Virtual field school connects students with villagers in Ecuador: Register now for special spring/summer course

A virtual field school provides students with the unique opportunity to get experiences unavailable in a traditional classroom, without the logistical challenges and cost of physical travel. Students looking to increase their global experiences and expand their international portfolio can take advantage of a fresh spring/summer offering by enrolling in the Ecuador Virtual Ethnographic Field School course offered through the Department of Anthropology.

Spring/summer is the perfect time to pick up a few extra credits to get one step closer to graduation, take a course outside of your major or a challenging class that requires all your focus. Plus, undergrads who are on track to complete 24 credits between Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 may be eligible for the 30% Tuition Break program.

During the Ecuador field school, students will use communication technologies to participate in anthropological research in a village in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, San Vicente de Bolívar. Research will focus on economic and environmental challenges faced by local farmers, in a context of globalization, poverty, and climate change.

“The field school was piloted last fall as one component of a course on Latin America,” says Anthropology Associate Professor Barry Lyons. “In the spring, it will be its own standalone course, allowing for a more intensive, immersive international experience. In addition to visits with villagers over Zoom during class hours, students will connect with villagers over WhatsApp outside of class. 

“There’s a lot you can learn from lectures, but this is real world learning,” says Lyons. “This isn’t just learning about anthropology or learning about environmental issues or Latin America. This is learning with people in Latin America who experience those issues. It’s much more hands-on, active learning. Students are learning for themselves through sharing experiences and conversation with people in the situations they’re learning about.”

Students will develop research skills and improve Spanish language skills, while learning about a culture and society far from home. It is recommended that students have at least an intermediate Spanish speaking ability and are able to carry on a conversation. The course is especially valuable for students in anthropology, Spanish/Latin American studies, environmental and global studies. It is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Interested students should complete the application form. For more information, contact To check out all offerings for spring/summer, visit

By Jacob Stocking, educational outreach and international programs communications associate.

The Office of International Programs leads Wayne State's global engagement by creating opportunities that foster international education and research, facilitate the exchange of individuals and ideas that promote global competencies and citizenship, and provide resources that support the expansion of the university's global agenda. Follow us @WayneOIP.

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