This course exposes students to the history and experience of contemporary Mayan society in the state of Yucatán and includes daily excursions to archeological sites, local museums, ecological reserves, colonial neighborhoods, and several other areas.
This program was developed in collaboration with the Universidad Marista de Mérida.
I would definitely recommend this trip, this trip! Merida was so full of life, color, and rich history. I loved all of the amazing sites we got to experience, and the Marista students, tour guides, Fernando, and host families made it truly memorable. - 2022 participant
This trip gave students the opportunity to see many historical and interesting places while giving students the ability to make connections with host families and students at the University of Marista. The sites were beautiful and I would love to swim in a cenote or at Progreso beach again. It was fascinating to read about the places we visited because the Mayan and colonial history of the area is rich. - 2022 participant
I absolutely loved studying abroad in Mérida. Our instructor was knowledgeable and the guest lectures contributed to our knowledge. We loved our host families, and getting to be immersed in a new culture was the experience of a lifetime. - 2022 participant
Fernando Calderón, Associate Professor
Campus Address: SRL 319
Dr. Calderon has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and Latin America and, as a student, studied abroad for a semester in Ecuador. A native Spanish speaker, Dr. Calderon is looking forward to leading UNI students on this program and exploring the history, anthropology and cultural heritage of the Yucatán!
Alexa Sedlacek, Associate Professor
Department: Earth & Environmental Sciences
Campus Address: LAT 122
Dr. Sedlacek is a geologist and paleoclimatologist by training, who enjoys taking student groups on field experiences. Her research has taken her to The Bahamas, New Zealand, the desert southwest, the high desert of Utah and Nevada, and the Appalachians Mountains.
UNIV 3003: Study Abroad-Human Condition-Global: Indigenous People’s Rights to Self-Determination in Modern Mexico (3 credit hours)
This is a UNIFI: Human Condition Global category course. It can also count as a general education UNIFI elective credit under the category of Connect.
Since the Spanish conquest, indigenous societies throughout Mexico have faced exploitation, racism, discrimination, forced displacement, and repression at the hands of “democratic” governments, landowners, unfettered capitalism, and the forces of globalization. Yet, their “indigenousness” is repeatedly exploited for political and capitalistic ends by the same state responsible for their marginalization and precarious conditions.
The purpose of this course is twofold: to grasp a more nuanced understanding of Mayan history and how contemporary communities are pushing back against injustices and settler colonialism, and fighting for their right to self-determination. Think of this course as a people’s history of Merida and the Yucatán in which everyone, regardless of status, class, race, ethnicity, or gender, has played a vital role in nation-state building and the preservation of Mayan culture. Moreover, this course aims to get students to think critically, engage in the readings, ask questions, and challenge students to interrogate dominant narratives. In the first half of the course, students will learn about Mayan history, culture, and society by visiting archeological sites, museums, and attending lectures by local experts. Students will also learn about the interconnection between the surrounding environment and the rise and demise of civilizations. Special attention will be placed on how the Maya overcame limited water supply, developed natural resources, and how the changing environment impacted life. In the second half, students will learn about initiatives spearheaded by Mayan descendants, human rights groups, ecotourism, and community organizers to raise awareness about various indigenous issues, protect sacred land, preserve Pre-Columbian languages, and other relevant endeavors.
Participation in this program requires several class meetings throughout the spring semester, although the course is scheduled as a summer course. The Study Abroad Center will enroll participants in their study abroad course. Please contact the program's course leader for more information on academic requirements.
- 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.
Tentative Program Dates: Monday, May 15 (depart) - Saturday, May 27 (return), 2023
Day 1: Arrive to Mérida, Mexico
Day 2: Meet with local students at the Universidad Marista de Mérida, classes on "survival" Spanish and Mayan culture, followed by a city tour of Mérida
Day 3: Guest lecture by Dr. Andrea Cucina; visit to Gran Museo del Mundo Maya
Day 4: Travel to Chichén Itzá, a complex of Mayan ruins and home to the step pyramid El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan
Day 5: Mayan Culture class, then travel to the city of Valladolid, a vibrant city showcasing colonial-era buildings, as well as a cenote, which is an opening to an underground river that the Mayans thought was an entrance to the underworld. Many stunning cenotes can be found across the Yucatán.
Day 6: Trip to Río Lagartos, a coastal area on the Gulf of Mexico known for its uniquely colored waters and flamingos
Day 7: Free day
Day 8: Trip to the ancient Maya city of Uxmal followed a tour of Museo del Chocolate
Day 9: Classes on Spanish and Mayan culture; trip to Sotuta de Peón to experience how haciendas worked and learn the process of transforming the plant called henequén from the plant to the fiber, then to the finished product (rope)
Day 10: Trip to the city of Izamal. Visit to the Cultural and Artisan Center of Izamal and other sites in town.
Day 11: Mayan Culture class, then visit Progreso beach
Day 12: Final day for reflection and discovery; farewell party with local students
Day 13: Departure
Important information to review:
Review the roles of the Advisee and the Advisor under the main menu Get Started
Entry and Exit Requirements:
- Review and follow the travel recommendations of the CDC for International Travel
- Monitor appropriate websites for updates and information about COVID or other emergencies before departing and while in the destination country. The U.S. Embassy for Mexico provides updates that can be found on their website
Housing & Meals
Students will stay in host families. Two meals per day are built into the cost of the program. Remaining meals will be paid for by students out-of-pocket while abroad. Students are encouraged to try the local foods!
Faculty-led Program in Mexico
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
Cost of studying on-campus*
*per semester, estimated, will vary per person
Tuition & Fees:
Room & Board:
Dates & Deadlines
Eligibility Requirements to Study Abroad
The Study Abroad Center reserves the right to determine participants' eligibility to Study Abroad. Students must have a completed study abroad application, including supportive recommendation form(s). Additionally, 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 cumulative GPA prior to departure and throughout the study abroad process
- If your cumulative GPA is lower than 2.5, submit the following to the Study Abroad Center (103 East Bartlett):
- Letters of reference from two academic contacts (e.g. academic advisor and former or current professor) supporting your pursuit of study abroad. If you are attending a faculty-led study abroad program, one of the letters must be from a course leader. However, if the program has two course leaders, only one of the letters can be from one of the course leaders.
- 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.