Quick Info

  • Andes and Amazon Field School
  • Summer
  • : Panther Program
  • : Anthropology, Biology, Cultural Studies, English (including Literature, Writing, and Creative Writing), Environmental Studies, Less Commonly Taught Languages, Linguistics
  • : June 2, 2018 - July 27, 2018
  • : In-State: $9,800 ; Out-of-State: $10,000
  • : January 28, 2018
  • : 2.75 GPA (2.5 for engineers), Pitt Students: Must have completed 24 credits on a Pitt campus, Clear Judicial Record


You will earn 12 credits for participating in both sessions over the summer. You will enroll in two courses each month. Courses differ each session.  Coursework may count towards UCIS CLAS Certificate.

Need to fulfill a general education requirement?  We've got courses for that!  Take a look below:
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences:
This program satisfies the 3 foreign culture requirements.  It also fulfills the non-Western requirement.

June Session Courses:

This course will provide an introduction to the study of the health, population and nutrition concerns of indigenous peoples; provide an understanding of the health concerns of the Kichwa speaking people of the Ecuadoran Amazon and provide a grounding for research on the health of Amazonian peoples. It will be taught as a combination of lectures, discussion of readings, site/field visits, interviewing of key actors and analysis of primary materials derived from interviews and observations of Kichwa people, healers and patients.

This course introduces students to the arts of the Amazonian region in the context of their function and meaning. The course will be taught as a combination of lecture and hands-on experience working with Native potters from the Bobonaza River. Students will learn to make pottery in the Kichwa (Quichua) tradition, and to understand the role of pottery and material culture in the daily lives of people in this region. On a number of occasions, students will accompany the Native potters on journeys into the adjacent forest to gather materials and to study the patterns in nature that inspire them. Here students will observe related arts such as face paint patterns, beaded ornaments, ritual singing and storytelling. Carefully selected readings and lectures will use these arts as a window for exploring Amazonian thinking about the natural world behind the designs, and the ways in which the designs can be used to understand patterns of social interaction. Interviews with potters will aid in understanding these arts in the context of daily and ceremonial life. In the process, the arts become a doorway allowing the student to explore Amazonian culture and environment first hand. Comparative material from several other world regions will also be discussed.

July Session Courses:

All students will take two courses for (6-credits) in July, Students will choose 1 of 2 courses offered in the morning and all students will take the course in the afternoon session.

AM Class (choose 1 of the 2 following courses):

Pre-requisite: Students must have completed two semesters of General Biology. This 3-Credit course provides a solid foundation in tropical forest ecology.  It is designed to prepare students to carry out research on the interaction of plant and animal communities and to engage the serious challenges facing neotropical forests. Students will learn to compare pristine to altered forests identifying key factors in forest decline and regeneration.  Students will examine each of the diverse elevational zones that comprise the Amazonian watershed.  The highlight will be a visit to Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park, an untouched area of the Amazon with the highest bio-diversity on earth. *Counts towards the Biology Major*
 This 3-credit course examines the communication challenges and opportunities provided by the rise of social media in Ecuador's Amazon basin and engages participants in developing rich content for promotion and marketing of the region’s resources.  Within the last 5 years, social media and messenger apps have linked remote Amazonian populations to the rest of world. Previously isolated communities now post videos of illegal logging, speeches by their leaders, and dreams of their young people in real time. Together we will explore the global impact of these new social media users.  Course participants will learn to build stories that  promote the value of the Amazon's rich resources ranging from new energy drinks like guayusa, to cultural tourism.  These stories will be designed for dissemination through a wide range of media channels (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Periscope, Twitter, YouTube) and will include development of infographics, video and slide shows.  At the end of the course, students will have built a portfolio of content and tactics to share with their peers, faculty and local representatives as a tool for extending the remarkable stories and resources found in Amazonia. *No previous marketing coursework needed.

PM Class (required):

The course examines Amazonian cultural knowledge of water, weather, plant and animal life seeking to uncover underlying assumptions that constitute a systematic, if implicit, religious philosophy of nature.  It also teaches students how to ask key questions and to carry out qualitative ethnographic research in the Cultural Anthropology and the Humanities.  How do Amazonian people understand their relatedness to a natural world believed to be alive and human-like?  How do they understand the hidden social lives of plants and animals.  What is believed to cause new species to emerge or to become extinct? How are human emotions related to the seasonal cycle of rains?  How is plant and animal ecology believed to serve as a model for understanding human society and vice versa.  What aesthetic, emotional or religious practices were developed to create bonds of empathy or communication between human beings and the natural world.

On-Site Faculty And Staff

Tod Swanson, Associate Professor, Arizona State University, PhD University of Chicago, is the on-site director for the Pitt in Ecuador program.  He is a specialist in Amazonian culture and environment.   His areas of research includes indigenous relations to plant and animal species and Kichwa linguistics. Swanson manages the 1300 acre Iyarina Forest Preserve as an ongoing experiment in sustaining of fragmented Amazonian forest. In 1999 Swanson founded the Andes and Amazon Field School in his wife's home community on the Napo River.

