C O U R S E   O V E R V I E W


The Isla Mujeres Ethnographic Field School Practicum Sessions are 3 week long intensive ethnographic training modules designed for students who are seeking to learn some of the basic techniques used within ethnographic research. This course is ideal for students who can not dedicate eight weeks to the advanced course.


Students of the Practicum Session will participate in daily lectures while also conducting practical exercises with various ethnographic methods.


This course is will allow students to learn which types of methods might best fit their personal needs as well as project based objectives.

Students of this course can take a more generalized ethnographic focus, or they can focus on medical anthropology issues. For the first session we are offering a focus on Teen Pregnancy and HIV Prevention. 


Practicum Students (3 weeks) are eligible for 3 credit hours.  Please contact Dr, Pierce at for more information regarding academic credit for Isla Mujeres Ethnographic Field School studies.  Additional fees apply.







The Ethnographic Methods Practicum Session will teach students how to conduct ethnographic fieldwork as well as how to put that research into real action.


This course will be a more generalized focus on methods, cultural process, meaning, symbolism and cultural practice, as opposed to the more focused medical anthropology sessions that are offered at the same time. Students of both the generalized ethnographic methods practicum will be trained along side those with the medical anthropology focus, but will have different practical tasks to complete. 


Preparation for field research includes learning about ethics in human subjects research, understanding emic vs. etic perspectives, establishing rapport, awareness of the politics of representation, and the importance of reflexivity in “writing culture”. Special attention will be focused on medical issues within populations, with a particular focus on connecting local non-Western ideologies with biomedical systems, understanding the differences between the two systems both in theory and practice on the local level, as well as in the application of prevention efforts.

We will discuss changing ideas about “the field” in anthropological fieldwork, and new topics and sites for ethnographic research. We will also read and discuss excerpts from the fieldwork accounts.


This course offers intensive training on several key ethnographic methods. Students will be required to attend daily lectures and complete a large series of practical exercises using the methods they learn about.

Our 2020 3 Week Ethnographic Methods Practicum Session includes the Whale Shark - Giant Manta Excursion with On Isla Mujeres.


Most Practicum students will act as a *research assistant* for an Advanced Methods student research project. The Practicum students can choose one or two projects to assist on, or they can simply practice their ethnographic skills in a more general guided way using the assignments we have already established. 






  • Learn key concepts through which anthropologists conduct fieldwork to compare similarities and differences in human societies. 


  • Be able to carry out research by participant observation as well as other ethnographic methodological techniques, such as open ended and directed interviewing.


  • Understand the code of ethics that guides the profession and how human subjects are protected in ethnographic research.


  • Understand how to design and carry out an ethnographic research project and to analyze the results of the research.


  • Be able to communicate knowledge gained about ethnographic methods and about the results of your ethnographic research project.


  • Be able to put their research findings into action through culturally sensitive and specific community outreach.






By the end of this course, through in-class discussions ,interactions and student presentations, students will demonstrate:



  • Knowledge of the key concepts of ethnography both as a comparative method for collecting research data and as a scholarly product of anthropological fieldwork.



  • Knowledge of how ethics and human subjects protection apply to ethnographic research.



  • Ability to conduct ethnographic research using a variety of key methods (including recording field notes and other field data), and to analyze the results of that research.





All students must complete an on-line Human Subjects Protection Certificate prior to attending the IFS Field School.


Attendance is absolutely essential. Come to class prepared to participate. Complete the assigned readings before class, engage in classroom discussions and group activities.


Bring all assigned readings to class on the day they are to be discussed. [15 points]


Field Note Development [10 points]


Vignette Development [10 points]


Practicum Exercises [50 points]


Final Practicum and Presentation [15 points]

Note: Family members and friends are not welcome to stay at Ma Elena Hotel - student lodging during the course.  The Field School is an independent learning exercise and it is suggested visitors travel to the island after the student's academic course is fully complete.






Students will be committed to a minimum of 40 hours of lectures and practical exercises per week.


The IFS suggested credit value of the Methods Practicum Session is 3 credits as a Methods Course.


Acceptance and assignment of these credits must be arranged through the IFS Accreditation Program noted above or the student's university.


The Tuition Deadline the 3 Week Practicum Session One is May 12 2021.

Each 3 week Methods Practicum Session costs $2,875 per student and includes ethnographic methods training, lodging at Ma Elena hotel, as well as some field excursions including Whale Sharks.


Please Contact us at to arrange for payment options.


Tuition does not include your transportation (flights, taxis and ferry ride to the island).


Our basic housing for the field school is at Maria Elena Hotel and is included in student tuition costs. Double occupancy rooms are available at a reduced rate (contact us for details).


Practicum students (3 weeks) are eligible for 3 credit hours.  Please contact Dr, Pierce at for more information regarding academic credit for Isla Mujeres Ethnographic Field School studies.  Additional fees apply.






If you apply and are accepted to join the field school -- pay your tuition in full by April 12 and receive a $250 Tuition Discount




COVID-19 PCR tests are required of all students both pre and post-travel. Private testing will be arranged for you once you arrive on island with our local MD, as well as prior to return travel to the United States or Canada. Students are required to follow local masking and social distancing recommendations at all times.





Each IFS student will be responsible for bringing the equipment they will need for the field school:.



  • Field Research Bag (small backpack, soft shoulder briefcase or courier bag)



  • Laptop Computer (with working WiFi modem)



  • Scratch Note Pads



  • Camera (video camera / unerwater camera optional, but encouraged)    



  •  Audio Recording Device                 



  • Local Cell Phone (this can be obtained during orientation (Price: $30 USD)




Spending Money


Student’s lodging (food is not included) is covered in the cost of IFS Tuition, but you will want to venture out to enjoy all that Isla Mujeres offers -- there are a lot of great restaurants on the island.  When not doing field research, attending lectures or writing up field notes, we suspect you might want to enjoy the stunning beaches and energetic nightlife here on the island.



We suggest that you plan on having about $1,500 USD or more in spending money in reserve for the 8 Week Advanced Methods Courses and $750 USD or more available for the 3 Week Practicum Courses.  



You will trade your home-country currency in for pesos when you arrive, or withdraw as pesos from an ATM.







Typical Dinner Out =~ $20 US


Typical Lunch Out =~ $7 US


Delicious Taco in The Colonias =~ .80 US


Cup of Coffee in Centro =~ $2 US


Golf Cart Rental for One Day =~ $50 US


Moto Rental for One Day =~ $30 US


Taxi to and from Airport =~ $100 US (expect $65 coming to Isla, $30 going back)


Ultramar Ferry from Cancun =~ $14 US Round Trip


Local Island Taxi =~ Roughly $2 to $7 US


Coca Cola from a Tienda =~ $1 US


Typical Beer =~ $3 US at a bar


Custom Made Pinata =~ $30 US