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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:
Program Dates:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Winter 2019 10/01/2018 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** 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:
Credit Type:
WKU Credit
Field of Study:
Minimum GPA:
Program Catagory: WKU Partner Program
Faculty Leader:
Fulton, Chris, Mills, Alan, Petkus, Marie
Class Eligibility: 1. Freshman, 2. Sophomore, 3. Junior, 4. Senior
Program Description:

Maya Mexico Winter

Program Overview

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 the present-day challenges facing the people of Mayan descent who reside in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. 

Students gain an appreciation of the agricultural, 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 stunning Caribbean beach town of Tulum.

Students 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" (earn 3 credits in ANTHRO, ART, HISTORY or HONORS)
Click here to review the course syllabus.

ART 491 / EDU 400 / ECON 410 / HON 300 Topics: Maya Mexico, Past & Present (3 hours)
This course may be taken for credit in any of the following disciplines: Art (art history or studio), Education, Economics, or Honors, and is open to Honors, and non-Honors students with a 3.2 GPA and above. The course examines Maya society and culture in the historical past and living present. We visit archeological sites and learn about ancient Maya social systems, religious beliefs, artistic achievements and cultural practices. We also consider the modern Maya in urban and rural settings. Students contend with the contemporary dynamics of regional and national identity, tourism and economic development. We employ the "Place as Text" teaching methodology, which inserts students into social environments and fosters close observation of the local culture. Students are required to give oral reports, complete the course workbook, and record their observations in photography and video. The course is team-taught by three professors who bring their disciplinary perspectives to bear on common questions and concerns. In addition to acquiring knowledge of Maya society and culture, students learn to work effectively in small groups, improve their oral presentation and analytical skills, and develop a heightened sense of confidence and leadership. Team taught in Maya Mexico by Dr. Christopher Fulton, Dr. Marie Petkus, and Prof. Alan Mills 

ART 496: Topics: Photography of the Mayan World (3 hours)
This course will explore the people and places of Maya Mexico through the lens of a camera. Students will participate in daily photo excursions to cities, towns, farms and archeological sites. Special attention will be given to capturing expressive images of human subjects in social environments such as markets, schools, city streets and at work in industries and agricultural settings. Throughout the course instruction will be given on proper camera use, exposure techniques, composition and digital printmaking. Note: This course will be offered within the context of the team taught course "Maya Mexico: Past and Present." Students in both classes will lodge and travel together and share in the overall learning experience. Taught in Maya Mexico by Prof. Alan Mills 
Please note: This cross-listed course is taught in English, and is open to Honors and non-Honors students with a 3.2 GPA and above. Students may earn course credit (3 hours) in one of the following disciplines: Anthropology, Art History, History, or Honors. All course credit will be issued by Western Kentucky University. The WKU Registrar will transfer grades to student's home institution approximately 6-8 weeks after the completion of the program. We encourage all students - long before KIIS program departure - to contact their Academic Advisor, Department Head, and/or the Study Abroad Office to determine the credit equivalencies at their home institution (that is, confirm ahead of time with your college or university how your desired KIIS courses will count towards your major and/or overall degree requirements). Course offerings are subject to change according to enrollment. 


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.