pristine forest ecosystems and park buffer zones. Basic taxonomy of plant and animal groups will be discussed, as well as techniques for conducting biodiversity surveys. We continue our ecological studies, but also looking at the impacts of various human activities (road building, gold mining, cattle ranching) on biodiversity. For most this is a first foray into the tropical forests, and the sheer diversity of life is overwhelming. Becoming acquainted with the intricacies of tropical forest biodiversity is the first step to understanding what stands to be lost. Ultimately the course examines various stakeholders in biodiversity conservation and exploitation, and discusses compromise solutions that might prevent or slow the future loss of biodiversity.

Southeastern Peru is recognized as a biodiversity hotspot of international importance. It is also facing huge anthropogenic pressures from population growth and habitat loss, to oil exploitation, to road building, to mining, and climate change. Ecosystem changes are palpable. Yet these ecosystems are some of the least well understood in the world. We allow our students to become intimately familiar with tropical ecosystems and the pressures facing them. The techniques used to study them are best learned in the field setting, and the unique challenges faced by this region can only be understood by field observation and experience.



Cuzco, Madre de Dios in Peru


Cocha Cashu Biological Station, Wayqecha Field Station, Sacred Valley


Students and directors stay in biological field stations whenever possible. This is the best and cheapest way for students to immerse themselves in biological study. Where staying in biological field stations is not possible, i.e. during traveling periods of the course, we stay in a comfortable, clean, and reasonably priced hotels that are conveniently located for accessing supplies and travel to other course sites.


Pre-Requisites/Language Requirements

The directors encourage majors in a diversity of disciplines to apply. Students should be committed to an intense academic experience that requires constant engagement with peers, local communities, and the natural world, often in challenging outdoor conditions. Students who are willing to take up on challenges (intellectual, physical, social/international and for outdoor conditions) are ideal for our program.

Living conditions are at times very rustic with camping conditions for at least 70% of the time, but we are not doing backpacking trips or trekking. Students are expected to spend a significant portion of most days outside, often hiking. Weather can vary from cold/rainy to hot/humid with biting insects.

Prior coursework in ecology and evolution is helpful, but not required. Language skills are not a selection criteria nor a requirement, but the directors encourage selected students to practice their Spanish skills or take a basic Spanish course before traveling to Peru.


5 Credits


ENVIR 496 or BIOL 493/Honors 223 (5 credits)

This course explores the relationship between humans and biodiversity in one of the most species rich areas of the world, southeastern Peru. Students will have hands-on opportunity to gain skills in ecological research in rainforest preserves of global importance, as well as explore and understand the current pressing conservation issue in the area, and learn about current and historical relationships of humans and the environment. In addition, students may also have the opportunity to develop their skills on science communication and visual communication that integrates science and conservation. Visits to local communities will be scheduled to allow students to see how natural resources are being used, and to understand the day-to-day challenges faced by local communities. Past and present agricultural systems and their impact on the environment are also studied.

Learning Goals: 

  • Gain knowledge of basic tropical ecology and conservation and gain skills in introductory field research: students will be working in situ on this, and we will supervise and assess their learning directly.
  • Gain skills on writing scientific reports; a research paper will be submitted with the results of their research
  • Gain skills in documenting natural history events and produce pieces of science/conservation communication: students will submit a natural history journal, a blog entry and visual material that documents their learning
  • Gain knowledge of the current conservation issues in the area of study, including an understanding of different cultural practices with respect to resource use, as well as drivers of resource exploitation: students are expected to participate in frequent discussions and do presentations on assigned issues, based on field observations, field lecture, and outside reading.


Program Directors & Staff

Ursula Valdez, Department of POE, Program Director

Timothy Billo, Department of Environmental Studies, Program Co-Director

Program Expenses

Cost: $3,850

Estimated Program Fee of $3,850, the UW Study Abroad Fee ($350), airfare, UW Study Abroad Insurance ($62/month), other health expenses/immunizations and personal spending money.

