Have you ever wanted to live in the Amazon rainforest, take a riverboat expedition to survey rare wildlife like pink dolphins, or visit the Andean highlands and the ancient city of Cusco?
Whether you’re an experienced traveler or looking for your first trip to another country, studying abroad is an important component of your college career. Living abroad gives you the opportunity to explore new places and learn about different cultures, gaining important global perspectives, discovering new things about yourself, and building lifelong friendships.
Our program in Peru takes place in the rich ecosystems of the Amazon, with excursions to the highlands of the Andes, visits with Indigenous communities, and meetings with diverse agricultural organizations. Courses and fieldwork focus on key environmental issues faced here such as climate change, biodiversity conservation, environmental ethics and justice, and sustainable livelihoods. The forests of the Peruvian Amazon are increasingly under threat from climate change, rapid development, and extractive activities like logging and mining. From the terra firme and flooded forests of the lowlands to the glacial lakes and tropical montane forests of the Andes, Peru’s landscapes need comprehensive and inclusive strategies for conservation. Our research here provides important insights into the fate of the Amazon and all the life that depends on it.
In the heart of the Amazon, dense green foliage blankets the horizon as far as the eye can see. For millennia, its rich natural resources have supported human communities and an incredible diversity of wildlife species found nowhere else on the planet. This great and complex rainforest is also one of the world’s most impactful ecosystems – Amazonian watersheds account for 20% of the world’s fresh river water.
“Before this program, I had only left the country once before, and that was to go to Montreal in Canada. I was a little nervous joining the program due to that, but my fears were groundless. This program was stunning in scenery, meticulous in safety preparations, and fascinating in class information. I learned more during my semester with SFS than I had learned in the previous year in University, in addition to meeting and befriending many like-minded nature nuts and hiking pals.”
– Sean, University of Massachusetts Lowell
“Amazonia is a land of magic – something I’ve learned time and again while here. It takes many forms, but each has made me incredibly thankful to be here. My first glimpse of the Amazon river was christened with the leaps of dolphins, and I knew in that instant that I had made the right choice.”
– Tess, Reed College
“SFS Peru is the place to make lifelong friends who become your family, be surrounded by amazing amounts of wildlife, and study and work in the Amazon rainforest. Expect to be amazed every day and live in a place you may have never considered a potential home. Travel and field excursions throughout the rainforest, as well as the highlands, make this program fantastic.”
– Ashley, Wellesley College
Where You'll Be Living
Between the remote city of Iquitos and the port city of Nauta, nestled in the Amazon, sits the Center. The sounds of the forest permeate our campus, from student cabins to the pool and open-air student lounge. The rainforest is accessible via an on-campus trail system traversing our 183-acre property. Small communities and local shops are within walking distance.
Dorm living with two to six person bunkrooms
Open-air student lounge and study space
Large dining area and outdoor patio, on-site cooking staff
Trail network extends from campus into rainforest
Traditional thatched-roof classroom
Swimming pool, soccer field, volleyball, and hammock huts
Study abroad is an investment in yourself – you’ll return home with new experiences, skills, knowledge, and friendships that will stay with you for the rest of your life. SFS program costs cover a variety of expenses, including:
We know cost can be one of the biggest barriers to studying abroad. At SFS, we’re committed to making our programs accessible to students which is why we award more than $650,000 in need-based financial aid each year. Our Admissions Team has worked with thousands of students and are here to answer your questions about the SFS aid process, aid available through your home school, and funding from external sources.
SFS Financial Aid: Need-based aid packages typically consist of a combination of scholarships, grants, and zero- and low-interest loans. SFS matches Federal Pell Grant funding for students applying to an SFS semester program.
Home School Aid: Be sure to ask your home school study abroad office or financial aid office what financial aid resources might be available to support your study abroad experience.
External Funding Opportunities: Organizations such as the Fund for Education Abroad or the Gilman International Scholarship Program award scholarships to students going abroad. These can be a great opportunity to reduce the cost of your program even more.
Research at the SFS Center for Amazon Studies focuses on biodiversity conservation and ecosystem protection in the face of increasing human development and resource use. Students and faculty engage with local community members, Indigenous groups, land managers, agriculturalists, conservation organizations, and fellow researchers. As the only rainforest of its size left on the planet, the Amazon harbors unmatched biodiversity and carbon sequestration, and the success of conservation efforts here has both regional and global implications.
Our research focuses primarily on the following themes:
Forest and soil ecology
Perceptions and impacts of development in the Amazon
Rural livelihoods and land use
Natural resource management
Forest health and recovery
Sustainable use of non-timber forest products
Our Centers are strategically located in regions facing critical environmental issues. Students and faculty study these issues and collect data to help facilitate sustainable responses. In Peru, we’re currently investigating the following issues:
Students learn firsthand how climate change is impacting the ecological patterns and processes that underpin the extraordinary biodiversity of the Amazon. Students explore the effects of climate change through the concepts of ecological resilience, dispersal and divergence of species, and the value of ecosystem services.
Students learn about species extinction and the loss of genetic diversity in the region by conducting population viability analyses and considering human population growth and consumption. We also learn about trophic cascades and ecosystem meltdown, as well as Pleistocene extinctions.
Students examine how environmental policy, particularly in the Amazon, is shaped by political ecology, and learn about the political, economic, and social factors of environmental issues and changes. We also consider how environmental policy is shaped by the theories and ethics of sustainable and unsustainable development, and the need to view these issues in ways that are inclusive and just.
The Amazon is an amazing location to examine the ways in which environmental geography influences how power is gained, legitimized, exercised, and resisted. Students study the concept of environmental justice within the Amazonian region in terms of the particularities of place, culture, and history. We discuss the value of biodiversity, both intrinsic and extrinsic, and consider the environmental ethics of defining these values.
The rich natural resources of the Amazon region, and their proper management, have supported human populations for millennia, including indigenous groups who still live in these forests. Today, increasing extractive activities threaten the unique ecosystems, habitats, and species through urban and peri-urban development, road installation, destructive logging, unregulated mining, and high-input agriculture. Students study the impacts of the rapidly changing demands on natural resources in order to help promote the sustainable management of the unique and globally important Amazon.
Students visit rare primary tropical rainforests and learn about the histories of people whose traditions and livelihoods are intimately connected to the Amazon. We study how natural resources have been managed over millennia and examine a suite of livelihood strategies that are both typical of resource-rich, rural areas and unique to Peru. Students learn how nature-society interactions, such as agriculture, resource extraction, tourism, and rural development, have shaped local livelihoods.
SFS is an active part of the broader Iquitos region community.
We have built long-term, collaborative relationships in the communities around the Center, and developed our research plans based on the environmental issues they and the surrounding ecosystems face. Throughout the program, students work with the young members of our SFS Eco Club and interact with local residents through community mingas (work projects), our recycling program, local festivals, and sporting events.
At the end of each semester program, we host a Community Research Night where select students will present their research findings to the community. SFS research data is shared with communities, local NGOs, and the Peruvian government.