In 1999 Swanson founded the Andes and Amazon Field School in his wife's home community on the Napo River. Swanson's administrative experience includes having directed Arizona State University's Center for Latin American Studies as a Title VI National Resource Center from 1997-2007.  He has also held elected office as a councilman for environmental affairs for the Santu Urku Amazonian Kichwa Community. Contact Tod Swanson.

June Session:

Dr. Kathleen Musante,  is a cultural anthropologist whose main research interests are in medical anthropology and the anthropology of food and nutrition. She draws on perspectives from both bio-cultural anthropology and political economy. Dr. Musante has interests in the health and nutrition impacts of economic and agricultural development policies in Latin America; child survival and adult health in developing countries; nutrition and health of older adults and youth in rural settings in the United States; and health decision making in pluralistic settings. She is a qualitative methodologist and a specialist in the use of participant observation in ethnographic research.She has carried out research in Mexico, Honduras, Brazil, Ecuador, and Kentucky.

Her current research examines the health and nutrition of indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and the impact of 20 years of income generating projects for women on the social power of women and the welfare of their children in Manabí Province, Ecuador.

July Session:

Dr. Walter Carson, Dr. Carson received his Ph. D. in 1993 with Richard Root at Cornell University, performed his postdoctoral studies with David Tilman at the University of Minnesota and Steve Hubbell at Princeton University, and joined the Department in 1994.
Professor Skip Glenn, has explored Ecuador as part of research and training done for El Museo de Ciencias Naturales in Quito and the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia. His field experience has taken him from Loja Province in the south to Carchi Province in the north. Having worked with the native Shuar and local scientists, he has a deep appreciation for the natural and cultural heritage of this great Andean nation.


You will be staying in spacious rooms that look out on the river and forest. Double or triple occupancy. Bathrooms in room with abundant hot water. High quality mattresses for a good rest. You will sleep to the sound of frogs, the river, and heavy rain on the roof. Wake to the sound of birds.

Three meals per day are provided for you in a dining room with an expansive view of the Napo River. A single menu du jour is served family style to all guests. Recipes include a mixture of Ecuadorian and American dishes with opportunities to savor Andean and Amazonian cuisine. Vegetarian meals are available. All meals are prepared with high standards of food safety.

Pricing And Dates

Both sessions of Pitt in Ecuador 2018

In-State Fee Out-of-State Fee
$9,800 $10,000
Arrive in Quito Depart Quito
June 2, 2018 July 27, 2018

*There is a week break in betwen sessions when the field school closes.  Students may elect to pay additionally to stay on-site during that week.  However, most students that are doing both sessions choose to use that week to travel and explore other parts of Ecuador.

Keep in mind that dates may change.  You shouldn't book airfare until given confirmation from your program manager.

Please Note: All students are required to attend the mandatory Pre-Departure Bash.  This afternoon long event will cover important topics relevant to study abroad like health, safety, security, and more.  Plus, it will give you the chance to meet other students studying abroad on your programs!  Alumni and staff will also be present to help you start thinking about your goals for the program.

The Pre-Departure Bash for this program will be on: February 10, 2018 at TBD in TBD. Your program manager will follow up with more information once you begin your application!


Inclusions & Exclusions

As a part of your Ecuador program  fee, the following are included in the program:

  • Tuition for twelve credits
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure (group transfer only)
  • Transportation from Quito to and from the Andes and Amazon Field School
  • Three family style meals a day while at AAFS
  • International travel health insurance
  • Cultural activities
  • Trip to Yasuni National Park

While your program fee will cover most of your expenses, keep in mind that you are also responsible for the following:

  • Pitt study abroad administrative fee $300
  • Roundtrip international airfare ~$1100
  • Additional meals and personal expenses ~$1000
  • Books ~$50
  • Vaccinations (~$400) - Please refer to the CDC's website for required and suggested vaccinnations for Ecuador
  • Passport fees (~$100)

Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad.  Visit our Budgeting page for more information.

Special Information

  • The field school is tucked in the rainforest along the Napo River.
  • Classrooms are held in open air rooms.
  • There will be bugs. 
  • Some classes will involve hiking in the forest for a few hours.  
  • The juice at breakfast is phenomenal

Ready to get started on your application?  

Program Staff

Tim Crawford

Walk-In Advising Hours: MWF 2-4 PM

Hi Everyone! I’m Tim, a Program Manager here in the Study Abroad Office. I’m proud to be from a small town in Central PA but now love calling Pittsburgh home. My study abroad experience includes a semester in France during my sophomore year, Spring Break in London during Grad School and Summer in Italy as a Program Assistant. My experiences opened my eyes to the rest of the world and I’d love to help you take advantage of the numerous study abroad opportunities here at Pitt. Outside of the office, I’m always looking for the next adventure whether it’s exploring a new city or new neighborhood in PGH. I fully embrace the yinzer way of life and plan my schedule accordingly around every Pens, Bucs and Stillers game. I’d love to talk to you more about any of our study abroad programs and answer any of your questions. Please reach me at TSC29@pitt.edu or 412-648-2156.