Gaining experience in the field is vital to a student of Anthropology. Being trained in Ethnographic Field Methods and having the opportunity to put that training into practice is an important step in becoming a well-rounded Anthropologist.
Each of the Six Week Field School Sessions will be structured to maximize the guest Student’s training and field experiences, as well as opportunities to enjoy the natural and man-made wonders of Isla Mujeres. Each week students will experience Field Work with their Local Expert Mentors, along with Weekly Excursions, such as taking a Lanchero to the Contoy Island Nature Preserve, swimming in the open Caribbean ocean with protected Whale Sharks, touring the Isla Mujeres Tortugranja Turtle Preserve, diving or snorkeling at the Cancun Subaquatic Museum, or visiting the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá.
Students will have group discussions every Sunday to share their experiences in the field with their fellow classmates, give and receive advice, as well as to participate in some of the local traditions Isla Mujeres is famous for, and to participate in popular leisure activities -- like relaxing on a stunning beach, exploring local island culture in a golf cart, SUP Boarding in the blue waters of Playa Norte, fishing, visiting the Temple of Ixchel, SCUBA diving or snorkeling, practicing yoga, or exploring fantastic local cuisine and live music. We hope you will join us for our Summer 2013 Sessions!
The Isla Mujeres Ethnographic Field School provides:
Visiting Students will experience much of what the Isla Mujeres has to offer, such as swimming with Whale Sharks, sea turtle preservation efforts, visiting a nearby nature preserve island, open water diving certification, snorkeling and diving reefs, swimming with dolphins, diving an underwater sculpture museum and much more!
Isla Mujeres is a very small island in the Caribbean, located about 8 miles off of the coast of Cancun. Spanning about 5 miles long and a half mile wide at its widest point, Isla Mujeres is a Mexican Caribbean treasure. Here you will find the remains of an ancient Mayan temple to the Goddess Ixchel, and although Spanish is the official language, many of the locals still speak Mayan fluently. The economy of the Isla Mujeres (simply referred to as 'Isla'” by those who live there) is driven by tourism, followed by fishing and the Mexican Naval Base on the island. Located 1.5 hours from the Coba Ruins, 2 hours from the Tulum Ruins, and 2.5 hours from Chichén Itzá, Isla has a rich Mayan tradition spanning several thousand years, intersecting interestingly with a history of Pirates! The tranquil flow of modern island life on the island, however, is something to experience and truly enjoy.
Ethnography is all about being there and learning the most important aspects of how anthropological research is conducted. Because Isla Mujeres is a Caribbean tourist town that thrives on Eco-Tourism, the Isla Mujeres Ethnographic Field School will focus much of the training on those subjects. For instance, thousands of people come to Isla each year to scuba dive the reefs or to swim with protected Whale Sharks. These two activities are intertwined with the subjects of eco-tourism, sustainable tourism, local economies and environmental protection. Therefore, some students of the Field School might want to focus their internships and independent research projects on those subjects.
Ethnographic Field School is hard work and students will be busy most of the day conducting field research or in lectures. But the Field School is on Isla Mujeres, so it will be a lot of fun as well. Each student will be paired up with a Local Expert Mentor that they will intern for. This is your Participant Observation role while at the Field School. If you wish to learn about Eco-Tourism and, for example, Whale Sharks -- then you will be teamed up with a boat crew that conducts Whale Shark Tours in order to learn about their lives, as well as environmental aspects of that business on the ground (or in this example, out to sea). The Ethnographic Methods training will be contextualized within theoretical foundations, but will be grounded theoretically as well. Students will be trained in qualitative and quantitative research techniques that are utilized in formal and informal ways during the ethnographic research process.
Spanish Language Boot Camp is required participation for three days during the first week of the Field School. The instructor will gauge your knowledge of Spanish and group you with students of similar knowledge and level of expertise so that, even if you are familiar with the language, you will receive the proper language familiarization. Although some people who live on the island do speak English, you will find that most do not. Please note your level of Spanish fluency in your Application.
PADI Certification Dive School is included in the tuition fees and will be a key element of training for students. This will underscore your understanding of the complex relationship between the environment and culture, especially in regard to sustainable tourism and local political economies. Students may select the appropriate level of dive training if they are beyond beginner -- up to and including Assistant Instructor PADI Certification. Documents supporting levels above beginner will be needed for registration in advanced courses -- please indicate your level of PADI Certification in your Application.
If a student wishes to not participate in the PADI certification or other water-based activities, please let us know and we will modify your course of study.
Field Assistant Positions are available to first summer session attendees that want to stay on for the second session of 2013. Students who become Field Assistants can continue their first session research projects (doubling your fieldwork experience), help second session students on their projects, and assist on lectures and Adventure Excursions. Only students who complete the first Field School Session may apply to become a Field Assistant. Please see the Tuition section for fee details and indicate within your Application that you would like to be a Field School Assistant for the second session.