IU Global and International Studies. SGIS / Heritage Service Learning Field Study Abroad / Summer Study Abroad /Student Projects in Sustainable Community Tourism at Chichen Itza & Piste are conducted through the IU CLACS Service Service Learning Program in Yucatan. Indiana University Bloomington. Quetzil Castaneda, professor. CLACS directed by Anke Birkenmaier. Heritage Development Studies, Tourism Studies. Field School. Field Study Abroad. Mexico. community action research, participatory research, participatory anthropology, New Seven Wonders of the World. Mexico, Chichen Itza.

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Course and Program Description

              IU Community Tourism Service Learning in Yucatán

6 week course Summer Session, 6 credits

LTAM L-426 & L-526, Combined Undergraduate and Graduate Course

Offered Through IUB Office of Overseas Study,Indiana University Bloomington


Course Catalog Description

This course provides undergraduate and graduate students expertise in field research, community action research methods, and sustainable community tourism development in the Yucatán (Chichén Itzá and Maya Riviera).  Specifically students apply theories and concepts from interdisciplinary tourism studies in the areas of their specialization, such as NGO/non-profit sector, tourism marketing and branding, tourism event management, urban planning/tourism geography, and spatial analysis of tourism activities and consumption. Students work with communities to help them develop locally controlled and owned tourism businesses in Maya communities located near Chichén Itzá, a major international tourism destination and UNESCO World Heritage site. Students work in teams to create branding strategies, community business associations, tourism events, and marketing products for community partners to increase the direct benefits for local peoples and communities. The course combines traditional classroom learning and fieldwork (field based research) learning on-site in the Maya world of Yucatán.  Specifically, this research and field study abroad course provides students with direct experiential training in and academic knowledge of international tourism development and the unique problems of creating sustainable community oriented tourism.  The first one week of the course is conducted on-campus and then followed by four weeks in the Yucatán Peninsula, México.  The primary on-site location is the Indigenous Maya community of Pisté, which provides the majority of tourism services to Chichén. A required orientation meeting is held in March.  This is a combined undergraduate and graduate course.  Graduate Students must submit an application and enroll through the IU Office of Overseas Study website.

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Summary Six Week Summer Program

Dates: May 10 to June 15, 2016

Six (6) credits Undergrad and Graduate Level
Credits Satisfy Requirements for Graduate Certificate in Latin American & Caribbean Studies
• International Studies Major requirement for international experience.

Enrollment Limited to 14 Undergraduate and 6 graduate students

Program Field Site: Maya community of Pisté, located 3 km from Chichén Itzá, México

Lodging At Program Site family run hostels or shared group lodging, Homestay Option is available.  Double or triple accommodations in hotels in the Maya Riviera

Meals: program costs include two meals a day.

Field Trips: can vary based on budget; program includes overnight in Playa del Carmen & Tulum; day trips to Chichén Itzá, Valladolid, Yaxuna, Yokdzonot, and Mérida

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Restricted to IU graduate students in good academic standing with GPA of 2.4 or higher
  • Completion of one year of graduate school, any major/minor, field or discipline
  • One year of college Spanish or equivalent placement; native fluency, or heritage speaker. 
Application Deadline:  Monday February 22
  • Graduate students submit an application through IU Overseas Study.
  • Students must be formally accepted before being authorized to enroll.
  • A non-refundable deposit of $500 must be paid in March to complete enrollment

Undergraduate Program Fee is $2,395

In-State Graduate Program Fee: $2,395

Out of State Graduate Program Fee: $3,445

Summer tuition remission is applicable; please check with your grad advisor to arrange.

Program Fee includes

  • the cost of tuition for 6 IU credits at graduate or undergraduate level; 
  • lodging and two meals a day during the international component in Mexico;
  • local transportation for all mandatory group travel in México, including round trip ground transportation to/from Cancun Airport
  • entrance fees for mandatory field trips to archaeological sites and tourist attractions;
  • all mandatory group program activities.
  • Medical insurance during overseas component of program (variable 30-36 days)

The program fee excludes

  • Round trip international airfare between Indianapolis and Cancun;
  • Ground travel from residence to and from US airport;
  • One meal a day during overnight field trips  México;
  • Optional field trips & group activities are out of pocket payment of expenses by student;
  • Personal items, including medicine, hygiene, beauty, and gifts for individual use;
  • Individually purchased food, service, lodging, or other consumables are excluded.
Undergraduate Grading and Assignments
  • On Campus Seminar Participation and Tourism Essay          20%
  • Five Field Trip based Reflections                                             20%
  • Community Tourism Service Learning Project & Portfolio          60%

  • o Fieldwork Reflections (3 total: partner, fieldwork, project process) 10%
    o Fieldnotes and Archive (of all photos, video, audio, scans) 10%
    o Fieldwork Materials: Assessment, Focus Group Interviewing, etc. 10%
    o Proposal: Draft & Revision, 10%
    o Project Results & Products & Analysis; e.g., webpages, visual marketing 10%
    o Project Presentations to Group and to Community Partners 10%

Graduate Coursework & Evaluation
This course is a combined graduate and undergraduate course with shared readings and activities. Nonetheless, graduate students are (1) assigned more and higher level reading than undergrads; (2) are expected to complete more comprehensive and higher quality seminar assignments and field work; and (3) are assigned special grad level assignments as Project Coordinators (field research supervisors) of the teams of undergrads conducting the service learning projects.

