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Ruins in Belize

Belize - Natural History

BIO391 Natural History of Belize


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. The GEO will notify students when they are able to register.


Program costs include tuition, site fees, meals and lodgings, travel related to the program, roundtrip airfare to and from Boston Logan airport, and non-refundable deposit. The total cost will be approximately $3,500-$3,900.

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 
  • 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