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A unique learning experience studying

Indigenous Peoples &

Environmental Conservation

in the Brazilian Amazon

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 to learn more

Photo: Laura Zanotti

Applications for 2018 are now open!

Join us this summer for a once in a lifetime experience living with the Kayapó of the southeastern Amazon basin, to learn more about their way of life and tropical forest conservation.​​
2018 Program Dates: July 15-August 5

Students meet in the city of Marabá for a course orientation before traveling to the frontier town of Tucumã. The course takes place in two locations, the Kayapó village of A’ukre and its nearby biological research station, Pinkaiti.  In A’ukre students work with Kayapó families, male and female leaders, and anthropology instructors to learn about some of the features of Kayapó social life, arts, and livelihoods.   In Pinkaiti, under the leadership of Kayapó instructors and tropical forest ecologists, students investigate forest management, tropical ecology, hunting and fishing techniques, and conservation biology.

Photo: Jon Meisner

The Amazon basin is the largest remaining tract of tropical rainforest in the world, and home to indigenous groups, riverine dwellers, rubber tappers, farmers, ranchers, and miners. New findings show that indigenous peoples serve to combat expansion into the Amazon rainforest by protecting the lands in which they live and on which they depend for their livelihoods. To further their efforts, indigenous and local communities are engaging in partnerships with outside entities, intended to increase their land rights and wellbeing. In this unique study abroad course, students have the opportunity to visit and learn about one of the model cases of partnering for conservation.

© Simone Giovine/AFP

Pinkaití Ecological Research Station, managed by the Kayapó, and within their territory, allows students to study wildlife and learn from both researchers and Kayapó about tropical ecology and indigenous environmental knowledge.  In a rare partnership with the village of A'ukre, the University of Maryland and Purdue University offer a summer study program for students to visit the Kayapó and be taught by them along with researchers.

© Simone Giovine/AFP

The Kayapó, an indigenous group who continue to practice hunting and horticulture, have effectively protected their lands through collaboration, political prowess, and technological advances. In 1989, they earned worldwide recognition for their precedent-setting victory in halting a large hydroelectric project that would have inundated their lands. Today, the Kayapó supplement their own monitoring of their territory with overflights and Landsat imaging made possible through their partnership with environmental NGOs. The Kayapó have protected a vast expanse of rainforest along the "arc of deforestation" in the southeastern Amazon.


Any further questions, please contact us here:

Who would be interested in this course?

We have had many students from different disciplines including anthropology, geography, philosophy, sustainability, biochemical engineering, international education, sociology, and architecture.

Are there any prerequisites needed to apply for the course or language proficiency?

There are no course prerequisites or language requirements. Some knowledge of Portuguese is helpful, but instructors also act as translators in the field.

Is this course only available to undergraduates at the Purdue and the University of Maryland? 


Undergraduate and graduate students from all universities are welcome! For example, some students have enrolled from Arizona State University, University of Regina, and the University of Vermont.​

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