Graduate Grading and Assignments

Seminar Participation & Academic Essay on Tourism Theories              15%
Research Essays (tourism analyses of visited tourism destinations)         15%
Community Tourism Research, & Team Leadership                                 15%
Community Tourism Research Products & Research Portfolio                25%
Journal Article Report & Synthesis of Community Tourism Project        30%

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Upcoming Projects and Project Ideas for 2016

Community Tourism Service Learning Projects are focused on the development of strategies and the implementation of branding, tourist-consumers, marketing and promotion through online web presence. Projects based in development of branding strategies can include assessment of tourism services and destinations in relation to tourism markets, types of tourist consumers, and sociopolitical contexts of development; implementation focuses on signage, representation, and the correlation of these to brand and types of tourist consumers that are attracted to the community partner destinations. Projects that focus on online web presence can include the development of websites but more importantly on providing training to community partners in the maintenance and further development of websites. Projects that focus on marketing and promotion create strategies for development of visual and video materials manifesting positive tourist experiences and reviews. Implementation includes strategic placement of materials on already existing websites that provide tourist information, services, travel agencies, travel reviews, such as Trip Advisor, locogringo.com, yucatantoday.com, Cancun Tips, Google Maps, Bing Maps, and related sites. Projects based in work with local government and private sector focus on urban planning of tourism development, creation of tourism business associations, strategic design of tourism events and activities, the development of marketing tools for community partners, and strategic or long term visions tourism development.



Yokdzonot Cenote Project

In 2016-2018, students will work on projects that continue to materialize and express the re-branding of Yokdzonot as an eco-chic tourism destination that was initiated in 2015. This includes working on ways to re-make and improve the signage and services at the destination itself, but also includes working ways to establish a coherent online media presence that reflects and attracts the eco-chic traveler. Concretely this means, creating video and images that express this tourist and then figuring out ways to have these marketing materials uploaded to the web at diverse tourism information websites ranging from TripAdvisor, Google and Bing Maps, to other regionally specific travel guide/agency websites for the Yucatan — such as, yucatantoday.com, locogringo.com, Mexican travel board, Cancun tips, Akumal, etc.

Pisté Loncheria Project

In 2016-2018, students will continue to design and create promotional and marketing materials for the Pisté Loncherias in the downtown Arcos building; a second project is based on Pisté Posadas and the initiation of similar work with these owners of tourism services. Projects include completion of the rebranding of menus and signage, as well as creating a marketing strategy based in visual images and short videos with tourists providing positive reviews and expressing positive tourist experience. As well, we need to continue to develop, correct and improve the online web presence of these loncherias on TripAdvisor, Google and Bing Maps, and related travel review sites — such as, yucatantoday.com, locogringo.com, Mexican travel board, Cancun tips.

Google Maps Pisté Project

Google Maps has re-opened map editing by users starting in the fall of 2015. This creates a welcome opportunity for project teams to create comprehensive strategies and plans to googlize the tourism services and attractions of Pisté and nearby communities of the Chichén Itzá micro-region (Yaxuna, Yokdzonot, Xcalacoop, Dzitas). Specific Community Tourism Projects to create prominent online web presence on Google and Bing maps can be designed around particular target goals such as surrounding communities, eco-adventure tourism attractions, tourism businesses and services.

Pisté Tourism Services and Business Association Project

Starting in the summer of 2016 IU Service Learning is going to be working directly with the city and county government to create an effective strategy and plan of implementation of sustainable community tourism. Priority projects are: assisting the community create to a) a business association of hotels, restaurants and other services that can take effective action as a positive force for sustainable development; b) a strategy of urban planning of tourism development and community growth and zoning; c) a strategy of tourism branding, including correlated activities and events, to foment tourism attractiveness as a destination for particular types tourist-consumers.

OperaMaya in Chichén Project

Starting in the summer of 2016, IU Service Learning In Yucatan will be directly collaborate with OperaMaya and the Tinum County to create an annual music and cultural festival in Chichén Itzá and Pisté. The OperaMaya team will work with the county and city officials as well as local businesses to conceptualize and conduct promotion and marketing for the OperaMaya concerts to be held in early July every year.

Heritage Project

Starting in the summer of 2016, IU Service Learning In Yucatan will collaborate with the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Sindicato del INAH. The Team Projects work with the INAH Custodios to create and implement cultural heritage awareness programs for Maya communities. These programs have the goal of increasing positive understanding and appreciation of archaeological heritage and contemporary Maya culture and language in communities that have suffered historical disenfranchisement for their racial, cultural and linguistic identities.

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Program Content Program Logistics

⇒ Service Learning Projects  

⇒ Program Cost  

⇒ Program Locations 

⇒ Eligibility & Requirements 

⇒ Program Lodging and Meals 

⇒ Application Process 

⇒ Field Trips and Tourism Attractions 

⇒ Student Travel Info 

⇒ Community Partners 

⇒ Program Calendar & Schedule 

⇒ Course Syllabus   

⇒ Teaching & Research Facility  

⇒ Program Director & Staff / Faculty  

⇒ Travel Safety & Security in Yucatán  


This Service Learning experience will make THE difference in your life

Visitors to Service Learning in Yucatan Program, starting November 2, 2014

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