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Frequently Asked Questions

2004 Summer Field School Training Program
7 Weeks, July 4 through August 17, 2004

The 2004 Program in Mérida and Pisté, Yucatán, México
The OSEA Summer Field School is a seven week program designed for undergraduate and graduate students in anthropology and related fields of the humanities and the social sciences. The program is ideal for students in anthropology, Latin American studies programs, cultural studies and related humanities fields who want an intensive field research experience. The program combines classroom based seminars on topics in cultural anthropology and ethnography with experiential learning at different heritage sites and with fieldwork experience conducting independent ethnographic research. To facilitate language proficiency, conversational courses in Spanish and Yucatec Maya language are offered.

Contact us to be added to our mailing list for information on the 2005 Summer Field School in Playa del Carmen, México (July and August).

Program Structure
The first part of the program primarily consists of seminars that culminate in the student designing their own independent project according to their specific interests. The second part of the program consists of students conducting their own research and producing final projects of notes, descriptions, data management records, and summary reports. A weekly Fieldwork Forum provides students the opportunity to present their successes, frustrations, dilemmas, and achievements in fieldwork to each and receive constructive commentary during the research process.

Research Areas
Students have the opportunity to develop research on any topic or theme that interests them, so far as these are suitable for realization. Students are located in communties appropriate for their research design. Options include but are not limited to:

  • Linguistic research on dialectical variations of spoken Maya
  • Tourism, development, tourist consumption and markets
  • Archaeological and/or ecological Heritage management
  • Maya healing, health, religion, ritual and forms of spirituality
  • Maya identity politics, Mexican party politics in communities
  • Migration and urbanism, culture contact zones at tourism destinations
  • Multimedia ethnography and visual anthropology
  • Youth culture, transcultural dynamics of alternative modernities
  • Medical anthropology of the Maya and of alternative medicines
  • Anthropology of education and indigenous education
The Summer Field School requires Home-Stays with Maya families to enable language and cultural immersion. Short educational field trips are included and an extended educational excursion is optional.

OSEA courses are accredited by the Facultad de Ciencias Antropológicas of the UAdY, or Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, which provides each student with an official transcript.

Before their departure from the US, OSEA offers advice to students on how to ensure proper transfer of the college credits they will earn abroad.

Program Cost and Deadlines
$3,200. Includes Tuition, Course Accredited Transcript, Home Stay (Room and Board), Activities Fee and Educational Excursions and Field Trips.
Please inquire on the optional Educational Excursions and Field Trips which include guided tours of archaeological and ecological sites in the tourism region of Cancun and the Mayan Riviera as well as a brief ethnographic exploration of Playa del Carmen.

Deadline for receipt of completed application: May 24, 2004.
OSEA has a rolling deadline for applications for the Summer Field School, and applicants receive notification of decision within one week of receipt of completed application. After May 24, inquire as to space available.

See the Tuition & Fees page for the complete tuition and fee schedule.

Work Exchange for Tuition Reduction
A limited number of highly competitive Work/Study Exchange Positions are available. In exchange for research and teaching assistance, OSEA offers a tuition reduction.

Summer Program Course Offerings

Seminar in Anthropology: Maya Peoples, Cultures, Histories

This course provides students with fundamental understanding of the anthropology of the contemporary Maya. The course focuses on the present histories of Maya peoples in Yucatán, identity politics, the role and history of anthropological knowledge production about the Maya, anthropology of education, tourism development, heritage, Maya traditions of health, healing, religion and ritual. This course provides the content knowledge and foundation from which students can develop their research projects. Evaluation is based on seminar participation, control of readings, and short written assignments.

Seminar in Ethnography: Research, Methods and Fieldwork
This course provides students with the foundations of ethnographic research, methodologies and fieldwork. The course explores questions of ethics, representation, methods, fieldwork practices, and research design. Evaluation is based on seminar participation, readings, and short written assignments. Students are required to produce a research design and proposal.

Independent Ethnographic Research & Fieldwork
This course consists two parts, the actual conduct of the research project developed during seminars and a forum workshop conducted 3-5 hours once a week during the second half of the OSEA Training Program. This workshop is guided and supervised presentation of independent student research projects. Students return from their field sites to Pisté to participate. Activities include presentation of research problems, results, processes, dynamics, and activities. Students learn basics of formal and informal presentation of materials as they receive support from each other and guidance on their research from the OSEA staff.

Independent Research Projects
These projects are determined on site in relation to the students projected interests and research goals as presented in the application. Although students are strongly guided and supervised in their formulation of research, students have the fullest range possible of research issues and themes as are viable within the context of the OSEA.

Educational Excursions & Field Trips
Included in the program are interactive learning experiences based on educational field trips to Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, Kabah, a colonial hacienda, the town of Oxkutzcab, and Mérida. The optional field trip includes guided tours of archaeological and ecological sites in the tourism region of Cancun and the Mayan Riviera as well as a brief ethnographic exploration of Playa del Carmen.

Spoken Maya and Spanish Language for Ethnographic Field Research
The intensive training in Spanish and Yucatec Maya is at intermediate and beginning level respectively. The intensive training has the objective of preparing students for total language immersion in the bi-lingual life-world of Yucatán. Teaching methods include hands-on, interactive assignments modeled on “Reality-TV” team-competition games. Evaluation of learning is primarily based on student ability to successfully interact with and engage persons in their native languages of Spanish and Maya. Students are frequently assigned interactive tasks as part of the practicum of language immersion.

Summer Field School Course Plan

Program Component Location Class/In-Field Hours Credits

Orientation Mérida



Spoken Maya and Spanish Language for Ethnographic Field Research

Mérida & Pisté

20 /15


Seminar in Anthropology Pisté 35 3

Seminar in Ethnography




Research Forum & Fieldwork Location Varies 10 / 90 (fieldwork hours) 6
Total Credit Offerings   7 weeks 15

Students must take: Seminar in Anthropology, Seminar in Ethnography and the Research Forum and Fieldwork, and Spoken Maya and Spanish Language for Ethnographic Field Research.

Scheduling of Weekly and Daily Classroom Hours



Commentary on Scheduling & Activities


Seminars (Ethnography & Anthropology) and Language Training Arrival and Orientation in Mérida

Shuttle to and from Mérida Airport on arrival and school closing/departure

2 Seminars & Language Training in Pisté Weekends are “Free” – independent student activities
3 Seminars & Language Training in Pisté Optional Educational Excursion
4 Independent Fieldwork  
5 Independent Field Research Projects Weekly Research Forum in Pisté for Supervision
6 Independent Field Research Projects  
7 Finalize Projects, Evaluations, Clausura Write Up Reports, Evaluations, and Closing Activities

In-Field Hours are Experiential Learning conducted with local experts and OSEA staff; 15 class days (3 wks) of Seminars, each Seminar 2 hrs daily plus one hour language elective; 15 days (3 wks) of Independent Research at 6 hrs daily for 90 hrs of Course Fieldwork