Image of a Mayan stone temple partially concealed by a vibrant green rainforest against a cloudy but blue sky (Structure 2 at Calakmul)

Maya Archaeology and Ecology

Meet Maya history and culture face-to-face!

The Maya Archaeology and Ecology program offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of rainforest ecology and Maya cultural heritage. Students participate in a unique field research program which is integrated with the Yaxnohcah Archaeological Project, located in the Calakmul Biosphere, a protected area of pristine rainforest in Mexico.

During your 14 days in the field, you will conduct on-site research with teams of investigators from Canada, Mexico, and the USA. This trip offers the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology as the researchers digitally record tangible archaeological heritage and integrate remote sensing technologies with on-the-ground investigations of the rainforest ecosystem.

Key information




Spring 2023

Program type

Group Study

Application information

Application status



Application deadline

The program is officially full, however, students are welcome to apply & join the waiting list.

Eligibility requirements

This program is open to students from all majors. See the Eligibility section below for more details.

Info sessions

October 27 at 3:30 PM 

Location: Earth Sciences room 614

Or join on Zoom: click here to register!

Student experience

Group photo from Calakmul, 2022. Click on the image to watch a short video made by one of the students!

Taylor R.

Have questions?

For program information, please contact Dr. Kathryn Reese-Taylor at

For application and registration support, please contact the Group Study Team at

Other useful links:

Program details

Questions about these courses should be directed to the program instructor.

Please note: course descriptions are tentative and subject to change.

  1. Courses offered

    Students on this program are required to enroll in two courses and may take up to three, if desired.


    Students must take one (or two) of:

    ARKY 347: Regional Studies in Latin America (3 units)

    ANTH 523: Human Ecology (3 units)


    And one (or two) of: 

    ANTH 400: Independent Research Topic on Contemporary Maya (3 units)

    ARKY 597: Independent Reading Course (3 units)

    DEST 501: Directed Research in Development Studies, Sustainability in Mexico (3 units)

    LAST 501: Directed Study in Latin American Studies, Advanced Mayan Studies (3 units)

  2. Prerequisites

    The prerequisite for registration in all of the courses offered on this program is by consent of the instructor.

  1. Pre-departure

    March 2, 4:30-6:30 pm, Calgary: Mandatory Travel Clinic. Location and further details will be sent directly to program participants.

    March (date TBD), Calgary: Mandatory Group Wilderness First Aid workshop.

    March (date TBD), Calgary: Mandatory pre-departure orientation facilitated by UCalgary International

    April 26, online: Lectures will be posted to complete at your own pace in preparation for ARKY 347 & ANTH 523. A short introductory meeting might also be scheduled in April (TBD). The online lectures will be available until June 23.

    May 1, Calgary: Mandatory coursework to be completed at the University of Calgary (lectures/discussion for ARKY 347 & ANTH 523; student meetings for LAST 303, ANTH 400 & ARKY 597). Full day, 9-12 am and 1-4 pm.

    May 2, Calgary: Mandatory coursework to be completed at the University of Calgary (lectures/discussion for ARKY 347 & ANTH 523; student meetings for DEST 501 & LAST 501). Full day, 9-12 am and 1-4 pm.


  2. In-field

    May 3 – 4, Calgary/Cancun/Chetumal: Depart Calgary, arrive at Cancun airport; travel to Chetumal

    May 5, Chetumal: Travel from Chetumal to field site location in Villahermosa; class discussion

    May 6 – 11, Villahermosa: Field activities in Villahermosa biosphere

    May 12, Xpujil: Depart Villahermosa, arrive at Chicanna Ecolodge in Xpujil; tour Calakmul; class discussion

    May 13, Lake Bacalar: Travel to Lake Bacalar; tour Becan and Kohunlich; class discussion

    May 14, Lake Bacalar: Tour Dzibanche; class discussion

    May 15, Valladolid: Travel to Valladolid; tour historical Valladolid

    May 16, Valladolid: Tour Chichén Itzá and Yaxuna cenote & interpretive community center

    May 17, Cancun/Calgary: Travel to Cancun for departure flight to Calgary (or continue on independent travel)

  3. Post-field

    Some final assignments may be due online following the program (TBD). 

  1. Costs

    The estimated cost of the Maya Archaeology and Ecology Group Study Program includes tuition, airfare, field trips, local transportation, accommodations and meals. The program cost is $7,056.

    For the full cost breakdown and payment deadlines, please see the Student Cost Summary (click here).

    Important information regarding deposit payments: Deposits are non-refundable. Deposits secure your space in the program and allows payment for logistical arrangements to be made in advance.

  2. Funding

    International Study Travel Grant: Students studying abroad may be eligible for the University of Calgary's International Study Travel Grant. For more information on eligibility, application details and deadlines please click here.

