We are pleased to announce that applications for this summer's ethnographic field school, Conservation and Indigenous Peoples, are now open. Program topics include: anthropology, ethnographic methods, tropical ecology, environmental conservation, and sustainable development. The course is interdisciplinary, and topics can be tailored to participating undergraduate and graduate student’s area(s) of interest.


About the course:

This six-credit course to the Amazon basin of Brazil is a rare opportunity to learn and work with Indigenous Amazonian peoples, anthropologists, and tropical forest ecologists in an immersive field experience in conservation, indigenous rights, and development. The program is a collaboration between the University of Maryland and the Kayapó, an indigenous group known for their vigilance in protecting their territory -- a vast expanse of rainforest along the "arc of deforestation" in the southeastern Amazon. The Kayapó have effectively protected their lands through collaboration, political prowess, and technological advances since 1989, when they earned worldwide recognition for their precedent-setting victory in halting a large hydroelectric project that would have inundated their lands. Today, the Kayapó supplement their own monitoring of their territory with overflights and Landsat imaging made possible through their partnership with environmental NGOs. In this course, students will be introduced to the network of local, national and international NGO, local communities, and individuals that are engaged in that effort.  


Course units:

Unit 1- Ethnographic and Interdisciplinary Methods + Service Learning

Unit 2- Indigenous Livelihoods and Conservation

Unit 3- Indigenous Knowledge Systems

Unit 4- Development and Change



Course activities take place in two locations, A’Ukre village and the Pinkaiti Research Station. In A’Ukre, Kayapo instructors guide students through many of the activities of daily life. Students learn about agricultural practices, fishing, filmmaking, beadwork, sports, community celebrations, education, and healthcare. At Pinkaiti, students learn about animal-plant interactions, Brazil nut ecology and sustainable development projects, the history and impact of mahogany logging and the impacts of large-scale hydroelectric infrastructure projects.


As a result of the relationships with A’Ukre and AFP, the UMD program is currently one of the only ways to enter the Kayapo Indigenous Territories. In building this course, the University of Maryland has initiated a Consortium that now includes the University of Maryland; the Kayapó NGO, Protected Forest Association (Associação Floresta Protegida); International Conservation Fund of Canada; the Universidade Nacional de Brasília; Universidade Federal do Para; and Kayapó communities.


Spaces are limited so start your application as quickly as possible. Questions for course personnel may be directed to Emily Colón: ecolon [at] umd [dot] edu

2019 Brazil Poster


2019 Brazil Field School