Tourism and Ecology in the Mayan Riviera

Mayan Riviera in Mexico

Mexico: Cozumel, Tulum, Carrillo Puerto, Chetumal, Cancun

The Anthropology and Sociology departments at the University of Massachusetts Boston, in collaboration with the College of Advancing and Professional Studies, are pleased to announce the following study abroad program in Mexico.

Two Regions in Mexico

Our program will take place in two distinct regions:
The Mayan Riviera and the Mayan Zone, both located in the state of Quintana Roo, in southeast Mexico.

The Mayan Riviera, which merges with the waters of the Caribbean Sea, is a coastal strip that stretches more than 80 miles from Cancun to Tulum and Punta Allen. The Mayan Zone is located immediately to the south of the Mayan Riviera, tourism is less developed and it is where most of the Mayan communities in the region live and maintain their traditions, customs and culture. Two major cities that we will visit are Carrillo Puerto and Chetumal, the state capital that borders with Belize.

Studying the relationship between tourism and ecology in the Mayan region of Mexico, students will have the opportunity to become better-informed global citizens by gaining an international perspective and a more complex understanding of global issues.

With emphasis on experiential learning and daily opportunities to interact with locals, students will be able to live what they are learning. Furthermore, they will share these learning experiences with a cohort of students and professors from different regions of the United States and Mexico, allowing for rich discussions, a diverse setting and collaborative learning.

The Mayan Riviera

Considered one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world, in the Mayan Riviera our students will study social and environmental impacts of mass tourism in the island of Cozumel: cruise ships, recreational/outdoor activities, shopping, nightlife, visit luxurious resorts and theme parks nestled in the jungle, as well as ancient Mayan cities, such as Tulum, located right on the Caribbean sea.

Tulum is experiencing rapid growth and we will learn about the community efforts to preserve fragile coastal and land ecosystems and wildlife. From there we will visit incredible ecological reserves such as Sian Ka'an, which was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. There our students will learn about eco-tourism and cultural tourism.

The Mayan Zone

Traveling south to the Mayan Zone, we will visit Mayan communities around the city of Carrillo Puerto to explore the history of cultural resistance and struggles to preserve their territory and identity. Students will also learn about the impact that mass tourism has had on their economic and cultural wellbeing in past decades.

In Chetumal, we will join faculty and students at the University of Quintana Roo, where our students will have the opportunity to learn more about Mayan language, gastronomy, literature, dance, architecture, crafts and music, as well as visit archaeological sites and museums that focus on the Mayan world.

Academic Credit

Upon successful completion, students earn a total of 6 credits in two UMass Boston courses: 

The Faculty

The program will be jointly directed and taught by Jorge Capetillo-Ponce, Associate Professor of Sociology and Latino Studies, and Jose Martinez-Reyes, Associate Professor of Anthropology. There will be a number of lectures by invited guest speakers.


Please be advised that international programs are subject to change, slight or major, at any time due to circumstances beyond our control; this includes any and all fees, dates, itinerary, and program activities. We will do our best to inform all applicants of any changes in as timely a manner as possible.

Schedule and Fee

This program is not being offered at this time. Please check back.

Additional Information

For program Information, please contact:

Jennifer Goode-Sollis
Wheatley Hall, 2nd Fl, Rm 203

For academic Information, please contact:

Professor Jorge Capetillo-Ponce

Professor Jose Martinez-Reyes