Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation
Questions about these courses should be directed to the program instructor.
Please note: course descriptions are tentative and subject to change.
Students on this program are required to enroll in three courses:
ANTH 505: Conference Course: Panama Primatology Research Proposal (3 units)
ANTH 552: Field Studies in Primatology (6 units)
All course offerings require ANTH 311 and consent of the program instructor.
November (date TBD), Calgary: Welcome meeting for accepted students
March (date TBD), Calgary: Mandatory pre-departure orientation facilitated by UCalgary International
March (date TBD), Calgary: Mandatory Group First Aid training and Travel Clinic
May 1 – 4, Calgary: Mandatory classroom block week & field preparation; full days starting at 9 a.m.
May 5, Calgary/Panama City: Travel to Panama City; evening tour of Casco Viejo
May 6, Isla Colón: Travel to Isla Colón; orientation at the Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (ITEC) and evening discussion
May 7 – 18, Isla Colón: Fieldwork at ITEC; alternating days will include evening discussions
May 19, Isla Carenero: Transfer from ITEC to the Cosmic Crab Resort
May 20 – 22, Isla Carenero: Coursework & presentations (full days 8:30-4:30)
May 23, Panama City: Transfer to Panama City; group meeting
May 24, Panama City: Visit the Biomuseo; Ancon Hill hike
May 25, Colon: Day trip to Colon. Drive along canal, tour Colon, stop at the Agua Clara Locks visitor centre; return to Panama City before dark
May 26, Panama City/Calgary: Return to Calgary (or continue on independent travel)
June (date TBD): ANTH 505 research proposal will be due following the program
The estimated cost of the Panama Primatology Group Study Program includes tuition for 12 units (2 half courses + 1 full course), airfare, field trips, local transportation, accommodations, and meals. The program cost is $9,173.
For the full cost breakdown and payment deadlines, please see the program 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.
Our office administers several awards, including the Global Access Fund (based on a funding-first model where students apply prior to committing to a global learning program) and the Global Learning Award (students apply after being accepted to a global learning program; the amount varies year-to-year as the money is split among chosen recipients). Students may only receive these awards once. Please see the funding page, linked here, for more information.
Faculty of Science IDEAS Fund: All undergraduate students who are in good standing and enrolled in programs offered by the Faculty of Science are eligible to apply for financial support from the IDEAS Fund. Find out more here.
Faculty of Arts Group Study Program Scholarships - up to 10 awards of $1000 each! For more information, please click here.
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 email@example.com to request a letter. Please note that eligibility for student loans is determined by your loans provider.
At the start and end of the program in Panama City and Isla Caranero, your accommodations will be at hotels with 2-4 students per room. There likely will not be kitchen facilities available so you will be obtaining your own meals during this time, e.g. local restaurants and street vendors.
During the fieldwork component, which is the majority of the program, you will be staying at the Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation on Isla Colón in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. The ITEC dormitory holds 3-4 students per room. We anticipate that each student will have their own bunk bed (so that you have one bunk for sleeping and another to store your belongings). There are several private bathrooms at the dormitory for residents to use.
ITEC has kitchen/dining facilities and you will be provided with 3 meals per day with both meat and vegetarian options. The kitchen is able to accommodate some dietary restrictions and allergies, but is not able to accommodate preferences. Please contact our office in advance to discuss any dietary concerns.
More information about what to expect (accommodations layout, the meals typically provided, etc.) can be viewed online here.
Please be aware that the conditions at ITEC are very rustic. The site is well-established and safe, however you will be in close contact with wildlife, insects, and each other (minimal privacy). There is no WiFi and restricted electricity. Water availability depends on rainfall and showering may be restricted to one 3-minute shower per day. We will discuss this in depth and make sure you are well-prepared before you travel, but if you have any concerns or questions, you are welcome to contact the instructors.
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 12 deadline.
Written application questions
All Group Study Programs have general questions about how the program will meet your goals (academic reasons, personal interest, career prospects, etc.), how you plan to finance your program, and coping skills for travelling abroad. These questions are designed to help narrow down your motivation for applying and why you should be selected.
Note: Because the online application will time out after one hour, we recommend that you "save" your application, copy the questions into a Word document to compose your answers, check for spelling, grammar and word count, and then paste it into the online application.
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.
Q: Is Panama safe?
A: Yes, Panama is a safe country to travel and work in. English is spoken at the ITEC field site, and also commonly used in Panama City. Of course, there are always precautions that should be taken whenever one travels in a foreign country, especially when in more isolated or "non-touristy" regions. We will discuss these precautions before we go.
Q: What kind of food will be available?
A: Some meals will be purchased on your own (e.g. while in Panama City). However, during your fieldwork at ITEC, you will receive 3 meals per day. Meals are served buffet-style and follow a traditional Panamanian cuisine. Vegetarian options are offered as well. If you have any dietary concerns, please contact the Group Study Programs team at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss whether this program will be able to accommodate you.
Advice from past students
"As someone who has managed anxiety for my entire life through the development of routines and support systems here in Canada, it was very difficult to walk away from that and put myself in a completely new situation with new people and no established routine. As the program progressed, our whole group experienced mental & physical exhaustion from the rigours of fieldwork, and I was shocked by how supportive and kind everyone was. We became so close so fast and were so open with our needs that I truly felt like we became a family by the end. So, the resolution to my biggest challenge in the field was also one of the biggest highlights of my trip. In terms of advice for future students, opening yourself up to your classmates and relying on each other for support and reassurance is absolutely essential to your success in this program. Also, set realistic expectations of what the trip will look like in terms of free-time and 'vacationing', and accept that programs like this need to be tackled one day at a time. It was hard, but it is so worth it if you fully commit to the experience."
This program was the best decision I have ever made! It allowed me to experience my future career in a safe way to help me determine that it is the career I want to pursue [...] After meeting amazing people, eating great food and seeing animals that are not familiar on a daily basis, it made coming back home a challenge as I felt like I could have stayed there forever! Travelling abroad also opened my eyes to more of the world and the struggles that people face. Learning about the history and culture of an area is a great way to gain a better understanding of global issues and also a great way to see the kindness that people are capable of.
Kayleigh, Anthropology major
Participant on 2023 Panama Primatology program