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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

Winter Session 2020 will run from December 26, 2019 to January 18, 2020, with three-week on-campus classes beginning on January 2, 2020. We will update the Winter Session site in September. If you would like to receive an email when this happens, please join our email list. In the meantime, you may want to browse through the site to get an idea of what we offer.

Experiential Writing in the Yucatan: Environmental and Cultural Communication

January 4–14, 2019


Experiential Writing in the Yucatan

This three-credit writing course provides a unique opportunity to explore the rich culture and environment of Mexico's Yucatan while improving your communication skills in one of the most effective ways possible, with an intensive writing experience.

Our ten-day program has an extraordinary student-to-instructor ratio of 5-1. The two instructors have extensive experience with sustainability and environmental communication, including published articles, opinion pieces, and popular science writing in magazines, newspapers, books, and new media.

Your communication skills will improve markedly over the ten days, as will your understanding of some of the critical sustainability issues in an area of high tourism and biological diversity. The course, COMM/PLSCI 3090, meets every day from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., except for one day mid-week, when you'll have the day off.

Our exploration of Yucatan culture and environment will provide inspiration for the five writing assignments. This includes a day-long field trip to a Mayan village and hike with local guides to learn about medicinal plants. We will also visit an underground stalagmite-filled cenote (water-filled cavern) important to Mayan culture and have an optional swim. Along the way we will visit Mayan wood carvers and also learn about the rise and fall of the Mayan commercial chicle (chewing gum) trade and its impact on the environment.

The second half-day field trip is focused on environmental issues affecting marine life, with a lecture by a marine biologist, followed by snorkeling at a protected reef.

We will be staying at Rancho Sak-Ol, where you'll share a room with another student or students. This small palapa-style beachfront inn is half-an-hour south of the Cancun airport, just outside the small fishing village of Puerto Morelos. The inn has a general meeting area that we use as our classroom. Kitchen facilities are available. Rancho Sak-Ol is not a resort and Puerto Morelos is a quiet town, unlike the more well-known tourist towns in the region.