Earth Expeditions

Paraguay: Eco-Leadership

Students in this course co-develop an Eco-Leadership program in Paraguay with our partner, Para La Tierra.

Course Details
In Paraguay: July 26 – August 4, 2020
Add 1-2 days travel time. Students arrive at least one day before the course begins.
On the Web: April – December
Credits: 7 graduate credits from Miami University; course can be applied to the Global Field Program.
Course Cost: Field course (in-country + web): $2,750
(price includes tuition for 5 graduate credits and in-country costs) + airfare to Asunción, Paraguay + $500 in additional course support costs.

Fall project course (web, required): $600
(price includes tuition for 2 graduate credits)

Course Overview

Nestled in the heart of South America, Paraguay is home to the beautifully delicate Cerrado, the lush Atlantic Forest, the challenging Gran Chaco, and other rare and secluded ecosystems that have received little study and deserve far more attention. Some of Paraguay’s rather unusual fauna include the Chacoan peccary (first discovered in fossil form and thought to be long extinct, but as it turns out they are quite alive as seen in one of the banner photos above), owl monkeys, giant anteaters, guanacos, white-winged nightjars, and more than half the world’s species of armadillo, including such representatives as the greater fairy and the screaming hairy armadillo.

Environmental awareness is on the rise in Paraguay but contends with increasingly strong pressure from population growth, agriculture, cattle ranching, hunting, and construction. The presence of conservation organizations in Paraguay is quite limited, and there is a critical need to better understand and to build on the traditionally close relationship between local people and the land on which they depend.

Students in this course will have the unique opportunity to co-develop an Eco-Leadership program for Paraguay, working in partnership with Para La Tierra (PLT), a nonprofit conservation organization devoted to scientific research, conservation, and community engagement. The founding Director of PLT, Karina Atkinson, is a Global Conservation Fellow with Project Dragonfly. Her work has earned a Rolex Award, and she and the PLT team are deeply committed to supporting the next generation of conservation and education leaders.  Students will learn with Paraguayan youth and others the diverse skills required for effective eco-leadership, including methods for assessing wildlife populations; how to develop public exhibits, participatory media, and community events celebrating local biota; how to evaluate both educational and ecological outcomes, and how to support the ingenuity of local teams to foster local knowledge creation and informed environmental action.

Course Themes

  • Collaborative leadership
  • Natural history of Paraguay
  • Guarani socio-ecology
  • Public engagement in science
  • Inquiry and participatory education
  • Community-based conservation

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

  • Study at field conservation sites
  • Team-based strategic planning and program development
  • Interactions with experienced and emerging eco-leaders of all ages
  • Student-led discussions on key course topics
  • Journal writing
  • Open inquiries
  • Projects supporting the mission of Para La Tierra (e.g. environmental education, primates, reptiles and amphibians)

Planned Sites in Paraguay


Students will fly into Asunción, the capital of Paraguay and a historic South American city. Here, shaded streets and local squares, where Guarani vendors sell exquisite needlework and hand-crafted leather, exist alongside more industrial zones and upscale malls. Asunción is the transportation hub of Paraguay and a gateway to the country’s diverse biological and cultural landscapes.

San Rafael ‘Designated’ National Park

Located in Eastern Paraguay, San Rafael is the country’s largest remaining fragment of the once extensive Atlantic Forest. Still under threat from poachers, loggers, and agriculture development, the region is critically important for conservation in South America. This biodiversity hotspot boasts more than 430 species of bird – 60% of all the birds registered in Paraguay are found in this expansive forest reserve. Para La Tierra’s primate team is currently working with ProCosara to study the behavior and range of Hooded Capuchins.

Pilar, Neembucu

Also known as ‘The City of Birds,’ Pilar is a quaint town on the coast of the mighty Paraguay River. Surrounded by a network of marshes, streams, and lakes, there is a deep tradition of nature appreciation in this area. Howler monkeys coexist with people in the city, using power-lines and rooftops to travel from fruit tree to fruit tree in the city’s squares and plazas. Pilar is also home to Para La Tierra’s Center for Investigation, Development, Environmental Education and Leadership (Centro IDEAL). In addition to wildlife research, the Center oversees a community-wide program that engages children in the conservation of local forest and wetland ecosystems. 

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 dragonflyworkshops.miamioh.edu.

More Information

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

Course Details

In Paraguay:July 19-28, 2019
Add 1-2 days travel time. Students arrive at least one day before the course begins.
On the Web:April – December
Credits:7 graduate credits from Miami University; course can be applied to Global Field Program.
Course Cost:Field course (in-country + web): $2,700(price includes tuition for 5 graduate credits and in-country costs) + airfare to Asunción, Paraguay + $500 in additional course support costs.
Fall project course (web, required): $600(price includes tuition for 2 graduate credits)

Program Costs

2019 Cost: $2,700 + Airfare to Asunción, Paraguay + $500*

In addition to covering the price for five graduate credits of Miami University tuition, field course costs cover all basic expenses, including:

  • Meals (incidental snacks and drinks not included)
  • Lodging
  • Field station fees
  • Field equipment (as needed)
  • Ground transportation (van, boat, train, etc., as needed)
  • Park entrance and guide fees
  • Course reader

*NOTE: The Paraguay course carries a required extra charge to cover additional course support costs.

Course costs do not cover personal expenses, such as gifts, or some ancillary costs, such as passport fees, entry fees and additional course texts.  Please note the current fee for entry into Paraguay is $160 and is subject to change.

Airfare: To estimate fares to Asunción, Paraguay, applicants may wish to visit an online fare finder or call a travel agent. Bear in mind that airlines have seasonal fluctuations in fares.

Fall project course (web, required): $600. The tuition for this required, 2-credit project course is billed separately in the fall.

Financial Support

Because of support from Miami University, the course costs listed above are a fraction of actual program costs. Earth Expeditions recommends that accepted applicants to the program check with their school district or employer to see if professional development funds are available to further offset costs.

Tuition Costs:

U.S. Students and Students Living Abroad

To support involvement by a broad range of professionals nationally and globally, Miami University discounts tuition for participants accepted to an Earth Expeditions graduate course. Applicants must be over the age of 18 and hold bachelor’s degrees. Upon successful completion of both the field and Web-based components of the Earth Expeditions course, participants earn seven graduate credit hours.

Students Seeking Undergraduate Credit

Undergraduate students at Miami University or elsewhere may apply for an Earth Expeditions course and earn five credits for the field component, with the option to complete two additional credits for the fall Web component. Normal Miami tuition rates apply, as do eligible summer tuition waivers and scholarships. Contact Project Dragonfly for more information.

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