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  • Locations: Atalaya, Peru; Cocha Cashu, Peru; Cuzco, Peru; Limonal, Peru; Machu Picchu, Peru; Pilcopata, Peru; Puerto Maldonado, Peru; Urubamba, Peru; Wayqecha, Peru
  • Program Terms: Early Fall
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Budget Sheets: Early Fall
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Affiliated Department: Program on the Environment Foreign Language Required: None
Primary Language(s) of Instruction: English UW Credits: 5
Estimated Program Fee: 3920 UW Program Director: Martha Groom, Ursula Valdez
UW Study Abroad Program Manager: Katherine R Kroeger UW Program Staff Email:,
Program Information:

Location Cusco, Peru
Academic Term Early Fall
08/26/2019 - 09/21/2019
Estimated Program Fee $4,370
Credits 5
Prerequisites Prior coursework in ecology and evolution is also a helpful background, but not required. Students will also be asked to write a short essay on what they hope to get out of the course. Their answers will also help us prioritize order of selection. Academic seniority may be a factor in some selection decisions. Language skills are not a selection criteria nor a requirement, but we encourage our selected students to practice or take a basic Spanish course before traveling to Peru.
Program Directors Ursula Valdez |
Martha Grom
Program Manager Katherine Kroeger |
Priority Application Deadline February 15, 2019
Extended Deadline March 10, 2019
Information Sessions Seattle Campus:
Wednesday, February 13, 12 - 2pm, MGH 211B

Bothell Campus:
Thursday, February 7, 1 - 2pm, UW2 Commons
Tuesday, February 12, 11 - 12pm, HH 1600
Tuesday, February 12, 3:30 - 4:30pm, HH 1160A
General Exploration of the great biodiversity of one of the most pristine Amazonian rainforest, and of the use of natural resources in the Andes of Peru
Visas This country is part of the Schengen area. Note that there are strict rules and restrictions for foreign visitors to this area that may impact a student's ability to travel within the region before or after their program, or to attend two subsequent programs in this area. It is critical that the student reviews the information and scenarios here to learn more about Schengen area visa requirements.

Program Description

Our program examines conservation and sustainability issues in a biodiversity hotspot of global importance: southeastern Peru. The first week of our program takes place in the relatively arid highlands surrounding Cusco. 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 look at the impacts of various human activities (road building, gold mining, cattle ranching) on biodiversity, and explore the ethical and philosophical dimensions of those impacts. 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, considers how cultural factors shape environmental attitudes and practices, 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. By spending a week in each of three different locations, we give students exposure to the best available cross section of ecosystems and conservation issues. In the Sacred Valley, the most important agricultural area in southeastern Peru, we visit a current farm and past farms (of the Incas), as well as participate in a dying and weaving project that uses alpaca wool and natural plant and animal based dyes all from the local area. On hikes, we examine these organisms (the sources of wool and dyes) in their environment and look at the impacts (sustainable or not) of local land use practices on the natural ecosystem. By exploring three ecosystems we begin to understand how the Andes create the climate the zones we travel through, and how each ecosystem is linked to the other in the landscape. Our second two weeks are spent immersed in natural history study at 2 field stations-one in a remote wilderness setting, and the other occurring at the interface of wilderness and moderate-to-high impact human land use. These sites are ideal for understanding tropical ecosystems in their natural state and examining first-hand the impact of modern human encroachment. Again, it is only through immersion that one can truly understand the magnitude of what is being lost and the importance (and difficulty) of brokering compromises for conservation and sustainable use. Every field station we visit has a unique community of researchers, actively engaged in the most current tropical research. This is an unparalleled opportunity for students to interact with and hear lectures from the most up-to-date ecological science available on this region. It is also a great way for students to think about possible careers. The fees we pay for room and board at field stations go directly to land conservation efforts of the agency owning the stations. At two of our sites, our students may also have the opportunity to conduct environmental education outreach projects for local elementary school students. These students come from underprivileged backgrounds and their families directly benefit from the use of the natural resources we are studying. They also suffer directly when these resources are depleted. This is an unparalleled opportunity for our students to understand first hand what it is like to live in and depend upon the ecosystems we are studying. The students they teach stand to benefit from gaining a scientific and international perspective on the importance of the ecosystems they live in, as well as encountering positive role models who care about their well-being. Basic well-being is a legitimate concern, for example, in areas where children are forced to live among gold-miners in physically dangerous and toxic conditions, as well as social environments that can be psychologically detrimental to them. In the Sacred Valley we will have many obvious interactions with the local community from the restaurants we use, to a service project conducted at a school we visit, and the project we undertake with the women's weaving cooperative. In all cases, the money we bring in is important for their well-being and survival, and provides means of living that do not directly depend on the unsustainable depletion of biodiversity. Undoubtedly, fostering friendly interaction between our students and Peruvian citizens has positive ramifications for both sides. But, UW students probably benefit the most of all on our course, as we allow them to experience Peruvian culture as a more of a participant than a tourist. As a course, we are especially careful about ensuring that our students portray the best possible public image for UW. We are also extremely conscious about our personal and group resource use. We refuse to buy disposable packaging and always travel with reusable Tupperware, bags, and water bottles for such purposes. We try to minimize the use of fossil-fuel powered electricity and vehicles whenever possible as well. We minimize electricity and water use (for non-essential things like showers and laundry), and try to eat locally grown food. We encourage the avoidance of meat, especially beef that is raised by destroying the rainforest we study. All of these simple actions on the individual level add up to significantly reduced group impact. We calculate these impacts as an exercise during the course. Our calculations can serve as a model for other tourist groups and a personal learning experience for how we might live our own lives beyond the course.




