• Barge traveling up the Panama Canal

    Capstone in Panama

  • Hills with coffee plants at sunset

    Capstone in Panama

  • Course Leader, Chris Schrage, overlooking a section of the canal

    Capstone in Panama

  • Large crane structure at the canal for lifting materials

    Capstone in Panama


Spots still available on the summer 2019 program! Application deadline February 15th, 2019. 

On this program, students will have the exciting opportunity to visit the Panama Canal, an isolated indigenous community, hike through rainforest, learn from coffee and papaya growers, bathe in geothermal pools, and much more! 

Panama is emerging as a leader in business and trade and is one of the newest free trade partners to the United States. In this context, students will gain experience in trade and supply chain in a totally different environment than Iowa and the United States. At the same time, students will learn about rich traditions, cultures, and indigenous peoples in order to better understand the relationship between culture and business. All majors are welcome, and College of Business Administration majors will find the experience particularly enriching. 

To learn more about this program, attend an upcoming program information session! 

  • Thursday, January 17, 3 - 4 pm in CBB 7
  • Monday, January 28,  1 - 2 pm in CBB 7  
  • Tuesday, January 29,  9 - 10 am in CBB 7


Course Leaders

Chris Schrage, Instructor

Department: Marketing
Phone: 319-273-2126
Email: christine.schrage@uni.edu
Campus Address: CBB 5

Chris has traveled extensively with students, including trips to Ghana, China, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Chris has taught at the program's partner university in Colombia twice and conducted research in Panama since 2006.  Chis is excited to share the unique experiences this program offers with students! 


CAP 3154: Global Skills (3 credits)

To view the course syllabus, click HERE. Note, this is a draft syllabus. Course objectives include the following: 

  • Learn about working in Emerging Markets
  • Understand the importance of the Panama Canal to commerce
  • Assess opportunities with new trade pact partners
  • Adjust to cultural nuances in doing business
  • View unique global value chain situations

Several orientation sessions will be held during the spring semester of 2019. Sessions are tentatively scheduled for 3 - 5 pm on March 1, March 29, April 19, and May 3 as well as 9 am - 12 pm on May 10. Please contact the program's course leader for more information.


  • In order to receive Capstone credit, program participants must have completed 60 credits hours prior to the program's course start date (i.e. be of Junior standing). Students who participate in capstone programs without meeting the credit hour prerequisite will receive elective credit. In this instance, students should consult with their academic advisor(s) regarding how the elective credit fits into their specific plans of study. 
  • Students planning to participate in the spring commencement ceremony in May can enroll in this summer term program, however, their degree will not be conferred until the end of the summer term and is contingent on the successful completion of the program and all required coursework.
  • Students attending colleges and universities other than UNI are welcome to participate in this program. If you are not currently a UNI student, but would like to participate in this program, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.
  • Capstone courses cannot be repeated. If you have previously taken the program's capstone course, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.


Tentative Program Dates: Monday, May 13 to Saturday, May 25, 2019

Sample itinerary is subject to change.

Day 1: Arrive in Panama City

Day 2: Half day old city and canal tour, including the Miraflores Locks

Our day will start at the Presidential Palace, located at the Casco Viejo, the colonial side. The seat of executive power of the Republic of Panama. Inside is the office of the president and his official residence. We will visit the Causeway, a leisure paradise with shopping, restaurants and bars that offers spectacular views of the modern city and its skyscrapers. In contrast, Casco Viejo, the oldest sector of the modern Panama City founded in 1673, has a charming mixture of colonial architecture, cobblestone streets and ethnic diversity. UNESCO has named this area “World Heritage Site.” It contains a wealth of history in its churches, museums and streets carefully restored to their former colonial beauty. Before returning there will also be an opportunity to visit a local handicraft market, where an array of native art and craft is on offer. We will also tour the Panama Canal area, including the town of Balboa, Ancon Hill, formerly part of the Panama Canal Zone. 

Day 3: Visit with the Embera Puru Tribe

This journey takes us deep into the dense jungles of Chagres by dugout canoes, where the Embera Indians have lived for centuries. We will experience Embera cultural dances and music as well as explore the surrounding area, full of birds, wildlife, and waterfalls. During our visit, the Emberas will give you a glimpse into their rituals and amazing knowledge of medicinal plants and other natural remedies. The Embera women are known as one of the world's finest basket makers, and we will be able to watch them create these beautiful objects made out of palm leaves and dyed with natural dyes. You can also have your body painted with the natural fruit dye called Jagua, used by the IEmberas for body decorations as well as for its health-giving properties. Enjoy a traditional meal of fresh fish and plantains (included in the program cost).

