Planning to Attend the Mexico Field Study? This page was created for the Summer 2013 Program and will beupdated in Jan/Feb 2015 for the August 2015 Program

General Information

Title: Mexico Field Study Program
Listing: Unlisted CALS study abroad summer course  (Click here to go to CALS Study Abroad Page)
Semester: Summer session
Credits: 2
Enrollment: Although a minimum 8 participants is needed to justify the field study, the enrollment is limited to 12 to maintain the highest quality of experience for each student
Description: Purpose: What is it? The field study takes participants to Mexico to visit cultural, historical, and agricultural sites. The trip is between 11 and 14 days long during the last 2 weeks in August.
Prerequisite: A 1 credit spring seminar course (cross-listed special topics 375) which prepares students for the field study by educating them about agricultural, social, and economic issues facing Mexico. The spring seminar requirement may be waived with instructor consent.
Dates: August 18th - 31th (See current 2013 program schedule page)
Instructor: Michel Wattiaux; email:
Details: To see the itinerary and read what students have said about the field study in previous years, click here for: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 field study pages. Also, see the other "informational" pages, Application and Travel Tips, to understand more of what is involved in the trip.

Benefits: What's in it for me?
ocean resort

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Although the actual site visits are reviewed and adapted every year given the specific interests of each cohort of participants, the field study is designed to provide participants with opportunities to deepen their understanding of the real-world issues discussed during the spring semester seminar. The tour will:

  • Provide participants with a first-hand experience of Mexico — its cultures, its history, its natural resources, life in rural setting, small town and large city;
  • Interact with stakeholders of the Mexican dairy industry: university students, professors, smallholders, large business organizations, cheese makers, and more;
  • Allow a direct exposure to - and practice of - Spanish;
  • Offer an opportunity to collect data, pictures, interviews, etc., which will contribute to their individual projects;
  • Give participants a one-in-a-lifetime experience of Mexico, off the beaten tourist path!

Academic benefits. This program fits well in any 4-yr road map and provides participants with:

  • A total of 3 credits (spring seminar + summer field study) which counts toward international certificate or international studies requirement or the 3-AAE credits (general requirements)
  • A unique opportunity to beef up their resume with international experience

Professional development benefits. Additional gains to some participants include:

  • Find out whether you would enjoy longer-term study abroad programs;
  • Find out whether you would be interested in gaining more experience in international agriculture;
  • Network with other students, faculty, and professionals in your area of interest;
  • Become a global citizen by experiencing and interacting with cultures and peoples different from you!

Expectations: What am I expected to do?

Please be aware that the field trip is not a vacation and although we want to have fun and learn in a relaxed atmosphere, it is a course that will be graded according to how well you complete the following expectations:

  • During the field study:
    • Complete the guidebook as we visit the different sites (notes pages) and do the different activities (ex. “Getting to Know Your Travel Mates”)
    • Be an active participant (asking questions), a team-player (helping others), and an eager recorder (taking notes and pictures, etc.).
  • After the field study:
    • Fill out the reflection at the back of the guidebook (in the airport and on the flight back to the US)
    • Fill out the Dairy Science course evaluation (in the airport and on the flight back to the US) and return to Laura Van Toll
    • Complete at least 5 portfolio entries using the rubrics in the guidebook

Grading: How will I receive my grade?
Item # points
  1) Completing the Guidebook (15 entries x 3 pts/entry) 45 pts
  2) Completion of Field Study Evaluation through mini-essays (reflection) 15 pts
  3) Portfolio Entries (5 entries x 8 pts/entry) 40 pts
  Total Number of Points 100

Eligibility: Am I eligible?

Before applying to the Mexico Field Study program, please look over the following list. You must meet the following requirements in order to attend the field study:

  • Must have 2.0 GPA as of end of previous Fall Semester;
  • Must not be on academic probation;
  • Be enrolled in the corresponding 2-week late summer session;
  • Have completed the spring semester "Mexico seminar" (or have received instructor's consent)
  • Have completed a field study application (see Table below for deadline and application form). See application website here.