    Faculty of Arts Group Study Program (GSP) Scholarships (for GSP participants) and Faculty of Arts Student Study Abroad Scholarships (for other international programs) - up to 10 awards of $1000 each! For more information, please click here.

    IDEAS Funding: Students in the Faculty of Science are encouraged to apply for IDEAS funding. For more information, please click here.

    Historically Underrepresented Groups Scholarships (HUGS): Awarded by the Society for American Archaeology. Scholarships of up to $3000 are offered to undergraduate students in Archaeology from historically underrepresented minority groups. The next application round opens October 1, 2022. For more information, please click here. Note that separate funding is also available for Native American students.

    Student loans: If you qualify for student loans, your program should qualify. We are able to provide you with a letter confirming your participation in the program for funding purposes. Please email to request a letter. Please note that eligibility for student loans is determined by your loans provider.

    Click here for more info on funding opportunities!

For the first week of the program, you will be camping (more like glamping!) at the Villahermosa Research Station. Two students are assigned to each 10' x 12' x 6' cabin tent. Air mattresses, sheets, and pillows are provided. There are showers, latrines, and a communal building with a full kitchen, dining room, and lab facilities. There's also a large volleyball court to de-stress! This is a remote area free from light pollution with excellent stargazing.

For the second week of the program, you will stay in hotels as you visit different villages and archaeological sites. Most hotels will have two or three students per room.

This program is open to undergraduate students in good academic standing from all faculties.

Applications will be considered after your online application and supplementary documents have been received in full.

Please read the sections below for information about what your application will include. The application is completed online. Because the online application will time out after 1 hour, we recommend writing out your answers to the application questions in a Word document and preparing any of the supplementary documents you may need in advance.

Once you are ready, click here to access the application system.

Announcements on whether you have been selected to the program will not be distributed until after the November 15 deadline.

  1. Statement of Purpose

    Please tell us why you want to study abroad, why you have selected this particular program (academic reasons, personal interest, career prospects, etc.), how this program will meet your academic objectives and/or complement your degree, how you plan to finance your program, and why you should be selected.

    The word limit for this question is 500 words. Check for spelling, grammar, and word count before submitting your application.

  2. Course List

    Because this program offers multiple courses, you will be asked to list the courses you would like to take. You are required to take 2 courses and may take 3, if desired. Please review the "Academic information" section above to see the offered courses. 

    Note: After Dr. Reese-Taylor has reviewed your application, she may contact you to request a follow-up conversation regarding your course selection.

  3. Unofficial Transcript

    Download an unofficial transcript from your Student Centre. Click here for a step-by-step guide to access your unofficial transcript.

    You will be asked to upload your transcript as a PDF in the online application.

Please ensure that you have read the Group Study Program General FAQs thoroughly before applying.


Program-Specific FAQs

Q: Do I need to have an Archaeology background to qualify for this program?
A: No, this program welcomes students from all majors! Many of the topics covered (like cultural heritage and forestry surveys) have interest beyond archaeology, and your participation at the Yaxnohcah Archaeological Project will help you develop research skills valuable in any field. Having a different academic background will give you a unique perspective on this field program. 

Q: Is there any required equipment I should be aware of?
A: Your work on this program will include using a digital imaging system and 3D modelling; it is recommended to bring a smartphone or digital camera with you, as well as a cable, for direct download of pictures to the computer. Other equipment will be discussed by the instructor at your predeparture meeting.

I think the greatest experience was simply learning outside of the classroom, and being exposed to the sites, structures, people, towns and cities made the environments that we were learning about more tangible and real.

Anonymous (Arts - Archaeology)

Past Participant

Go with Kathryn! She is so knowledgeable and has built a team full of passionate archaeologists who inspired me like never before. It was an honour to be a part of this group.

Tyra (Arts - Biological Anthropology)

Past Participant

The advisor for this program is: Kathryn Bauer

Getting started

Program-Specific Info Sessions

Info sessions are scheduled for every Group Study Program. Attending an info session is not required to apply, but strongly recommended as it will give you an opportunity to meet the instructor and learn more about the travel experience.

We also recommend watching Global Learning 101 for general information.

Watch Global Learning 101

Global Learning Advising

If you have questions about this program, you can meet with one of our Global Learning Advisors by emailing or booking an appointment through the link below.

1. Select "Advising"
2. Select “Study Abroad”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Select your program advisor to view available times.

Book an appointment

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how a Group Study Program might align with your degree.

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular global learning program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Global Learning Advisors will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

If you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Global Learning Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.

Please note: All participants must adhere to COVID-19 and other vaccination-related requirements for the destinations visited on this program. Failure to do so may have consequences such as being denied access to accommodation/housing, program activities, or to the host country itself.