Students on a boat in Belize traveling across clear waters towards a tropical island

Coral Reef Management in Belize

  1. Program Details

    Freshman Seminar Abroad: Explore the Mesoamerican Reef while learning about coral reef management, policy and practice, and environmental impact.

    Location Belize City, Dangriga, and Tobacco Caye, Belize
    Term Spring Break
    Housing Hotel, Other
    Credit Type Resident Credit
    Sponsor Learning Abroad Center

    Program Eligibility

    GPA No requirement
    Student Type UofM Students
    Student Year Freshmen
    Language No Language Prerequisite
  2. About Coral Reef Management in Belize

    Belize encompasses not just a tropical safe haven for wildlife in the Central American jungles, but also an alluring underwater world. Straddling the coast of Belize is the world’s second-longest barrier reef, home to a large diversity of animals and plants.

    This underwater world is undoubtedly one of Belize's main attractions, offering a blend of sailors skimming across the sea, windsurfers breezing through the surfs, and snorkelers gazing at the picturesque Mesoamerican Reefs. With its natural and nautical attraction, seaside city sites like Belize City embody Belize’s translucent seas and cultural vibrancy.

    Course Description

    Coral reefs support nearly half the gross domestic product of tropical coast counties. Tourism, fishing, and protection are only some of the reasons millions of people rely on coral reefs for survival. But coral reef health is endangered by many influences, including overfishing, unsustainable tourism, pollution, and climate change.

    On this Freshman Seminar Abroad, examine the living laboratories of the Mesoamerican Reef System—specifically the Belize barrier reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere.

    No previous coral reef management or marine biology experience is required.

    You will spend a great deal of time physically engaging with the reef's biodiversity, so an ability to swim is required, and desire to learn is encouraged.

    Housing & Meals

    Live in shared accommodations with fellow program participants. All meals are included in the program fee.


    While in Belize, the surroundings will become your classroom. Explore and experience the seminar coursework at Monkey Bay and Tobacco Caye research stations and through site visits. Activities and excursions may include canoeing on the Sibun River; whale shark watching at South Water Caye Marine Reserve; snorkeling at Tobacco Caye Marine Station to experience corals, fish, sea grass, invasive lionfish, sea fans, tarpon, barracuda, and more; night snorkeling to see lobsters, squid, lionfish, phosphorescence, millions of tiny neon blue fish, and the resident Moray eels; visiting Bird Island and Glover's Reef Atoll; and working on relevant projects.


    All program participants will be taking the coordinated group flight to and from the program site. The cost of the group flight is included in the program fee that will be posted to your student account. Do not book your own flight, you will receive information from the Learning Abroad Center regarding your seat on the group flight once your participation has been confirmed.

    Learning Outcomes

    • Socialize first-year students as global professionals who understand that human interaction and culture are relevant to achieving professional goals
    • Discover and connect with the University of Minnesota campus and community
    • Prepare students to think critically, analyze topics, and appreciate diverse perspectives through pre-departure coursework, learning abroad and guided reflection
    • Function as an effective team member by utilizing personal strengths in a group setting
    • Develop an understanding of the importance of future international and intercultural learning

    Faculty & Staff

    This seminar is taught by Professor Jim Perry.

    Professor Jim Perry is a professor of the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology within the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences.

    About the Learning Abroad Center

    Learning Abroad Center programs are:

    • Affordable: our programs are cost effective.
    • Academically strong: many programs have strong University of Minnesota departmental support and offer pre-approved courses for many majors.
    • Culturally rich: regardless of the program you choose, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture.
    • Expertly managed: our staff in Minnesota and abroad are trained professionals and are always available to answer your questions from extensive pre-departure advising and online orientations to reentry programming. Your safety and well-being are paramount, and we work hard to ensure you have a rewarding and safe experience abroad.
  3. Program Structure

    Program Type Instructor-Led
    Program Level 1900-level course

    One 3-credit course

    Course Schedule

    Combine on-campus class during the spring semester with study abroad during spring break. On-campus Spring Semester 2020 course meets: Thursdays from 1:00–3:00p.m. on St. Paul Campus. Abroad term: Spring Break 2020


    Syllabus (2018)

    This seminar integrates scientific, managerial, and cross-cultural experience into a synthetic whole. The course will focus on management of reef environments through innovative and experiential education and field work, and will examine the importance of reefs, the influences that endanger reef ecosystems, and community action plans that are working to manage reef health. Learn from local experts and stakeholders such as conservationists, experts in reef management, fishers, and tourist industry drivers and learn about research management practices and influences. Explore the reef's biodiversity firsthand to develop a complex understanding of reef environment management. Inquire about and discuss societal goals for coral reef management, ways to translate goals into policy and practice, and methods for restoring damaged reefs.

