The primary goal of the California State University-Dominguez Hills Summer Ethnographic Field School is to help students interested in fieldwork and ethnographic methods achieve a level of methodological proficiency that will enable them to undertake future work independently and confidently. The medium of training is an on-site research project revolving around issues associated with daily life in the lake region. This may include the environmental, socio-economic, and cultural impacts of tourism; a study of textiles and vendors; research on local agriculture…the list of topics is as broad as our students’ interests. A second goal of the program is to provide students with a deeper understanding of the multi-faceted culture dynamics in the area. This is accomplished by having the program participants design, implement, and write-up an independent, training project during the 6 weeks of their participation. A third goal is the production of useful information and analysis that comes from their experiences working in the region. Program sponsors, governmental entities, university scientists and faculty, and relevant community leaders and collaborators are given copies of the final reports of every student participant.

Each student receives six course credits upon successful completion of the following two courses that form the basis of instruction during the field school. Both undergraduate and graduate credits are offered. Note: English will be the primary language of instruction, but Spanish will also be used and students with sufficient Spanish language skills will be encouraged to use their Spanish as often as possible. English translation is available to facilitate interviewing and communication. There are also inexpensive language schools in Panajachel and several of the surrounding Lake Atitlan communities for those who are interested.
ANT 495 Ethnographic Field School: This is a three-credit field methods course emphasizing practical training in ethnographic fieldwork and ethics. Applied research methods such as rapid appraisal will also be demonstrated. Students learn research design, systematic observation, interviewing, fieldnote-taking, coding, ethics, and how to use laptop computers in ethnographic research, data analysis and report writing.

ANT 334 Mesoamerica, Past and Present: Explores historical and contemporary trends among the diverse cultures of Mexico and Central America from Pre-Columbian era to today. Focus on indigenous peoples and relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

Learning Objectives The program begins with an orientation and classes; meanwhile students begin to develop their field project, eventually writing a final report on their fieldwork activities and findings throughout the 6 weeks of the program. Students learn methods and theories through classroom lectures and fieldwork assignments. Excursions to other communities in the Western Guatemalan highlands are planned. Students are placed in Guatemalan homes in communities around Lake Atitlan, where they all live. Contact with their families is one of the best ways to learn about Guatemalan and Maya Atitlan culture and society. Each student undertakes his/her own applied fieldwork project. Student fieldwork begins immediately and continues throughout the remaining weeks. The director and assistant director, located in Panajachel, will make frequent visits to each student to assist them in their research and check on their progress. For examples of the type of research projects students have done in the past, consult the website's final papers from each of the previous field schools. The program emphasizes the following skill development during the program:
 1. designing a field research project;
 2. selecting appropriate research techniques based on a realistic appraisal of the field context;
 3. developing daily and weekly research goals;
 4. writing field notes, coding field notes and keeping a journal;
 5. doing systematic observation techniques;
 6. understanding ethical issues implied in field work;
 7. doing formal and informal interviewing;
 8. developing appropriate rapport building devices with informants and collaborators;
 9. surviving and overcoming culture shock;
 10. analyzing ethnographic and fieldwork data, and writing research reports.