Now open for travel!

Would you like to study food, community, and culture in the tropics? Or provide volunteer service through one of several local partner organizations/agencies?

The IPSL Guatemala experience can be created as a customized graduate, undergraduate, gap year, volunteer, or service learning program, or you can apply for a standard program (set dates below).


Exploring a "Food Forest" in Guatemala

Food Justice, Permaculture, and Indigenous Rights

Take this opportunity to pursue intensive and interactive study and service abroad.


You can engage with the culture, food, lifestyle, agriculture economy, and human, animal, and environmental health of Guatemala first-hand through coursework, expert lecturers, service projects, and site visits.

First time international traveler, Michael, shares the challenges and opportunities of getting outside his comfort zone with IPSL Guatemala.

Graduate Studies

With the welcome and support of our field leaders in Guatemala, graduate students can critically examine the social, political and cultural impact of food production on the environment, animals, and people of Guatemala both in and out of the classroom setting.


Whether you're a NUNM student or affiliated with another institution, IPSL provides an opportunity to earn significant academic credit while advancing your research goals.

IPSL graduate student, Zandy describes her work in Guatemala and Peru using permaculture techniques in community development.

IPSL Non-Academic Soul Travel

Adult Soul Travel: Immerse yourself in food and social justice, sustainable agriculture systems, and Guatemalan indigenous cultures.

An IPSL Soul Travel experience to Guatemala is a sensory experience that can take participants from the black sand coasts up into the tropical mountain forests of Guatemala. You will be able to engage with indigenous and other local cultures, food, lifestyle, agriculture economy, and human, animal, and environmental health of Guatemala first-hand through expert lecturers and site visits. During your journey, you will critically examine the social, political and cultural impact of food production on the environment, animals, and people of Guatemala.


In addition to completing a variety of workshops, conversations and activities relevant to our theme, we will also indulge in the pure beauty that the Guatemalan landscape so frequently provides.

From towering volcanoes to lush jungles full of life, you can expect to bear witness to a multitude of breathtaking landscapes and once in a lifetime experience.


Come join us on this once-in-a-lifetime journey to explore the intersection of food, health, animals, and the environment in Guatemala! Dates are flexible.


Cost: Depends on length of time you stay. Prices start at around $1,300 USD.


Soul Travel trips generally include:

  • Pre-departure support and preparation, airport transfers, lodging, some meals

  • Curated visits to community-based organizations/NGOs, opportunities to meet locals, excursions

  • Emergency medical insurance, 24/7 in-country support

Community Organizing and Social Activism (COSA) program

Now more than ever, there is a clear and pressing need to engage with our world in an ACTIVE way. The world needs young leaders to fight for social justice and equal rights. Are you up for the challenge? Then be part of COSA™ - the only study abroad program working to create sustainable change though advocacy!


Learn the practical skills to be an active agent of change and social justice. Study the many international efforts in history, learn from these efforts and use them to develop a personal ethic of service, advocacy and civic engagement. COSA will teach you the skills of community organizing and will empower you to create sustainable change in your own communities. 


Program Highlights

  • Language of Instruction: English

  • Transcript from IPSL Institute for Global Learning

  • Accommodations at Permaculture Center

  • Meal Stipend

  • Pre-departure Online Orientation

  • On-site Orientation

  • One Health 6 Credit Course with excursions

  • Additional Academic Courses for Credit available

  • Spanish language tutoring or course

  • Volunteering at permaculture center and other organizations primarily serving the Indigenous Maya community

  • Service Site Honorarium

  • Airport transfers (both directions)

  • Full Medical and Evacuation Insurance

  • Full time on-site program support with 24 hour in-country emergency

Courses & Credits

  • Spanish language (3-6 credits)

  • Guatemala One Health: Ecology. Culture. Justice. (3-6 credits)

  • Applications of Mayan Cosmology in Contemporary Health Systems (3 Credits)

  • Introduction to COSA ( 3 credits) Undergraduate only

  • Independent Study (3 -6 credits)

  • Advocacy Research (3-6 credits)

  • Additional Electives (3 credits)

Service Opportunities

  • Organic and permaculture farm nonprofits

  • Women's traditional agriculture cooperative

  • Indigenous seed-saving programs

  • Food security and food justice non-profits

  • Medical clinics serving primarily indigenous Maya populations

  • Nutrition education programs

  • Maternal and baby health programs

Travel and Excursions that Broaden Your Perspective

This is a unique, comparative, on-the-go program that consists of daily academic learning, cultural excursions, and service in the community. The fast-paced exploration of Guatemalan agriculture and food concerns allow students to engage with many community organizations in locations around the country. As students travel together, learn from experts and become exposed to the cultural multiplicity of this vibrant country, the coursework grounds the student's experience and positions them to delve deeper into these issues using One Health theory.  

