Spend your winter break studying the biodiversity and fragile habitats of southern Chile. The trails of national parks like Torres del Paine and the expansive Patagonian steppe become your classroom as you explore the region from high-alpine forests to glaciers to the lower-elevation steppe. You’ll practice animal observation and census techniques on species like the guanaco, Andean condor, and elusive puma, and explore how nature adapts in extreme conditions.
Hike through the dramatic landscapes of Torres del Paine National Park and take an expedition to neighboring Argentina and the stunning Perito Moreno Glacier.
Program Costs & Financial Aid
Meet Your Admissions Counselor
SFS provides a comprehensive study abroad experience during a 6-day/week program schedule. SFS delivers the highest level of support and an unparalleled academic experience.
All students are welcome to apply for our need-based financial aid. Students who exhibit financial need for their program will be offered SFS financial aid. SFS aid is offered through a combination of scholarships, grants and loans.
Pell Grant Match
SFS matches Federal Pell Grant funding for students applying to an SFS semester program.
Many SFS students receive aid through their home institutions or other outside sources, so check with your financial aid office to see what aid may apply to an SFS program.
Cait was raised on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Cait joined the SFS team in 2017 after graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Sociology and Education. During the fall of her junior year, she studied in Florence, Italy. In the heart of Tuscany, she discovered her passion for learning and experiencing through education abroad. Throughout her career, Cait has facilitated a Faculty-Lead Program throughout Ireland and Scotland, served as an International Coordinator for a higher education first year abroad program, and has served in SFS Admissions advising and preparing students for their adventures to the field. Cait loves to share her passion for education abroad with every student she serves, and believes international education is an important part of any student’s undergraduate experience. Cait can’t wait to prepare you for your SFS experience!
Itinerary varies from term to term and is subject to change. Program activities take place 6 days a week with one day free.
Week 1: ¡Bienvenidos a Chile! Move into dorms, meet roommates, and attend program orientation. Start classes with introductory field lectures around Puerto Natales. Multi-day hiking and camping trip in Torres del Paine. Explore Paine Grande, the highest summit in the Cordillera Paine range. Conduct animal observation exercises and attend field lectures. Visit a glacier and a local estancia. Return to the SFS Center.
Week 2: Lectures on Patagonian climate and natural history, stream systems, and alpine ecology. Aquatic field exercise at Laguna Sofia, with lectures on paleolakes and macroinvertebrates. Explore Cueva del Milodon, a cave monument containing giant ground sloth bones. Multi-day excursion to Argentina to visit El Calafate and the Perito Merino glacier.
Week 3: Travel to the island of Tierra del Fuego, visit the king penguin colony on Isla Magdalena in the Strait of Magellan, and explore the city of Punta Arenas. Lectures on climate change, ecosystem services, and water governance. Final exam. Re-entry exercises and closing activities. Head home.
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:
Coastal and alpine ecology
Endangered species protection
Climate change impacts and resilience
Conservation strategy and practice
National park visitation and protected areas management
On the Foundations of Patagonian Ecology program, you will take one 3-credit course. This course is participatory in nature and is designed to foster inquiry and active learning combining lectures, field exercises, assignments, and tests. This course is taught in English.
is an interdisciplinary, field-based course focused on the biodiversity and fragile habitats of Patagonia looking at a mix of coastal ecology, alpine ecology, and exposed terrestrial ecology. We will examine the ecology and evolution of faunal species such as guanaco, Magellenic and King penguins, and flightless Rhea, most of them endemic to the region. We will examine how invasive species, both aquatic and terrestrial, have become threats to endemic ones. Though flora is not particularly diverse here (save for the lichens and bryophytes) the floral structural complexity is fascinating. The course is constructed so the lens of climate shifts and perturbations will be central to discussions and observations.
You will gain practical skills in the field such as: terrestrial biodiversity assessments and survey techniques, species ID and population monitoring, landscape and soils analysis, tourism impact assessments, scientific writing and communication.
You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include glaciers and ice fields, glacial lakes and rivers, sub-polar broadleaf evergreen forests, pampa grasslands, penguin colonies, popular national parks, and estancias and port cities.
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.
Dorm living with two to four students per room
Classroom and student lounge
Kitchen and dining room, and on-site cooking staff
Nearby running routes in town
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
Click on the icons below to learn more about our Center in Chile.