Belize - Natural History

BIO371 Natural History of Belize

Dates: December 28, 2015-January 11, 2016


Understanding natural history is a critical endeavor in our degraded world. This seminar in the Natural History of Belize  takes up the challenge what it means to take seriously our role as leaders to preserve biodiversity in God’s creation.

Participants will gain knowledge about the biological aspects of population declines and habitat associations of species characteristic of the mountains, coastlines, and coral reefs of Belize, and the related social, economic, and religious perspectives of biodiversity conservation. We will spend a considerable amount of time investigating biodiversity of the region, placing emphasis on perspectives of people of Garifuna, Latino, Creole, and Mayan heritages.

Prerequisite: BIO250 Plants, Ecology, and Evolution or BIO222 Environmental Science or permission of instructor. 


Belize covers an area of incredible natural beauty, replacing our familiar northeastern species with plants and animals that are adapted to the lush rainforests, gallery forests, and extensive reefs of the tropics. Toucans, army ants, motmots, jaguars, howler monkeys, and kinkajous serve as evidence of God’s Works.

The first portion of the class at Jaguar Creek focuses on biodiversity and conservation issues in the Maya Mountains.The seminar will meet with a local Christian NGO (Pathlight) which focuses on terrestrial conservation and participate in an ongoing research project.

The second portion focuses on ecology and conservation of marine systems in coastal areas of the Dangriga region of the country.

Finally, the seminar returns to Jaguar Creek and works with Pathlight to discuss on-site conservation applications. 


This seminar enables participants to see diversity in culture, and also in environments, life forms, animals and plants. More importantly, as we explore new areas in nature, we will be able to make connections between stewardship, biodiversity, and cultural backgrounds and explore different cultural approaches to managing biodiversity and caring for creation.

This course will be taught through a combination of lecture, discussion, and field work. Consequently, students are expected to actively participate in the development and direction of this course. Students are expected to come to class fully prepared, to ask questions, to introduce ideas and topics for discussion, and to participate in discussions.

  • guest and faculty lectures
  • discussion (including student-led discussions)
  • assigned readings
  • two short papers
  • journal
  • field identification tests

BIO291 requires three evening classes prior to Christmas break and one after the seminar. Each session is three hours. Prior to departure students will begin to explore a topic for their lecture. Upon return, students will present their paper on their species of concern to the rest of the class in PowerPoint format.

Accepted students will be asked to register electronically with the GEO. After accepted students have paid their deposit to the GEO, the GEO will send a list of the seminar participants to the Registrar’s office.

Students wishing to fulfill Global Understanding core through participation in the Belize Seminar must:

  • Participate in COR210 New Perspectives in Crossing Cultures 1 (0-credit) in NOVEMBER pre-departure. Lab fees apply.
  • Participate in COR211 New Perspectives in Crossing Cultures 2 (0-credit) in JANUARY/FEBRUARY post-seminar. Lab fees apply.

Please respond to emails from the GEO about registration for COR210 and 211. Both COR210 and 211 are one-day Saturday classes.

Contact GEO for further details. 


Program costs include: tuition, site fees, meals and lodgings, travel related to program, roundtrip airfare to and from Boston Logan airport, and non-refundable deposit. The total cost will be approximately $3,800.

NB: Final costs will be determined based on the number of student participants, final flight costs, etc. Students will be responsible for any extra travel outside of course assignments. 


Applications will be considered for acceptance in the order received.

  • Complete online application (link available to Gordon students only)
  • Contact Prof. Keller about your interest in the seminar
  • Submit applications no later than MAY 1, 2015
  • Submit a non-refundable $30 application fee

Upon acceptance, a $450 non-refundable deposit is required to confirm acceptance. 


For further information contact:
The Global Education Office
P 978 867 4399

Prof. Greg Keller
Associate Professor of Conservation Biology

Online International Seminar Application

This application requests information that will be used to evaluate your eligibiity for an off-campus seminar program. Off-campus programs administered through Gordon are not entitlement programs. Gordon College reserves the right to admit students based on proven academic performance, moral maturity and personal motivation. For this reason, the essay portion of this application is especially important. We ask for you thoughtful consideration of those questions.

Please fill out the application form below with your information. Email or call 978-867-4399 if you have any questions.

Please check your seminar's homepage for the application deadline. A non-refundable $30 deposit must be submitted to the Global Education Office by that deadline.

1. Date of Application:

2. Seminar Program:

3. GORDON STUDENTS ONLY: Do you wish to use this off-campus semester to fulfill Global Understanding Core? (Make sure that your selected program qualifies.)

Yes. I will register for COR210 New Perspectives 1 (pre-departure) and COR211 New Perspectives 2 (re-entry) sessions.
No-BUT. Although I am fulfilling the Global Understanding Core in other ways, I DO want to attend the New Perspectives sessions.
No. I am fulfilling the Global Understanding Core in other ways and do NOT wish to attend New Perspectives sessions.
No. My seminar does not qualify for Global Understanding.

4. Seminar Term:


5. Last Name:

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7. Middle Name:

8. Gordon College ID # or Name of Home College/University if non-Gordon student:

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10. Date of Birth:

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13. Valid Passport:

Not necessary for my program

14. If yes, what is the expiration date on your passport?

15. Full Name exactly as it appears on passport:

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23. Emergency Contact (if other than parent/guardian) -- Last Name, First Name, Phone and Address:

24. Gordon internal scholarship aid does not apply to International Seminars. Please check with your Financial Aid Office to determine eligibility status should you be accepted into an off-campus program.

I receive Financial Aid and will meet with my Financial Aid Officer to determine which forms of financial aid are transferable to this program.
I am not currently receiving any forms of financial aid.

25. Some seminars include activities that require moderate to challenging physical exertion. Do you have any chronic physical conditions that require regular medical attention or that may be relevant for consideration in a program that requires physical activity such as walking, hiking, caving, etc.? If so, please explain.

26. Do you have allergies to foods, plants, etc.? Are there any prescription or non-prescription medications that you take regularly that you would anticipate needing while you are attending this program?

27. Do you have any learning disabilities you would like the program faculty to be aware of? If so, what?

28. Current Class Level:


29. Expected Graduation Date:

30. Major Field of Study 1:

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35. Faculty Reference (last and first name of faculty whom we can contact regarding your application):

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37. Student Affairs Reference: (last and first name of staff member in CSD or an RD, not an RA)

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39. Current GPA (Grade Point Average ) as of most recently completed semester:

40. What is your motivation for participating in the program for which you are applying? How does the program meet your academic, personal and/or professional goals? (250 word minimum)

41. What in your past experience (international, educational or other) has prepared you for success in this program? What qualities or strengths do you possess that will contribute to your success in the program? (250 word minimum)

42. In the context of your own personal journey of faith, reflect upon your willingness to engage culturally diverse expressions of Christianity and other religions. What is your experience with such engagement? (250 word minimum)

43. The seminar for which you are applying is structured with conditions of greater personal freedom than is normally the case in a Christian college environment. How are you likely to respond to this greater freedom? (250 word minimum)