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Center for Applied Anthropology

Ethnographic Field School in Belize

The Center for Applied Anthropology (CfAA) at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) organizes an annual ethnographic field school in Belize directed by Douglas Hume (Professor of Anthropology) every summer in collaboration with the NKU International Education Center - Office of Education Abroad and Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA).

The following information is for the 2024 Ethnographic Field School in Belize:

  • Base Program Price: $3,599 - $3,799* - (price will be determined by application deadline - the earlier you apply, the lower the costs - includes ground transportation, accommodations, breakfast, dinner, and excursions – lunches and personal expenses are only other costs of participation)
  • Group Travel Price: $850 - $1,050 - (estimated price roundtrip air transportation)
  • Tuition: Waived! Optional transfer credit to another institution, $100.00 transcript fee (check with your institutional transfer fees, if any).
  • Early Application Deadline: extended to February 18, 2024 ($100 reduction in program price/application fee) Space is limited, it is best to apply well ahead of the deadline!
  • Final Application Deadline: March 1, 2024 (application fee of $250)
  • Online Orientation Meeting: 4-6 PM May 6, 2024
  • Online Ethnographic Boot Camp: June 3-9, 2024
  • Ethnographic Fieldwork in Orange Walk District, Belize: June 10-July 2, 2024
  • Final Written Assignments Due: July 7, 2024
  • Credit: 4 hours (undergraduate or graduate)
  • Sample Syllabus: Syllabus Draft
  • Sample Schedule: Schedule Draft
  • Sample Packing List: Packing List Draft
  • Cooperative Center for Study Abroad: Course Site, Online Application, and Scholarships

If you wish to be notified of deadlines and other information about this program, please join the Ethnographic Field School in Belize's:


Course Description

Click for more photographs taken during prior field schools!

This course immerses students in Belizean culture and trains them in contemporary anthropological field methods. Students will gain valuable research skills (e.g., ethnographic interviewing and qualitative data analysis) to apply anthropology in their future careers (e.g., applied anthropology or other social/behavioral discipline), an appreciation for Belizean cultural diversity, and further their personal growth. While in Belize, students will be primarily engaged in guided applied ethnographic fieldwork. Students will learn about the local culture by doing participant-observation and conducting ethnographic interviews in a community-based research project. Students will learn research ethics, unobtrusive observation, participant observation, field note writing and coding, ethnographic and life history interviewing, ethnolinguistic data collection, community mapping, rapid assessment procedures, qualitative data analysis, and other ethnographic methods in addition to basic ethnographic writing. After successful completion of this course, students will have:

  • developed a basic understanding of Belizean culture,
  • formulated an understanding of ethical and validity issues in ethnographic research,
  • practiced skills in research design and ethnographic methods of data collection,
  • applied basic ethnographic research methods in a non-western culture,
  • engaged in a community-based research project, and
  • analyzed ethnographic data resulting in an ethnographic monograph.
Click for more photographs taken during prior field schools!

This program will contribute to the education of students by training them in ethnographic methods and by exposing them to a non-western culture. Students are expected to gain skills that may be used in applying anthropology or other socio-behavioral sciences in their future careers, gain an appreciation for cultural diversity, and further their personal growth. Field experiences such as this project can also improve the likelihood that students will be admitted to graduate school.

This course is being taught as a 300 (upper-undergraduate) and 500 (graduate) level course in anthropology with a maximum of 12 students. Students will earn three credit hours for participation in the ethnographic field school.  This course will not fulfill NKU’s general education requirements, but may be applied to NKU’s anthropology major or minor requirements. Students should check with their own institution for what, if any, requirements this course fulfills.

Each spring, students will be encouraged to present our findings in a scholarly panel at the Society for Applied Anthropology/Society for Anthropological Sciences joint annual meetings as well as the Anthropologists and Sociologists of Kentucky annual meetings. NKU students will be encouraged to present their findings at NKU's spring Celebration of Student Research and Creativity. Students who wish to learn additional ethnographic analysis methods or prepare a short ethnography for publication may arrange independent studies with the director, Douglas Hume.

Community-based Research Project

Click for more photographs taken during prior field schools!

The ethnographic field school, as part of the CfAA, is partnering with Belizean institutes and associations in order to contribute to an understanding of household economy and agricultural knowledge of sugar cane farmers in Orange Walk District village communities. Our current research includes the following topics:

  • Community development (e.g., issues related to child labor and education),
  • Community health (e.g., access to healthcare and treatment of illnesses), and
  • Traditional ecological knowledge (e.g., folk medicine and farming knowledge).

Our community partners will use our results and recommendations to develop and conduct workshops for farmers on agricultural techniques, economics, health, and other community development topics. Currently, our community partners include the:

Program Excursions

In addition to conducting community-based research, we plan to visit the Belize Zoo, Banquitas House of Culture, Cuello's Distillery and Ruins, Lamanai Maya Ruins (via boat on the New River), Nohoch Che'en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve (Cave Tubing), and the Tower Hill (Sugar Cane) Factory. Locations are subject to change and may be cancelled due to weather or other factors beyond our control.


Click for more photographs taken during prior field schools!

The price above includes round-trip transportation from designated cities, airport transfers, accommodations, daily breakfast and dinner, program excursions, and health insurance. Tuition is waived, there is only a $100 transcript fee, but please contact your institution to determine if there are any fees to transfer the course credit.

A minimum of $200.00 should be budgeted for beverages, lunches, and snacks beyond the daily breakfasts and dinners included in the program price. Additionally, approximately $100.00 should be budgeted for required course materials. Participants should also budget additional funds for personal expenses such as souvenirs, based upon their individual spending habits.

All prices are subject to change in the event of unanticipated increases in airfares, monetary exchange rates or other changes in program costs.

Students are required to bring a laptop computer with them that is WiFi capable.

More Information

For more information about the ethnographic field school in Belize see the links below.