Andean Roots: Linguistics and Ecological Agriculture in Peru

Winter 2018
OlympiaStudy Abroad
Olympia +
study abroad option
Class Size: 50
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

linguistics, mathematics
Steve Scheuerell
ecology, botany, plant pathology

The program will use linguistics and ecological agriculture as primary lenses for understanding cultural ecology, history, geography, and sustainability studies in the Andean region of Peru. Most enrolled students will be in Peru for at least 5 weeks of the quarter, with the possibility of up to 10 weeks of study abroad for advanced students. Students who completed the Fall 2017 program Andean Roots may also opt to do other independent project work during Weeks 6-10, without traveling to Peru. Studies in Olympia prior to travel will focus on gaining background in Peruvian linguistics, agriculture, history, and culture, as well as community-based tourism, travel writing, and ethnography. Study in Peru will be centered in the highlands of Cusco. As the former Incan capital, and home to vibrant cultures and immense agricultural diversity, the Cusco region of Peru offers immersion in the study of biocultural diversity and how the preservation of linguistic diversity is related to the preservation of traditional ecological knowledge, biodiversity, and local food systems. We will ask how knowledge is transferred across generations and between communities, and how traditional lifeways can be supported in the face of development pressure. Students who elect to do independent projects without traveling to Peru will develop topics related to these same program themes, subject to faculty approval.

Faculty and most students will spend Weeks 1-5 of the quarter in Olympia, and Weeks 6-10 in Peru. However, advanced students whose academic preparation and learning goals allow for a more extensive international experience may opt to spend the entire quarter in Peru, with up to 5 weeks of individual studies (e.g., intensive language learning or individual research) prior to joining up with faculty and other students in Week 6. From Weeks 6-10 all study abroad students will be in Peru, and learning activities will be a combination of Spanish or Quechua language study, community immersion, rural and urban homestays, and faculty-led field research projects to gain depth in linguistics and/or agroecology and agricultural biodiversity conservation. Experiencing life in agrarian communities and participating in community-based projects to preserve cultural landscapes and indigenous knowledge systems will give context to our analysis of development pressure and societal shifts in language and agricultural practices.

Study abroad:

Study abroad students will spend at least 5 weeks, from Week 6 to Week 10, traveling to the region of Cusco, Peru; spending significant time in the Urubamba Valley, the city of Cusco, and surrounding rural areas; and participating in language school, homestays, and project work. Students with adequate preparation for independent international work may opt to travel earlier in the quarter, for up to 10 weeks of study abroad.  The study abroad application will ask students to outline their learning goals, preparation, and interest in this extended travel option.  Total estimated cost of the study abroad is approximately $3,400-$4,800 depending on length of travel, travel preparation needs and international travel expenses. Part of this cost ($800) will be assessed as a student fee (for group expenses such as language school, group lodging and land transport, some site visits, etc.) and the remainder will be managed by individual students for international airfare, individual living expenses including most meals and some lodging, vaccines, etc. A $200 deposit will be due by Friday of Week 10, fall quarter. This $200 deposit will be applied towards the $800 student fee. For details on study abroad, visit  or contact Michael Clifthorne at .

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

cultural studies, Spanish, sustainable development, linguistics, agriculture and food systems, and education


Credits per quarter


This program requires faculty signature to enroll and study-abroad students will need to pay a study abroad deposit to be paid by Friday of Week 10 of fall quarter. During Week 10 of fall quarter there will be mandatory meetings to prepare students for study abroad and complete pre-departure paperwork.

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

Upper division science credit:

Students prepared for advanced science work will earn a total of 8 upper-division credits in agroecology field research and ecological agriculture for successfully completing all program work.

Research Opportunities:

During our winter quarter study abroad, students will participate in faculty-led research projects to gain depth in linguistics and/or agroecology and agricultural biodiversity conservation.

Class Standing: Sophomore–Senior
Class Size: 50

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

2017-12-05Description updated to support students who are not planning to travel abroad.
2017-11-21Deadline for application extended to week 9 and deadline for deposit extended to week 10.
2017-05-16Description has been updated.