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Sustainable Development Field School in Guatemala

Sustainable Development Field School in Guatemala
The field school is designed to introduce students to the social and cultural challenges of development among impoverished non-Western populations while implementing micro-projects.
Jocotán, Guatemala
Language of Instruction: 
Academic Disciplines: 
Latin American Studies
-Open to All Majors
Graduate Courses
Program Type: 
Fulfills KU Core 4.2
Faculty Led
  • Engage in development projects with the Ch'orti Maya, a historically marginalized group
  • Earn 3 credit hours in Anthropology or Latin American studies
  • Spanish language proficiency encouraged, but not required
Program Summary: 

Next program offering TBA.

The field school is designed to introduce students to the social and cultural challenges of development among impoverished non-Western populations while implementing micro-projects. Students will learn in depth about a historically oppressed and marginal population, the Ch’orti’ Maya, and will take part in team projects to enhance Ch’ortis’ quality of life. The program will begin in El Salvador and then travel to Guatemala and Honduras. Students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply. 


Guatemala is a land of contrasts. It has some of the friendliest people imaginable, but for 36 years fought a brutal civil war with strong ethnic antagonism between people of Spanish heritage and indigenous Mayas. It has high mountain chains and volcanoes with cold climates, but also steamy Pacific and Caribbean coasts and jungles. The most modern amenities can be found, but so can also millions of people living off the land. Such contrasts are present in Ch’orti’ Maya region of eastern Guatemala and western Honduras, which archeologists regard as a cradle of ancient Mayan civilization. 

The group will begin the program in El Salvador and visit the El Manzano Ecolodge before traveling to Guatemala and Honduras to conduct a two-day cultural fair in partnership with the Ch'orti' Maya.  Students will also have the opportunity to visit and discuss other development projects with local officials, university faculty members, and students.

Academic Information: 

The course will meet for four required orientation sessions on the Lawrence campus before the study abroad program. The orientation sessions will focus on the history and current state of the Ch’orti’ Maya in Guatemala as well as team training and planning for projects. While abroad, students will focus on carrying out their group projects as well as explore other developmental projects.

Students on this program will receive three credit hours and will enroll in either ANTH 587 or LAA 587 Multidisciplinary Field School in Partnership with the Ch’orti’ Maya during the Summer 2018 term. Credit is granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the course and overseas program.


Students will stay in hotels, and possibly cabins and tents, and rooms will be shared.

Life Abroad: 

Students will examine and help address the community ecotourism needs at El Manzano Ecolodge in El Salvador. The group will hold cultural fairs to make the Ch’orti’ history, folklore, music, grassroots agricultural knowledge, language, medicinal and culinary recipes, and development projects accessible to both Chorti’s and non-Ch’orti’s in Guatemala and Honduras. Additionally, the group will visit developmental organizations in the region. 


Open to undergraduate or graduate students from accredited U.S. colleges or universities. Minimum 2.5 GPA. 

Program Faculty: 

Brent Metz, Associate Professor of Anthropology, is the program director. He has been traveling to Guatemala and working with the Ch'orti' Maya for more than 25 years. 


Summer 2021 programs now accepting applications !

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