Travel the world while earning your degree with a Global Skills Opportunity

Enrich your studies by exploring somewhere new! From travelling through rainforests to embarking on a wildlife safari, there are opportunities for you to earn your degree while seeing the world. Plus, eligible students can receive up to $3,500 to help cover costs associated with the trip!

Explore the opportunities available for this year, and keep an eye on this page for new trips scheduled for next year!

What’s available for Earth and Environmental Sciences Students? (EARTH 491)  

Tour the beaches of Italy 

Amalfi Coast

Using the University of Waterloo facility in Rome as a home base, you will visit beaches and learn about coastal processes and management, including visits to Venice and the Amalfi Coast. You will also visit famous historical sites in Rome, eat pizza in Naples, and explore the famous volcano in Pompeii.

  • Dates: June 16-30, 2024 
  • Approximate cost: $4,000 - $5,000

Explore the Costa Rican Rainforest (COURSE FULL) 

Costa Rican Rainforest

Explore the rainforests and beaches of Costa Rica, zipline through the canopy, stand at the edge of an active volcano, and swim underneath a waterfall while learning about emerging issues in ecology, hydrology, geology, and development directly in the field from local experts. 

  • Dates: May 5 – 19, 2024
  • Approximate cost: $4,000 - $5,000

How do I apply? 

Please email Dean Chris Houser to receive more information and to express your interest in the course. He is here to answer your questions about the EES trips and the funding application process. 

What’s available for Biology students? (BIOL 490) 

Belize: Rainforest and Reef 

Belize Reef

An introduction to neotropical ecology. The purpose of the course is to provide an opportunity for students to gain familiarity with major neotropical terrestrial and marine ecosystems in Belize, evaluate conservation efforts to preserve habitats and biodiversity, and learn techniques of ecological observation. Learn more about Belize: Rainforest and Reef course module.

  • Dates: May 13, 25, 2024
  • Approximate cost: $3,850

Tropical Marine Environments

Lighthouse Reef Aquatic

This course is an introduction to tropical marine environments. We will immerse ourselves in the diversity of habitats at Belize's most spectacular atoll — Lighthouse Reef. We will stay on a remote 40-acre tropical island, 90 km offshore of the Belize mainland, within the Half Moon Cay Marine Reserve. The atoll is surrounded by a fringing reef rising virtually to the surface. Inside this reef is a lagoon speckled with hundreds of coral patches. The reef is highlighted for its density and diversity of both corals and fish. We will literally be surrounded by marine life. Much of our time will be spent exploring by kayak and snorkeling. We will learn to be field biologists, to document and to interpret what we observe, and to develop scientific questions from our observations. Learn more about the Tropical Marine Environments course module.

  • Dates: April 26 – May 8
  • Approximate price: $3,250

Biodiversity and Conversation in East Africa 

East African landscape

This course provides students with an introduction to field ecology, biodiversity, and conservation in East Africa. Seminars, class discussions, guest lectures, and field exercises provides overviews of the scientific method and field research techniques, the geological and natural history of Kenya and its biota, an introduction to different habitats and techniques for assessment of biodiversity, an assessment of traditional and emerging land practices and their impacts on ecosystems, and analyses of current conservation issues, particularly those related to competing land uses, to the expansion of tourism, and to the development aspirations of community stakeholders. Learn more about the Biodiversity and Conversation in East Africa course module.

  • Dates: June 3 – 18, 2024
  • Approximate price: $5,900 

Topical Field Biology

Wayqecha Forest

This field course will examine the ecology and evolutionary history of the Andes-to-Amazon region through a combination of lectures, discussions, and field research projects. During our two weeks in Peru, we will visit two main field sites, one in cloud forest and one in lowland rain forest. Visiting these two sites will allow us to explore how plant and animal communities change as we travel from the Andes Mountains to the jungles of the Amazon Basin. We will spend several days at the Wayqecha Research Center, almost 3,000m above sea level on the eastern slope of the Andes. We will then travel to the Los Amigos Research Center, before travelling back to Lima via the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado. Learn more about the Topical Field Biology course module.

  • Dates: July 31 – August 14, 2024
  • Approximate price: $2,500

Wildlife and Ecology in East African Ecosystems

Wildlife Safari

This course brings students on wildlife safari through some of the world's most extraordinary and iconic ecosystems found across northern Tanzania, one of the safest areas in Africa. Ecosystems in the area include different kinds of forests, savannahs, and higher elevation ecosystems on the slopes of extinct volcanoes. Learn more about the Wildlife and Ecology in East African Ecosystems course module.

  • Dates: August 1 – 16, 2024 
  • Approximate price: $6,000 

How do I apply? 

All BIOL 490 trips are courses from the Ontario University Program in Field Biology. To apply, the OUPFB application form to BIOL 490 course coordinators  Marcel Pinheiro or Sue Whyte. When applying, you may select up to three desired courses. Please only list a course you are willing to take!

Please note that some opportunities may be full as 1st round applications were due January 23. OUPFB will review a 2nd round of applications beginning mid-February. The open enrollment period will last until the balance of the course fee is required (varies per module). If the fee balance deadline has passed, you will not be able to enroll in that course. If you do not get into your desired course, your deposit will be returned. If you are enrolled in your selected OUFB course, you will not have your deposit returned should you decide to drop the course. 

I am interested in a trip - how do I receive funding for a Global Skills Opportunity?

Eligible students can receive up to $3,500 to help cover the costs of the trip. To be an eligible student, you must meet the following criteria

  • You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident that is 18 years of age or older.
  • You must be a registered undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo.
  • You must identify with at least one of the following:
    • Indigenous
    • Living with low income
      • This will be based on students who have been granted OSAP or other provincial student aid funding during Fall 2023 and/or Winter 2024, subject to verification by the Students Awards and Financial Aid (SAFA) Office. Your OSAP status will be kept private.
    • Living with a disability
      • Verification will be based on registration with AccessAbility Services. If you are not registered with AccessAbility Services, you will be required to apply and submit medical documentation verifying your disability.