Wild Patagonia: Fire and Ice


This academically rigorous program follows a six-day/week schedule. The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to help students actively discover and understand the complexities of environmental, social, and economic issues in Chile. Read more about the SFS program model.

Major academic themes include:

  • Climate change impacts and resilience
  • Glacial and freshwater dynamics
  • Geology and volcanic activity
  • Penguin behavior
  • Endangered species protection
  • Coastal and alpine ecology
  • Conservation strategy and practice
  • National park visitation and protected areas management


On the Wild Patagonia: Fire and Ice program, you will take three 4-credit disciplinary courses, one 2-credit language and culture course, and a 4-credit capstone Directed Research course. Courses are participatory in nature and are designed to foster inquiry and active learning. Each course combines lectures, field exercises, assignments, tests, and research. All courses are taught in English.

Click on each course to view a description and download the syllabus.

SFS 2001 Language, Culture, and Society of Chile 2 credits
SFS 3081 Political and Social Dimensions of Conservation 4 credits
SFS 3601 Earth Systems and Climate Science 4 credits
SFS 3781 Patagonian Ecology 4 credits
SFS 4910 Directed Research 4 credits

Core Skills

You will gain practical skills in the field such as: terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity assessments, GIS, water quality assessments, biodiversity survey techniques, species ID and population monitoring, natural resource valuation, landscape and soils analysis, research design and implementation, quantitative/qualitative data collection and analysis, scientific writing and communication, basic Spanish language skills.

Field Sites

You will visit different ecosystems and communities, which may include glaciers and ice fields, fjords, coastal villages and port cities, glacial lakes and rivers, Valdivian temperate forests, sub-polar broadleaf evergreen forests, pampa grasslands, protected areas surrounding the Calbuco and Osorno volcanoes, penguin colonies, the culturally unique island of Chiloé, and popular national parks.

Directed Research

In the Directed Research course, each student completes a field research project under the mentorship of a faculty member – beginning with data collection and analysis and concluding with a research paper and presentation. Project subject areas span ecology, natural resource management, conservation science, environmental ethics, and socioeconomics.

Find Out More
All program components are subject to change.

Where You'll Be Living

Surrounded by the jagged peaks of Cerro Benítez and the deep blue waters of the Señoret Channel lies the port city of Puerto Natales – the gateway to the famous Torres del Paine National Park. Located in the heart of this bustling tourist hub is the Center for Climate Studies, your home base for expeditions throughout the region.

  • Up to 6-person, dorm-style rooms with shared bathrooms
  • Classroom and student lounge
  • Kitchen and dining room, and on-site cooking staff
  • Just a few blocks from the town square, shops, and cafes of Puerto Natales
  • Short walk to the Señoret Channel, a scenic fjord with views of the Andes