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Skidmore College
Off-Campus Study & Exchanges

Rainforest to Reef: Sustainable Development in Belize

Course Description

The Sustainable Development in Belize travel seminar is an immersive 11-day environmental field study.
Organized around the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, the seminar will examine national
challenges, pathways, and progress toward sustainable and inclusive growth in Belize. After being introduced to environmental governance in Belize, through a review of major policies, plans, and structures, the seminar will explore key sustainable development projects, programs, and strategies. Primary themes of study include land, ocean, and wildlife conservation, food systems and agroecology, climate and energy, ecotourism and
sustainable livelihoods, public health, and education.

Collaborative and experiential learning opportunities will include field visits, guided tours, expert driven lectures,and community and cultural experiences. The seminar will take place in two locales - the rainforest ofBarton Creek in Belize western Belize and on a small island next to the Belize Barrier Reef. Activities will include a visit to the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center, a guided tour of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, an eco-cultural tour of the Xunantunich Mayan archaeological site, a cultural heritage and cooking experience with a rural Women’s Cooperative, a smart solar off-grid project tour, and a classroom visit to a Primary School. Pre-readings, short assignments, and debriefs and discussions will be used to complement lectures from key Belizean entities, such as the Forestry Department, Ministry of Sustainable Development, and Marine Reserves. Active excursions will explore the beauty and ecology of Belize’s landscapes through ecological tours, mountain riverwading, cave canoeing, and reef snorkeling.

Learning Objectives

  • Appreciate and understand Belize’s history, culture, people, and structures of power.
  • Recognize the complexity and interrelationships in all types of environmental and social issuesCC
    and understand the importance of using an interdisciplinary perspective for studying and
    addressing these issues.
  • Examine and experience major sustainable development issues, projects, and strategies in Belize,
    utilizing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and related themes.
  • Interrogate personal values and responsibilities in relation to environmental and social problems
    and contemplate the individual and collective action needed to create sustainability solutions.

Tentative Itinerary/Themes*

Pre-Trip/December 2024 - Course Introduction and Pre-Departure Orientation

Thursday, January 2 - Arrival in NYC, hotel overnight for early morning departure

Friday, January 3 - Travel day and Life on Land: biodiversity and ecosystems, conservation

  • Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center

Saturday, January 4 - Zero Hunger: food systems and security, sustainable agriculture

  • Downtown San Ignacio and the Market
    San Ignacio Market

    Photo provided by Tarah Rowse

Sunday, January 5 - Life on Land: forestry management, conservation

  • Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve

Monday, January 6 - Decent Work and Economic Growth: sustainable tourism

  • Maya Organic Farm and Xunantunich Mayan Site 

Tuesday, January 7 - Gender Equality, Quality Education: sustainable livelihoods

  • Green HIlls Butterfly Ranch, San Antonio Women's Cooperative, Cristo Rey Primary School

Wednesday, January 8 - Affordable and Clean Energy, Clean Water and Sanitation

  • La Gracia Community Solar Project, Duck Run Water System

Thursday, January 9 - Life on Land: sustainable tourism

  • Barton Creek Cave, Belize Raptor Center

Friday, January 10 - Affordable and Clean Energy: climate action, strong institutions

  • Ministry of Sustainable Development

Saturday, January 11 - Life Below Water: marine protection, coastal climate change, fisheries, ocean pollution

  • Hol Chan Marine Reserve

Sunday, January 12 - Student presentations and course conclusions

Monday, January 13 - Travel day - please note that a hotel will be provided to students upon a late night arrival in NYC and students can depart for their homes on the morning of January 14. 

*final itinerary is subject to change based on availability and travel schedule


Dates: January 2 - 14, 2024 (inclusive of travel days)

Pre-requisites/Co-requisite: none

Credits: 1 credit for TX200A

Program Fee: The anticipated fee is between $3,700 - $3,900 (depending on enrollment). The program fee includes Skidmore tuition, round-trip airfare between New York City/Newark and Belize City, Belize; ground transportation for program excursions; on-site accommodations in shared rooms; some group meals and a meal stipend; international medical insurance; entrance and activity fees; local resource faculty and Skidmore faculty. Financial aid is available for eligible students. 

Meals and Accommodation: The program fee includes program housing in shared accommodations. More specific information about meals and housing will be communicated to students during pre-departure. 

Flights: Roundtrip airfare from New York City or Newark to Belize City, Belize is included in the program fee. Exact flights will be booked once enrollment is confirmed. Students are responsible for getting themselves to/from the airport at the start and end of the program. 

Application Process: The deadline for applications is September 15, 2024. Students are required to APPLY for Travel Seminars through the MyOCSE portal.  Applications will be reviewed and students will be notified of acceptances before spring 2025 course registration. 


Stop by the OCSE office (Starbuck 202) or contact Tarah Rowse, Director of Sustainability, directly.