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Guatemala City, Antigua, Santiago, Guatemala

Program Description

Guatemala is a country rich with environmental beauty, indigenous cultures, and a complex history. We'll follow coffee production from farm to processing, work on a house using indigenous and natural building techniques, and explore sustainability issues in several settings.

We will explore a variety of environmental, social, and economic challenges faced by communities around the country, visit organizations working on solutions, and discover what impacts (both positive and negative) our lifestyles have on our global neighbors.

Location Description

We will spend time in several places around the country, starting in Guatemala City but spending a majority of the time around Lake Atitlan, and in Antigua.

Guatemala City has a population of about 3 Million, and will be our starting point for understanding the local context of the sustainability challenges faced.

Lake Atitlan is a high altitude lake surrounded by (dormant) volcanoes, and welcomes tourists from around the world. The steep mountainsides are filled with coffee, corn, and forests, but the breathtaking scenery isn't the only attraction. With a population that is mostly indigenous descendants of the Mayans local culture, art, and crafts also draw visitors.

Antigua was the Spanish colonial capital until several earthquakes forced the capital to relocate. However the city was rebuilt, keeping the historic architecture, cobblestone streets, and Spanish influence, making it a tourism hot spot. Agriculture in the area includes avocado farms, coffee plantations, and sugarcane, adding to the city's charm.

All students will enroll in the 1-credit ISCI 104 and then choose either ISAT 180 or GEO 310 for a total of four credits.


Jared Stoltzfus | | ISAT


Students will experience a variety of accommodations including a week of home-stays with an indigenous family, an eco-lodge, and a resort hotel. Students will typically be in shared double rooms, and always within walking distance to others in the group, and transportation options.

Many meals will be provided by host families, or provided to the whole group by the lodging or partner organization. Students will be allocated a meal stipend to cover any meals not already included, but they may wish to supplement the meal stipend with their own money if they have expensive taste.

Additional Items to Consider

Itinerary and lodging options may depend on program enrollment.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.5

Some Spanish is recommended

Designed with ISAT and GEOG majors and minors in mind, but any student with environmental interests is welcome!

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short essay 
  • Interview with Program Director may be required
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

Program Closed.

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


ISCI 104: Natural Building Workshop (1 credit)

ISAT 480: Topics in ISAT: Environmental Issues in Guatemala (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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