*all meals are covered in program fee

Average Airplane Ticket Price

$1,200 - $1,800* roundtrip

*Subject to when & where you buy your ticket

Payment Schedule

Program fees will be posted to your MyUW student account and can be paid the same way that you pay tuition and other fees. Check your MyUW Account periodically for due dates.

Payment Type Payment Amount Payment Due Date
Non-Refundable Study Abroad Fee $350 October 13, 2017
Program Fee Balance $3,850 October 13, 2017


There are a variety of scholarships available to help fund your study abroad experience. Visit the Global Opportunities page for more information and application deadlines.


To be eligible to study abroad, all program participants must attend an in-person pre-departure orientation facilitated by the Study Abroad office as well as your program-specific orientations, offered by your program director.

You must register for orientation through your online study abroad account in order to attend scheduled orientations. You can visit the Orientation section of our website to view the current orientation schedule.

Orientation must be completed prior to the enrollment deadline for the quarter that you are studying abroad.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most forms of financial aid can be applied to study abroad. You can verify that your financial aid award will apply to your program costs by contacting the Financial Aid Office. Financial aid or scholarships awarded as tuition waivers or tuition exemptions might not apply so you will need to verify that these funds are eligible for use with study abroad by contacting the funding office.

Financial aid and most scholarships are disbursed according to the UW academic calendar (at the beginning of the quarter). If your program starts before the start of the UW quarter, your financial aid will not be available to you prior to your departure. If your program starts after the first day of the quarter, your financial aid will be disbursed at the start of the program. In either of these cases, you will have to finance any upfront costs such as airfare, health insurance and the start of your time abroad on your own. Please take this into consideration when you are making plans.

Revision Request

In some instances you may qualify for an increase in your financial aid award (typically in loan funds). Check with the Financial Aid Office about your options. To request a revision in your aid, you will need to submit the following paperwork to the Financial Aid Office:

  1. Revision Request Form
  2. Budget of student expenses for your program: The UW Study Abroad Office will upload this budget to your study abroad account after a signed contract has been submitted to the UW Study Abroad Office. You can request an unofficial copy of this budget by emailing

Visit the Finances section of our website to learn more about disbursement, revising your aid package, short-term loans and scholarships.

Application Process

The application includes a Personal Statement, three short answer questions, two recommendations from a professor or TA, and electronic signature documents related to UW policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the on-line application process students may be contacted by the Program Director for an in-person interview. Once an admission decision has been made regarding your application, you will be notified by the study abroad system via email.


UW Study Abroad is not responsible for obtaining visas for study abroad program participants. The cost and requirements for obtaining visas vary. It is your responsibility to determine visa requirements for all countries you plan to visit while abroad including countries that you plan to visit before or after your study abroad program. You can do so by calling the consular offices of those countries or checking the following website:

Note: If you are not a U.S. citizen, consult the embassy or consulate of the countries you will visit to learn their document requirements. You can check the following website to find contact information for the consulate of the country you will be visiting:

For non-U.S. citizens, the procedures that you will need to follow may be different than those for U.S. citizens. It is important to initiate this process as soon as possible in order to assemble documents and allow time for lengthy procedures.

Disability Accommodations

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, and education for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation for this program, contact Disability Resources for Students at least 8 weeks in advance of your departure date. Contact info at


$350 of the total program fee and the $350 UW Study Abroad Fee are non-refundable and non-revocable once a contract has been submitted, even if you withdraw from the program. Students withdrawing from a program are responsible for paying a percentage of the program fee depending on the date of withdrawal. More details about the withdrawal policy are included in your payment contract. No part of the program fee is refundable once the program has begun. The date of withdrawal is considered the date (business day) a withdrawal form is received by the UW Study Abroad Office. Notice of withdrawal from the program must be made in writing by completing the following steps:

1. Provide notice in writing to the Program Director that you will no longer be participating in the program for which you have signed a contract and accepted a slot.

2. Submit a signed withdrawal form to the UW Study Abroad Office, 459 Schmitz Hall.

Visit the Withdrawals section of our website for more information.