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Western Kentucky University

Programs : Brochure
*KIIS: Maya Mexico Winter
Calakmul, Mexico; Campeche, Mexico; Cancun, Mexico; Merida, Mexico; Tulum, Mexico (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Winter
Homepage: Click to visit
Program Cost: Winter
Program Dates:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Winter 2016 11/01/2015 ** Rolling Admission 12/26/2015 01/06/2016

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
Fact Sheet:
Number of Credits:
Field of Study:
Minimum GPA:
3.2 Program Catagory: WKU Partner Program
Faculty Leader:
Dizgun, John
Program Description:

Maya Mexico Winter

Open to Honors and non-Honors students with a 3.2 GPAMaya Mexico Capture and above, this two-week Winter program introduces participants to the splendor of Mayan civilization and an array of present-day challenges facing the millions of people of Mayan descent who reside in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Students gain an appreciation of the agricultural, mathematical, political, religious, and cultural achievements of the historic Maya at Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Calakmul, and Tulum; at the same time, they grapple with the contemporary dynamics of regional and national identity, tourism and development, and social, political, and environmental change.

We visit the ancient Mayan sites above, as well as vibrant and festive Merida (capital city of the Yucatan), quaint and colorful Campeche (a UNESCO World Heritage City), and the Caribbean beach town of Tulum.

Students will have free time each day to enhance their learning experience. No Spanish is required (all instruction is in English).

Academic Program
Interdisciplinary in nature, the KIIS Maya Mexico Winter program employs a Place-as-Text approach, which makes use of five basic learning strategies: mapping, observing, listening, discussing, and reflecting. The goal is for students to take an active role in the direction of their learning. In small groups, students on the program will:

  •  Self-select course topics and readings that most interest them;
  •  Strive to become "student-experts" in their chosen field;
  •  Participate in small group excursions that (safely) place them in culturally and geographically uncomfortable situations;
  •  Lead class discussions and field questions on their chosen topic;
  •  Synthesize readings, observations, and class discussions in short papers.

In addition to acquiring knowledge of Mayan society (past and present), students learn to work effectively in small groups, improve their oral presentation and analytical skills, and develop a heightened sense of confidence and leadership. On average, there are 3.5 hours of instruction per day, in the form of excursions, seminars, and debriefings, for a total of 38.5 contact hours.


"Maya Mexico, Past & Present" (3 credit hours in HONORS, ANTH, ART or HIST)

For course descriptions, click here.

In addition to the courses listed above, each KIIS summer and winter program offers the following practicum opportunity which is only open to graduate students and undergraduate seniors:

LEAD 475 Leadership Studies: KIIS Leadership Practicum (Internship - 3 hours)
The Assistant to the KIIS Program Director Internship enables students to shadow a Summer or Winter KIIS program director and is open to graduate students and undergraduate seniors. Previous interns have assisted with pre-departure and on-site orientations, helping to coordinate on-site excursions, residence life duties, teaching assistant duties, accounting and administration, risk management, updating program social media sites, program assessment, and assisting with communication between students and faculty. Interns keep a journal (observation and analysis, duties performed and so on). If interested, please contact the KIIS office before submitting a KIIS application.


The KIIS Maya Mexico Winter program is based in the breathtaking Yucatan Peninsula. We stay in Valladolid (1 night), Merida (4 nights), Campeche (2 nights), Calakmul (2 nights), and Tulum (2 nights). Students stay in double, triple, or quad occupancy hotel rooms in the center of town. All hotels are comfortable and include a private bathroom, WiFi access, and other amenities. Inexpensive laundry facilities ('drop-off/pick-up') are located in Merida, Campeche, and Tulum.

Group transportation will be in a private, air-conditioned bus with a licensed and insured driver. The highway system in the Yucatan Peninsula is good and efficient. The distance from Merida to Campeche is two hours; Campeche to Calakmul, 4 hours; Calakmul to Tulum, 4 hours; and Tulum to Cancun, 2 hours. From Merida, we will also make day trips to the Mayan sites of Chichen Itza and Uxmal, and to the natural swimming pool (optional) of Ik-Kil.