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Programs : Brochure

  • Locations: Belize, Belize
  • Program Terms: Spring
  • Restrictions: Furman applicants only
  • Budget Sheets: Spring
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

The application period for this program has not started.
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Faculty-led Language of Instruction: English
Minimum GPA: 2.5 Areas of Study: Biology, Earth and Environmental Studies, Sustainability Science
Faculty Director or Program Advisor: Dennis Haney - Biology, Laura Thompson - Biology Applicable Financial Aid: Federal Aid, Furman Institutional Aid, Furman Merit Based Scholarships, State Aid, Study Away Scholarship, Work Study
Prerequisites: Yes Type of Course Credit: Furman course credit
Credit Hours Per Term: 16 credits Housing: Dormitory/ Residence Hall, Furman on-campus housing, Hotel
Program Features: Research Project
Program Description:

Marine Biology & Ethnobiology of Belize
Spring 2019



OverviewPhoto of student Ethnobiology Class at Clarissa Falls in Belize

This is a field-oriented program that will be taught on campus and in Belize.  For the Marine Biology course we will emphasize the biodiversity, ecology, and physiology of marine organisms, especially as they relate to organism adaptation to the environment. Another focus will be to emphasize human influences on the marine environment.  We’ll spend most days snorkeling along the second-largest Barrier Reef in the world; thus, all students must be comfortable in the water.  In addition to coral reef studies, we’ll also examine other tropical marine communities such as seagrass beds, salt marshes, and mangroves. In Ethnobiology students will study ways, both in the classroom and at a variety of locales on mainland Belize, in which people understand and participate in human-plant-animal-natural interactions.  Students will also learn how people, particularly native Belizeans, acquire traditional biological knowledge and how this knowledge is passed onto new generations.





BIO 423: Marine Biology
Fulfills an elective requirement for Biology majors
GER: NW and NE credit
Instructor(s): Dennis Haney
Prerequisite: Any BIO course and permission of instructor
Travel study course focusing on biodiversity, ecology and physiology of marine organisms, especially as they relate to organismal adaptations to the environment. Includes examination of the influences of humans on the marine environment. 4 credits.

BIO 402: Ethnobiology (Required)Photo of sudents snorkeling at Shark-Ray Alley, Ambergis Cave in Belize
Fulfills an elective requirement for Biology majors
GER: NWL and WC credit
Instructor(s): Laura Thompson
Prerequisite: BIO-101, 102 or 111
Travel study course focusing on the study of interrelations between humans, plants, animals, and their environment. A key component is understanding the past, present, and future importance of biodiversity and of change in these interrelations. 4 credits.

In addition, a suite of thematically related on-campus courses (“companion courses”) will be available to students to allow them to complete their normal 4-course load.  Although these courses will not include a study-away component, they will either be taught on an 11-12-week schedule to allow the students to travel at the end of the term, or the faculty members have all agreed to work with the study away students to allow them to complete course requirements before traveling to Belize.  Spaces remaining in these courses after course selection by study-away students will become available for regular registration.  The additional courses known at this time that will be offered in conjunction with this program are listed below. Additionally, students could sign up for a “Directed Independent Study” or ”Research in…” course in their major department. Because there are so many variants on these types of courses, they are not listed individually below. Other courses may also be used if the faculty members teaching those courses agree to participate. Finally, a student could underload and take only 12 credits in Spring 2019.

BIO 320: Animal PhysiologyPhoto of students taking pictures of monkeys at Howler Monkey Sanctuary in Belize
Fulfills a Core requirement for Biology majors
Can be used by SUS majors to fulfill a major requirement
Instructor(s): TBD
Prerequisite: BIO-222
Comparative and environmental animal physiology. Organ systems studied in invertebrate and vertebrate organisms, with emphasis on physiological adaptation. Laboratory topics include metabolism, respiration, osmoregulation, stress physiology. 4 credits.

BIO 340: Ecology
Fulfills a Core requirement for Biology majors
Can be used by SUS majors to fulfill a major requirement
Garners NWL and NE credit (approved)
Instructor(s): TBD
Prerequisite: BIO-222
The interactions between organisms and their environments, and the consequences of these interactions for population dynamics, community structure, and the flow of energy and matter through ecosystems. Also, consideration of environmental issues and conservation. Laboratories include local field work, experiments, and possibly one or two overnight/weekend field trips. 4 credits.