COSA Dates & Fees

Please inquire as we can customize to most any schedule and budget


The program welcomes students of any nation who have a high school diploma or equivalent credential.  TOEFL equivalent 550.  No Spanish language requirement.

What's Included

  • Tuition and academic fees

  • Academic transcript

  • Onsite and online orientation and pre-departure materials

  • Transportation from Guatemala City and back

  • Site visits

  • Cultural excursions

  • Expert lectures

  • English-speaking guides

  • Dorm-style accommodation or homestay

  • Food stipend (meals are prepared communally)

  • Emergency medical/ evacuation insurance

What's NOT Included

  • Local transportation (excluding airport transfers and transport associated with the One Health Course, which are included)

  • Cell phone service

  • Passport

  • Vaccination fees (if required/or elected)

  • Course materials

  • Personal travel

  • Personal spending money


Students may either stay in dorm style accommodations at our partner Permaculture Institute with students, activists, and researchers from around the world. Or, students may elect to stay with a Guatemalan host family in the local town.


An integral part of the program, the homestay offers you the opportunity to make life-long friends, gain higher proficiency in the language, and experience the culture from "the inside." All IPSL host families are carefully selected and experienced with hosting students.  Living with local residents is part of the immersion experience. Instead of being a tourist, an IPSL student gets to know what it's like to be part of a different culture.

The Instituto Mesoamerica de Permaculture

Volunteer Service

Ethical service in Guatemala

As an IPSL service-learning participant in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, you will have the opportunity to perform volunteer service in one of several local partner organizations/agencies. IPSL does its best to match your skills and interests to the placement, but please remember that the notion of service is, first and foremost, to respond to the needs of others. You will play a role not only by actively participating with a determined role among the team members, but also by supporting the projects and programs with your knowledge, experience, humility and hard work. In turn, your efforts assist organizations in achieving their goals in a sustainable, ethical way. 

Service Learning™ versus internship/practicum

IPSL service learning placements are determined, in part, by student interests and skills (and, in some cases, language abilities), but primarily by community and organizational needs needs. Central to the philosophy of service learning is the notion of service. Service learning is not the same as an internship or practicum although it may look very similar. The service in service learning may or may not be career-related. An internship is designed mostly so that the student will benefit by learning about his/ her future profession. In contrast, in service learning, the outcome of the student's work — that is, the service — is as important as the student’s learning. There are — or should be — benefits to those served. This reciprocity is a key component in international service learning.


The opportunities

IPSL's service learning placements are in development organizations that have sprung up from the grassroots, where locals have identified a need, and where the change effort is owned by them. IPSL participants should remember that they are stepping into a moving stream of initiatives and efforts that began long ago, and that will continue after the participant departs. Your work is important, but your individual contributions may not be visible for many years. In the meantime, you are fulfilling a need, and making a valuable contributing to development efforts in Guatemala.

A single organization may need hands-on assistance from IPSL participants (direct service) or assistance in the background building capacity (indirect service). Each is valuable. In actuality, IPSL participants do a little bit of everything. And this is as it should be. Nothing says "I'm a partner in your community" more than a willingness on the part of a service learning participant not only to do complex tasks, but also occasionally to pick up a broom and sweep the floor so that the setting is clean and presentable. Such actions serve to break down stereotypes about Americans and build equitable relationships. That is why many of the service organizations with which we work have been our partners for years.

Address real human needs

As you work with local people, you will find your experience and understanding of the culture enriched and deepened, your leadership skills developed, and your language skills enhanced. Your placement will be determined by community and organizational needs, as well as your interests, goals, and skills.

You will serve approximately 10-15 hours per week in a local organization.


Volunteer service may include:

  • Organic and permaculture farm nonprofits

  • Community capacity-building in food security

  • Youth environmental conservation education 

  • Providing infrastructure for permaculture projects including potable water improvement, wastewater treatment projects, soil conservation projects, irrigation water catchment systems

  • Women's traditional agriculture and textile cooperatives

  • Indigenous seed-saving programs

  • Food security and food justice non-profits

  • Medical clinics serving primarily indigenous Maya populations

  • Nutrition education programs

  • Maternal and baby health programs