Mexico Field Study Program

This webpage provides general information about the program to public visitors (Last updated: 11/13/2019). For latest information, contact Michel Wattiaux or visit the University of Wisconsin-Madison study abroad webpage.

Planning to participate in the Mexico Field Study program?

General Information | Benefits | Expectations | Grading | Eligibility | Important Dates & Deadlines
Budgets | Scholarships | Contact

General Information

Course title: Field Study in Animal Agriculture and Sustainable Development (in brief: "The Mexico Field Study Program")

Listed on UW Study Abroad web site as: UW Sustainable Development, Food Systems and Animal Agriculture (Note: HOW TO APPLY and be enrolled in the "473" Mexico Field Study Program can be found on this Study Abroad Website; Application deadline for May 2020 program is December 6, 2019).

Semester: Summer session (Last two-week of May, Leaving afterfinals and returning before or on Memorial Day)

Credits: 2

Instructor: Michel Wattiaux ("Me-shell" “Wa-tea-oh"), professor in the department of Dairy Science, Affiliate of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and Director of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems.

Enrollment: A minimum of 8 participants is necessary to justify the planning and implementation of this program and a maximum of 12 participants is set to maintain the highest quality of experience for each student.

Description: This field study takes students to various parts of Central Mexico to visit cultural, historical and agricultural sites.

Prerequisite: A 1-credit spring discussion-based course (Food Sci. 472, Soil Sci. 472, An Sci. 472 or Dy Sci 472) is a prerequisite, which prepares students for the field study by educating them about agricultural, social, and economic issues in developing countries and in Mexico. This requirement may be waived with instructor consent.

Additional resources:
See other informational pages at the menu on the left such as: Travel tips, Location of visits, etc
View previous itineraries and read what students have said about the field study in previous years here: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

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Benefits — What's in it for me?

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 visits 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 (1-cr of 472 in the spring + 2-cr of 473 in late May) which counts toward the 3-credit of International Studies required of students enrolled in CALS;
  • Completion of the required field program of the Global Health Certificate;
  • A unique opportunity to beef-up your 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!


— 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) and do the different activities (e.g., “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,
    • Fill out the course evaluation,
    • Complete at least 5 portfolio entries using the rubrics in the guidebook.


— How will I receive my grade? (May vary from year to year)



Binder (hand-written notes + partially completed portfolio entries)


Completed evaluations from binder and department course evaluation


Your top 5 photos of the trip with explanation of its significance


Portfolio entries (5 entries, 10 points each)

5 x 10

Final grade assignments: ≥95% = A; 94-85% = AB; 84-75% = B; 74-65% = C; 64-55% = D; ≤55% = F

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— 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.

  • Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior
  • Freshmen eligible only with instructor's consent
  • 2.0 cumulative GPA as of at the end of previous fall semester
  • Be enrolled in the corresponding 2-week late summer session
  • Completed the spring semester seminar (or received instructor's consent)
  • Completed a field study application by the deadline

Important Dates & Deadlines 

— What are my deadlines?

Dates (2019/2020)



Register for 472 Spring seminar

December 6th

Deadline for applying to be in 473 Field Program 

Early January

Admission decisions are made 

End of January

CALS continuing scholarship applications due

February - April 

Participate in 4 to 6 pre-departure preparation sessions in the evenings (usually after the 472 class periods)

March - April

Program fee due (multiple installments is an option)

End of April

Mandatory orientation administered by International Academic Program (IAP)


Leave for Mexico

End of May

Return from Mexico

Early June

Portfolio entries due

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— How much does it cost?

The Field Program in Mexico received generous financial support for the department of Dairy Science and from the Global Health Institute. In addition many of our Mexican collaborators donates some of their time to facilitate the site visit. Thus, the program is one of the most economical Study Abroad Program of the University. Budgetary information provide here are only estimates that may vary from year to year and for your particular circumstance. The budget includes a program fees and out-of-pocket expenses.

The program fee has typically ranged between $800 and $1200 and includes:

  • Hotels during the program in Mexico,
  • Ground transportation: a 20 passenger mini-bus,
  • Entrance to museums and cultural sites,
  • Travel insurance,
  • Administration fee in Mexico and in Madison,
  • "Tuition" corresponding to the 2-credits of the course.

The out-of-pocket expenses during the program in Mexico may vary and include:

  • Transportation to/from US Airport,
  • Meals and snacks ($10-20 per day) during the program,
  • Miscellaneous (e.g., souvenirs).

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— 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 visit UW-Madison's official scholarship page 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. 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, do talk to Rebecca Johnson, of CALS International Programs to help you find additional resources both on and off campus to fund your trip!

We want you to be able to attend this field study and will help you find the money to pay for it!

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— What if I have questions?


Feel free to contact Michel Wattiaux (program leader) or Rebecca Johnson (CALS Study Abroad advisor) with any questions. To get in touch with any students who have attended the field study previously, look up their names in the previous field study pages and use the UW-Madison directory to get their email addresses if they are still associated with the University.

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Keywordsgeneral information mexico field study program   Doc ID85307
OwnerJanice C.GroupDS 473 Field Study Abroad
Created2018-08-28 15:22:27Updated2021-07-24 17:20:35
SitesDS 473 Field Study Abroad
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