BIO 401: Applied Plant Science
Fulfills a Core requirement for Biology majors
Can be used by SUS majors to fulfill a major requirement
Instructor(s): Laura Thompson
Prerequisite: BIO-101, 102 or 111
Introduction to plant biology as it pertains to human society. Topics include: life cycles, structure/function relationships, and uses of plants in society. Emphasis on medicinally and economically important plants. Lab exercises reflect the importance of plants as sources of food, fiber, and medicine. 4 credits.

PHL 101: Introduction to Philosophy
Garners UQ credit
Fulfills requirement for PHL majors
Instructor(s): TBD
Introduction to some of the classic problems of philosophy, with emphasis on understanding the nature of philosophical reflection and reasoning. Includes epistemology, ethics, metaphysics and other major branches of philosophy. 4 credits.

PHL 303: Environmental Ethics
Garners NE credit
Fulfills requirement for PHL majors
Instructor(s): Mark Stone
Prerequisite: PHL-101
Examination and evaluation of various approaches to moral problem solving with reference to environmental and ecological issues. Topics include: Animal Liberation, the Land Ethic, Biocentrism or Reverence for Life, Ecofeminism, Deep Ecology, and Environmental Justice. 4 credits.


Program Fee

The cost of participation is equivalent to the cost of tuition, room and board plus a $250 study away fee. Included in the program fee is international airfare, international health insurance, room, board, administrative program fees, and excursions associated with the travel-study course. Please see the Spring Budget Sheet at the top of this page for specifics.

Additional Student Costs

Generally, the fee charged to student’s covers all in-country costs except souvenirs. There may be a maximum of two meals while in-transit that students would be expected to cover out-of-pocket, and they will be informed in advance of this possibility.  There will be textbooks required for the two courses.  An extensive packing list of field gear will be distributed, including items like camera, snorkeling gear, raincoat, clothing, etc.  Many students already have all these items, but some may need to purchase equipment.  The biology department provides binoculars and scientific equipment.

Additional Info

Eligibility Requirements

The course is open to any student with a genuine interest and enthusiasm in the subjects being covered.  The only prerequisite is that the student has completed a Biology course, major or non-major, so the program is accessible to both science and non-science majors. In past years, we have had successful participants, for example, from a wide range of departments including Chemistry, Sociology, Psychology, French, and Art.

Accommodation & Meals

Students will stay in student housing on Furman's campus and rely on Furman's board options for eleven weeks from January until early April. Then, approximately 25 days will be spent in Belize. Thirteen nights will have dormitory-style accommodation (bunk beds) and three meals a day.  The other 12 nights will be at Clarissa Falls Resort, with full board (three meals a day) included.

Health & Safety

Belize has a good medical infrastructure with clinics available even in rural areas.  While on Ambergris Caye we will even have a Registered Nurse on site the entire length of the program. However, we encourage all students to discuss their medical needs with their physician prior to committing to this program.  Students should have up-do-date general vaccinations such as tetanus, though no specific immunizations are required for entry into Belize.  The CDC recommends Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations for most travelers, although our activities will not put students at particular risk of exposure.  Malaria is absent where we travel in Belize, so not an issue. 

This is a field course and there are some unavoidable risks associated with this.  Venomous snakes can be found in the areas we will visit, along with bees, ants, and other stinging insects.  Field work will involve numerous hikes, up to 1-2 miles.  Students should have sufficient fitness to participate in these activities, which are integral to the educational objectives of the course. While on Ambergris Caye students will be snorkeling everyday, thus need to be comfortable in the water and in good enough physical condition to be safe in the water. Students could be exposed to stinging animals here as well, though this is very uncommon. Students will receive extensive safety briefings to allow them to identify these risks and to behave appropriately so as to minimize the danger; however, risk cannot be completely eliminated. Belize in April is extremely hot, so much attention will be paid to proper hydration and protection against sunburn.

All facilities we use can accommodate students with special dietary needs.  Food is varied and excellent though tap water is not safe to drink anywhere in the country. However, all facilities we visit and work with use purified water for cooking and washing fruit and vegetables, and purified drinking water is available everywhere at no cost to the student.

This program is currently not accepting applications.