    No previous coral reef management or marine biology experience is required. While in Belize, spend extensive time in the water engaging with the reef's biodiversity.

    Receive credit for: FW 1901

    Approved for: Environment Liberal Education theme

  4. Dates & Deadlines

    Submit the online application and complete the assigned application checklist according to the appropriate deadline:
    Term Program Dates Application Deadline
    Spring Break 2020 Mar 7, 2020  –  Mar 15, 2020 Dec 1, 2019

    Program dates are subject to change.

    If the deadline falls on a weekend, submit your materials on the following business day.

    Important Note: Enrollment on this program is limited to 20 students. Admission is granted on a rolling basis and applications are reviewed in the order they are completed. Some programs may fill to capacity prior to the application deadline, therefore applying early is recommended. Additionally, applying early will allow for more time to plan ahead and prepare for the program.

    On Campus Dates

    Thursdays from 1–3 p.m., Biological Sciences, St. Paul campus 

    Orientation Dates & Locations

    Orientation will be conducted in 2 parts: an online orientation, which is mandatory for all students, and an in-person, program-specific session. You will receive more information about the online orientation via email. Failure to complete the online orientation will impact your ability to go abroad.

    See below for tentative dates and times for your in-person session. You will be notified of the official date and time via email. Participants will receive applicable orientation materials via email approximately 1 week prior to the in-person session.

    Term Abroad Date/Time Location
    Spring Break 2020 TBD TBD
  5. Fees for Coral Reef Management in Belize

    Spring Break 2020

    The program fee includes airfare, housing, program administration, welcome and farewell meals, most additional meals, international health insurance, entrances to course-related excursions and site visits, airport transfers, and in-country transportation for all course related activities. Students must also budget for passport and passport photos, a few meals, spending money, and miscellaneous living expenses.

    If you are registered for less than 13-credits or if you are a non-UofM student, you will be charged tuition for this course in addition to the program fee.  Notify the Learning Abroad Center if this applies to you.  

    Billing & Payments

    Visit Billing for information about the billing process for application fees, deposits, and program fees.

    Financial Aid & Scholarships

    Visit Financial Information for information on using financial aid and scholarships for study abroad.

    Freshman Seminar Abroad participants are eligible to apply for a specific Freshman Seminar Abroad scholarship. Applications are due October, 15, 2019. Apply HERE.

    Special scholarship opportunity for College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Science (CFANS) students: CFANS International Learning Grant, Application deadline: TBD

    Bridging Loan

    Bridging Loan, a no-interest/no-fees loan that funds the upfront deposit and flights costs, is available for this program for eligible students.

    Cancellation Policy

    Before you apply to or confirm your participation on this program, review the Learning Abroad Center's Cancellation Policy to inform yourself of the timeline and financial obligations for canceling.
  6. Prepare

    Complete pre-application advising.

    Be aware: All programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.

    To complete the online application for this program, you will need to select or provide the following information on the online application:

    Center Name TC Learning Abroad Ctr
    Education Abroad Term Spring Break 2020
    Program Name Freshman Seminar Abroad: Coral Reef Management in Belize
    Track Name Coral Reef Management in Belize
    Country Belize


    University of Minnesota Student—apply

    Use your University of Minnesota internet ID and password to log into the Education Abroad application system. Your student account will be charged a $50 application fee.


    After you submit your application, you will receive an email notification confirming that your application was received. Submitted applications are assigned an application checklist, which will include the following items:

    • Application Essay

    Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist assigned to you.

    Next Steps

    After your application checklist is complete, your application is reviewed by our program team. You will be notified of an acceptance decision by email. If accepted, you will be assigned a confirmation checklist, which you will complete to confirm your participation in the program. If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application system and submit a Cancel Request.

    Register for On Campus Course

    Your participation on this program is secured by applying and confirming through the Learning Abroad Center application process.

    You will also need to register for the on-campus course FW 1901.

    Note: Registering for the course, but not confirming through the Learning Abroad Center, will not hold your spot in the program.

  7. Program Contact

    For further information or questions about this program, send an email to

    Whitney Westley Fisher or call at 612.625.8827.