Day 4: Corozal Canal Zone, Manzanillo International Terminal, port, and Gatun Locks control tower

Today, we will cross the Isthmus on the historic Panama Canal Railway, the world's first transcontinental railway, built in 1855 for California 49ers traveling west on their quest for fortune during the Gold Rush. The scenic route now travels along the Panama Canal and its historic Canal Zone towns, plus through miles of lush rain forest. The trip takes about 50 minutes as we comfortably ride in observation cars. In Colon, we will transfer to the Gatun Locks Control Tower and Manzanillo International Terminal. 

Day 5: Visit Maersk Offices

Maersk is the largest container ship and supply vessel operator in the world.

Day 6: Partial transit on the Panama Canal by boat

As the boat travels through the last set of locks, it will be lowered 18 meters before entering the Pacific Ocean. 

Day 7: Day trip to El Valle

This picturesque town sits in the crater of one of the world's largest extinct volcanoes and is well-known for its weekend market where the local Indians sell their handcrafts, flowers and vegetables. Beautiful scenery and walking trails abound in town and throughout the valley. We will visit a papaya farm as well as the homes of local craftsmen, where you can see them working in preparation for the weekend market. You will also be able to purchase their work. 

Day 8: Panama Canal administration building and Cocoli Locks

Day 9: Aerial tram tour of Gamboa rain forest and observe wildlife around Gatun Lake

On this journey, we will ascend 280 feet over half a mile stretch.  Upon our arrival at the top of a hill, we will then walk two minutes on a trail to the observation tower and from there have great views of the Panama Canal, the Chagres River and surrounding forested areas of Soberania National Park and Gamboa`s Town. We will also visit:

  • Orchid nursery of local orchids
  • Reptile exhibit, where you will also receive interesting information about how to recognize poisonous snakes, what they eat and some of their habits 
  • Butterfly exhibit, where a butterfly expert will explain to you anything you might want to know
  • Aquarium with fresh water fish from the tropical areas of America, Africa and Asia as well as reptiles such as crocodiles, caimans and turtles

In the afternoon, we will travel up Panama Canal by boat, possibly passing some of the big ships that transit the canal daily. Once we reach Gatun lake, we will look for wildlife such as Capuchin Monkeys, 3-toed Sloth, Howler Monkeys, various kinds of Toucans and other birdlife. This is a unique place to observe the raw regenerative power of the forest as it struggles to claim what was once wild. 

Day 10: Free day for shopping in Panama City

Day 11: Travel to the highlands of Panama

Day 12:  Coffee tour

Learn the history, chemistry, physics, geography, and industry of coffee. We will learn about the harvest, drying process, classification, fermentation, pealing process, roasting and tasting!! Help us roast your own sample!

Day 13: Caldera hot springs

Visit three hot springs with different temperatures (30°C, 34°C, 39°C). Each spring is heated geothermally with heat produced deep in the Earth's mantle. 

Day 14: Depart for home

Housing & Meals

Students will stay in hotel or hostel-style rooms arranged by the Study Abroad Center and paid for before departure.  No meals abroad are included in the program cost. Students are encouraged to try the local foods.

Program Costs

Capstone in Panama

Estimated Program Cost:


* estimated total cost of participation, actual amount depends on type of housing accommodation selected, actual airfare purchase price, personal spending habits, and other factors

Click Below to View Detailed Budget Sheet:

Cost of studying on-campus*

*per semester, estimated, will vary per person

Tuition & Fees:


Room & Board:




Personal Expenses:






Source: https://admissions.uni.edu/costs

Dates & Deadlines


App Deadline: 
Friday, February 15, 2019
Program Dates: 
Monday, May 13, 2019 to Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Study Abroad Center reserves the right to determine participants' eligibility to Study Abroad. Students must meet all of the following in order to be eligible to Study Abroad:

  • Have a cumulative 2.5 GPA or higher at the time of application and maintain this GPA prior to departure and throughout the study abroad process
    • If your cumulative GPA is between 2.40 to 2.49, submit the following to the Study Abroad Center (28 Gilchrist):
      • A letter of reference from your academic advisor supporting your pursuit of study abroad
      • An essay, which should explain why your cumulative GPA is below a 2.50, include how your cumulative GPA is stable or improving, a detailed plan for improving your academic performance a strong academic and/or personal interest in your study abroad location and/or course, and a compelling academic rationale for studying abroad.
  • Must be over the age of 18 years old
  • Must meet the course prerequisites (participation in the program is dependent upon meeting these)
  • Must be in good standing with the University
  • UNI's partner institutions may require additional eligibility requirements to be met, these vary from institution to institution. Please consult with the Study Abroad Center staff to discuss these additional requirements if applicable.
  • Applicants traveling to a region of a country or a country with an overall Travel Advisory Level 3 (Reconsider Travel) or 4 (Do Not Travel) will not be eligible.
  • All study abroad applicants must pass the Study Abroad Applicant Assessment with a score of 70% or greater.
  • Applicants may be selected for an in-person interview before being accepted. Selection for an interview does not guarantee acceptance into the program. You will be contacted directly by the Study Abroad Center if selected for an interview.