Earth Expeditions
Macaw feathers, close up
Forest along the river
Family of squirrel monkeys
Two macaws in flight

Course Overview

Journey to the Amazon and learn how communities are working to save this astonishing and irreplaceable ecosystem.

In this region of the Neotropics, reality has attained mythic proportions: More than 400 species of mammal, 1,300 bird species, 3,000 fish, 40,000 plants, and 2.5 million insect species. And still counting. The staggering diversity of the lush Amazon rainforest remains, in many ways, a mystery. Why is this area of South America the most diverse on the planet? How did such diversity—greater even than the species-rich rainforests of Africa and Asia—arise, and how is it maintained? How have the varied human groups that inhabit this region adapted to their unique environments? And perhaps the most relevant question for life on Earth, what is the future of the Amazon?

Travel to the Peruvian Amazon rainforest and work with educators, researchers, and local communities to better understand the evolution and maintenance of biodiversity in this region, and to experience firsthand the effects of human interventions in the Amazon, from deforestation and urbanization to restoration efforts by local groups. Our field sites provide an exceptional opportunity to investigate methods of avian research, and the vital roles that birds play in forest systems. We will explore how we are all linked to this magnificent rainforest, sometimes called the “lungs of the planet,” and how to develop effective actions to engage public audiences in rainforest conservation.

Prior to and following the field experience in the Amazon, students will complete coursework via Dragonfly Workshops' Web-Based Learning Community as they apply experiences to their home institutions.

Course Themes

  • Tropical rainforest ecology
  • Avian ecology and conservation
  • Community-based environmental education
  • Sustainability, ecological footprints, and low-impact practices
  • Inquiry-driven learning
  • Participatory education
  • Traditional ecological knowledge

A typical Earth Expeditions day in Amazon is likely to include:

  • Study at field conservation sites
  • Lectures
  • Student-led discussions of key course topics
  • Engagement with local communities
  • Open inquiries
  • Journal writing

Planned Sites in Amazon

Center for Conservation Science and Education, Tambopata

The Center is situated on a scenic bend in the Tambopata River, a few miles from the town of Puerto Maldonado in southeastern Peru. Much of the area around the town has been transformed by development, but the bend still includes extensive native forest linked by green corridors along the Tambopata River to the unbroken virgin forest that stretches south for hundreds of miles.

The Center’s long-term goal is to document the area’s rich fauna and flora and to track changes in species composition and abundance as urban development encroaches in the southwestern Amazon region. As part of this goal, the Center conducts an extensive bird monitoring research project using mist nets (ground/canopy) to capture, color-band and release species, while Bal-chatri traps are used to capture raptors.

(Course locations are subject to change.)

Dragonfly Workshops Web-Based Learning Community

Upon acceptance into the program, students will join instructors and classmates in Dragonfly Workshops' collaborative Web community to complete pre-trip assignments. After returning home, students will continue to work in their Web-based community through early December to develop projects initiated in the field, discuss assignments, and exchange ideas. All students should expect to spend two to three hours a week contributing to their Web-Based Learning Community from their home or school computer. Navigating the Web platform is easy--it's designed for people with no prior computer experience. To learn more about this unique Web experience, visit

More Information

For more information on the admissions process, physical requirements, and more, please visit Admissions and/or FAQs.

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Course Details

Notes from the Field

Earth Expeditions, Amazon

On the way to an avian research site, Amazon

Fiorella Gardella

Environmental Educator, non-profit humanitarian organization, from Costa Mesa, California

"I will never forget all those different butterflies, the macaws and parrots, and the footprint of the jaguar. And I will never forget my fellow Earth Expeditions students and our instructors. It is too good to make lasting friendships and to learn sooo much from other students and instructors."

Program Costs