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  • Locations: South Water Caye, Belize
  • Program Terms: Global Seminar Wntr
  • Restrictions: SPU applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Program Sponsor: SPU Faculty-led Areas of Study: Biology
Program Type: Field Study Housing Type: Hostel/Hotel, Residence Hall
Minimum GPA: 2.5 Number of Credits: 5
Program Description:

Belize Banner

Tropical Biology in Belize

Winter 2020 Global Seminar  (December 2019)

Program Overview

Located on the eastern coastline of Central America on the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize is surrounded by Mexico to its north, Guatemala to its west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to its east. Today, it’s home to just over 300,000 people.The Belize Barrier Reef is the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, second in the world to only the Great Barrier Reef.This program gives students plenty of underwater classroom opportunities, which include snorkeling and scuba diving.

During the Belize Tropical Biology Global Seminar, students will experience intensive readings, lectures, discussions, field instruction, and observations, as well as research and service projects related to coral reefs and their associated organisms. Students will learn about the ecology of coral reefs; they will learn to identify common species, and  study their behavior and relationships. Additionally, students will learn something of terrestrial and human history in Belize — especially the ancient Mayan culture.

Please note that this program takes place every other year, following the odd numbered years.

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Students will earn 5-credits upon successful completion of this Global Seminar. Credits earned on this program will be applied to the winter quarter transcript and are part of regular winter quarter tuition. Students attending this program will earn 5 credits in Belize and upon returning for winter quarter, are eligible to take up to 13 more credits at the regular full time tuition rate.

Choose one course:

BIO 1101 - Biological Fundamentals (5 credits)
Intended for non-biology majors. This course is focused on fundamental biological principles. Emphasis varies quarterly: animal biology, biological diversity, marine biology, and others. Basic concepts include Mendelian genetics and evolutionary theory. Biological theories and laws are related to Christian perspectives.
Attributes: Natural Science A, WK Fundamental Science


BIO 1103 - Applications of Biology (5 credits)
Intended for non-biology majors. This course focuses on the application of biological principles to issues of human concern. Emphasis varies quarterly: Human biology, environmental biology, and others. Basic concepts include Mendelian genetics and evolutionary theory. Biological theories and laws are related to Christian perspectives.
Attributes: Natural Science A, WK Applied Science


BIO 3302 - Coral Reef Ecology (5 credits)
Prerequisites: BIO 2101 and 2103. This study abroad course examines the coral reef ecosystem, with a special emphasis on the coral animals, fish, and seaweeds found at the study site. The interactions among different species and between each and the physical environment are considered. Students learn through evening lectures as well as daytime observations, measurements and manipulative experiments.  Attributes:  Upper Division

Sample Program Dates 
(Dates for Decemer 2019 Global Seminar TBD)
December  7:  Finals end. Depart Seattle on late overnight flight
December 8:  Arrive Belize City. One night at Belize Tropical Education Center. Orientation, dinner, Nocturnal zoo tour 
December 9-20: Transfer by boat to South Water Caye and Long Caye for 11 days of snorkeling, lecturing and exploration
December 21: Transfer to back to Belize City (one night), visit Mayan ruins of Xunantunich enroute. 
December 22: Transfer to Belize City airport for afternoon flight home. 

*Please note that this program operates every other year during odd numbered years.

Housing and meals

On the first night of the program, students will be housed in dormitory-style accommodations at the Tropical Education Center in Belize City.  After transferring to South Water Caye, students will be housed in dormitories near the marine biology field station. Three meals a day are included in the cost of the program and are served at the IZE restaurant. There is a snack bar open during the day that students may purchase additional snacks, ice cream, and beverages. On the last night of the program, the group will be staying in a hotel in twin rooms.  Students should plan to bring cash for a few meals and snacks during transit and when not staying on South Water Caye. 

For more information on accommodations and meals, please see the IZE website.



Winter Quarter 2018 Program Fee: Credits:
$3,800 + $300 confirmation fee 5
A $50 application fee is required to apply for this program. Upon acceptance, a $300 confirmation fee will be due to confirm your place in the program. Both non-refundable fees can be made by credit card through this study abroad portal, or by check or cash. The program fee will be appliedto your student account by Student Academic Services and will be billed with the regular winter quarter tuition billing cycle.

Program Fee Includes:
  • Round trip airfare from Seattle to Belize City
  • Housing and most meals
  • Transportation in Belize: Bus and ferries
  • Entrance fees to required field trips
  • Medical insurance for the duration of the programNot Included in Program Fees:Tuition: 5 credits will be part of your normal winter quarter tuition load
  • Some meals and personal spending money (souvenirs, snacks, etc.) - varies, but recommend $150
  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance (recommended, but not required) - varies
  • Snorkeling Equipment (must be purchased prior to program if student doesn't already own equipment) - cost varies*Costs are estimated and may be adjusted in response to group size or unanticipated price changes or foreign currency fluctuations.

Students on the Belize Tropical Biology Global Seminar may be eligible for financial aid, including SPU scholarships and grants, state, and federal aid. Check with Student Financial Services to determine your exact aid eligibility before applying. 

Booking Flights



Tim Nelson Tim Nelson
Professor of Biology; Director of Blakely Island Field Station
Department: Biology                                                        
Phone: 206-281-3640

Office: Eaton 204

Dr. Nelson has worked in marine biology for more than 20 years. His research, teaching, and community service has revolved around issues of marine biology. “Learning biology in the field is more memorable than in a sterile lecture hall,” says Dr. Nelson. “When students are in Belize and see a wrasse cleaning station, or an eagle ray underwater, they discover tropical biology like never before. Nothing compares to seeing organisms in action on a reef.”
ERic Long Eric Long
Professor of Biology
Department: Biology                                                        
Phone: 206-378-5059
Office: Eaton 204

Dr. Long is a wildlife ecologist who studies the behavior, ecology, and conservation of vertebrates. He says, “The tropical biology trip to the Belize is a fantastic opportunity for students to observe and study organisms in their natural environment. Through hiking, snorkeling, and touring in Belize, students have a chance to explore, first-hand, the biology of this historically important and wonderfully diverse tropical ecosystem.”
For more information, contact the Study Abroad Office



This program is currently not accepting applications.