Cusco, Peru


Students and directors stay in biological field stations most of the time in Peru. This is the best 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 camp for a couple of nights while traveling to field stations. Once back in Cusco and during our Sacred Valley -Machupicchu excursion we stay in a comfortable, clean, and reasonably priced hotels that are conveniently located for accessing supplies and travel to other course sites. Payment can be done via transfer both in the USA and Peru and in some case via Credit card in the US, which can be done in advance



Prerequisites and Language Requirements

Prior coursework in ecology and evolution is also a helpful background, but not required. Students will also be asked to write a short essay on what they hope to get out of the course. Their answers will also help us prioritize order of selection. Academic seniority may be a factor in some selection decisions. Language skills are not a selection criteria nor a requirement, but we encourage our selected students to practice or take a basic Spanish course before traveling to Peru. Willingness to deal with harsh field conditions is highly recommended (hot/cold days, mosquitoes, long days) and at least some basic experience and good attitude for outdoor work. While we don't do any serious or technical trekking, we do spend long days in the field, and with long walks in some cases. Being in good physical shape would contribute enduring long days in the field. We expect that students are willing to do some basic outdoor walking training on their own during the summer prior to this trip.


5 UW Quarter Credits


BIS 480 Study AbroadENVIR 496, HONORS 223, BIOL 493 ): From Andes to Amazon: Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability in Peru" (5 credits) NW, I&S, VLPA, 

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 have the opportunity to develop skills in 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. Finally, students will engage in reflective writing as a way to navigate the emotional challenges often inherent in learning about difficult environmental issues.

Learning goals include:
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.Learn and apply basic principles and concepts in environmental ethics









Ursula Valdez

Martha Groom
IAS UWB Professor, Doris Duke Program UW, Biology UW





Program Expenses

Estimated Program Fee: $4,370

Included in the program fee:

  • $450 Study Abroad Fee
  • Instruction
  • Housing
  • Program activities and program travel
Not included in the program fee:
  • Airfare (average price subject to when and where your buy your ticket - $1,200)
  • Food (about all meals are included in the program fee)
  • UW Student Abroad Insurance ($1.64/day)
  • Other health expenses/immunizations
  • Personal spending money

Payment Due Date: October 11, 2019

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.

Financial Aid

  • A large percentage of UW students utilize financial aid to study abroad. Most types of financial aid can be applied to study abroad fees.
  • You can submit a revision request to increase the amount of aid for the quarter you are studying abroad. These additional funds are usually awarded in the form of loans. To apply, fill out a revision request form, attach the budget sheet (available via the link at the top of this brochure) and submit these documents to the Office of Student Financial Aid.  For more information about this process, consult the Financial Aid section of our website.
  • Consult the Financial Aid section of our website for more information on applying for financial aid, special considerations for summer and early fall programs, and budgeting and fundraising tips.


  • There are many scholarships designed to fund students studying abroad. The UW Study Abroad administers a study abroad scholarship program and there are national awards available as well.
  • Scholarships vary widely in their parameters. Some are need-based, some are location-based, and some are merit-based.
  • To be considered for a UW Study Abroad Scholarship fill out a short questionnaire on your UW Study Abroad program application.  You must apply by the priority application deadline for the program in order to be considered for a scholarship.  Click the Overview tab to view application deadlines.
  • Consult our Scholarships page to learn about UW-based and national scholarships. The Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards can help you learn about additional opportunities.

Budgeting Tools

We understand that figuring out your finances for study abroad can be complicated and we are here to help. Below are some ways to find additional support.

  • Click on the Budget Sheets link at the top of this brochure to view the estimated budget of all expenses for this program.
  • Contact the Global Opportunities Adviser at to learn more about how to pay for study abroad.
  • Attend a Financial Planning Workshop offered by UW Study Abroad – more information is on the Events page of our website.
  • Visit the Finances section of our website.



Application Process

The study abroad application includes a personal statement, three short answer questions, one recommendation from a professor or TA, and electronic signature documents related to UW policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the online application process, you 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.


To be eligible to study abroad, you must complete the mandatory pre-departure online orientation provided by UW Study Abroad. You must also attend program-specific orientations offered by the program director.

You will be able to access the online orientation through your study abroad application once you have been accepted to a program. Orientation must be completed prior to the enrollment deadline for the quarter that you are studying abroad.


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. This is an especially important consideration if you are planning to do more than one study abroad program. You can research visa requirements 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 $450 UW Study Abroad Fee are non-refundable once you have submitted a contract. 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 will be 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 business day a withdrawal application is received by UW Study Abroad. 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.
  2. Submit a withdrawal application to UW Study Abroad.