Important Dates & Deadlines: What are my deadlines?
Date Step
November - January Register for 375 spring "Mexico Seminar": Agr in Emerging Economies: Dairying in Mexico.
January Contact Laura VanToll (608) 265-0673 (CALS International Programs if you have any concerns (financial or others).
January 31st CALS Continuing student Scholarship application due (see "financing your education" and Scholarship@UW-Madison page (still under-construction).
February 23rd Mexico Field Study 2012-Application with attached Study Abroad Scholarship application due
F. March 16th 1st Installment of program fee due ($500)
April 27th 2nd Installment of program fee due (balance)
Late April Mandatory Orientation: See this page for information and dates on this year's orientation session.
August 18th Leaving from Madison
August 31th Return to Madison - Completed guidebook, evaluation, and reflection due in the airplane
September 3rd Fall Semester Begins
September 17th Portfolio Entries due


Contacts: What if I have questions?

Feel free to contact Professor Michel Wattiaux, program leader, or Laura VanToll, CALS International Programs, with any questions you may have. Also, ask questions of students (or teachers) who have attended the seminar and the field study before. Simply look up their name in the field study pages and use the UW-Madison "people search" to get their email address if they are still associated with the University.


burros and plow Budget: How much does it cost?

We have put together a tentative budget for this year's field study. The final version of the budget will be developed using updated expenses. Below is a chart of expenses which may be incurred during the field study and describes those expenses included in the program fee and those which you will be personally responsible for during the trip:

Expenses Included Expenses Not Included
  • Airfare
  • Ground transportation in Mexico
  • Hotel and lodging
  • Fees (mandatory insurance, entrance fees, etc.)
  • Administration in US and Mexico
  • Tuition (2 credits)
  • Passport application fee
  • Ground transportation to— and from — US airport*
  • Meals during the trip
  • Personal expenses (souvenirs, gifts, etc.)
*May be included in the program fee depending on flight schedule

You can expect the the program fee to range from $1500-2300 (historically). The actual program fee will vary depending on the total number of participants and the finalized itinerary. Note that the program fee includes the tuition (for 2-credits of summer session). However your tuition dollars (approximately $700) are placed entirely in an account that is used to pay for your actual expenses during the program.

Scholarships: How can I afford it?

While the Mexico Field Study is one of the cheapest international experiences students can take advantage of on campus, we realize that most students are probably looking at the program fee and saying to themselves, "There's no way I can afford this!" But you are wrong! If need be, with a little bit of planning, you can easily afford this!. Below we've compiled a list of funding sources you can use to pay for this field study:

  • For Dairy Science and closely related areas, please follow this link to learn more about scholarships;
  • Your application to this field study program includes a section to complete for the Study Abroad scholarships, open to all students;
  • All degree seeking CALS students should apply annually for scholarships, especially the continuing student scholarship: February 1 deadline, click here for the CALS scholarship application. The continuing student application is an on-line submission form. Typically these scholarships comes in the form of reduction in fall semester tuition;
  • All students should also look into the UW-Madison International Institute and the Latin America, Carribean and Iberian Study (LACIS) program;
  • And finally, please with Laura VanToll (608) 265-0673 of CALS International Programs who can help you find additional money from resources both on and off campus!
We want you to be able to attend this field study and will help you find the money to pay for it!

Fee Schedule: When am I required to pay?
Deadline First installment: March 9th 2011
Amount due: $500 for down payment that will be used toward purchase of tickets and to hold your place
Deadline second installment: April 28th
Amount due: Program fee balance (which will be individualized based on scholarship allocation)

University Policies in Regards to Study Abroad Programs

burros and plow
Safety: Will I be safe?

A lot has been on the news lately about the violence and drug wars in Mexico, which naturally has people worried about travel to Mexico. There are some dangerous places for tourists in Mexico right now - namely the U.S.-Mexico border area. The west-central region of Mexico, where we visit, is the safest area in the country.

The program leader, College of Agriculture, and the University are constantly monitoring the situation in Mexico. The University travel policy follows State Department recommendations. This means that if the situation in Mexico becomes such that the State Department initiates a travel restriction to the area of Mexico where we will be, the University may post-pone or cancel all together a trip. Thus University may also terminate our field study and bring everyone home before the end of the trip if the safety of our students is in jeopardy.

That being said while in Mexico, we are constantly "guided" by Mexican professors and their students who act as our "chaperones" as well as our contacts for the region's visits. The program leader is bilingual in English and Spanish and there is at least one assistant to the program leader (a non-student University of Wisconsin employee) with the group at all times.

If you are still concerned, the following are some resources concerning safety in Mexico and while traveling abroad:

KeywordsField Study information eligibility purpose planning   Doc ID56627
OwnerAntonio A.GroupDS 473 Field Study Abroad
Created2015-09-22 11:39:50Updated2015-10-22 11:12:11
SitesDS 473 Field Study Abroad
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