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individualized course plans

Each student can shape an individualized course plan by 1) choosing a specific academic/learning track, 2) selecting your elective course(s), and 3) picking the amount of course credits for each course. 

Academic / Learning Tracks:

  • Education Studies

  • Environmental/Nature Studies

  • Community/Decolonial Studies


Elective Courses:

  • "Alternative Education"

  • “Practicum in Education”

  • "Sustainable Food Systems"

  • “Practicum in Ecological Restoration”


Credit Selection:

  • 3 credits - Our classes are structured as 3-credit classes. This is the regular version of the course.

  • 4 credits - The regular course + an extended community-egagement lab. Students engage in at least one extra hour of work per day (3-credit classes have 45 contact hours, 4-credit courses have 60 contact hours). The community engagement lab is also accompanied by a more extensive reflective learning component, usually in the form of a creative project or academic paper.  

How to set up individualized course plan
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How to set up your Individualized learning plan



Decide which track you would like to follow.


Determine the number of credits for each class.


Select your elective course(s)


Set up an advising session with the Pachaysana Resident Director


Once you are in Ecuador, we will offer a second review your course selections and provide a final opportunity for changes.


In the middle of Module 2, each student selects their location for Module 4, meaning each student decides where theywill carry out their elective course(s).

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the track affect my studies?

The track will affect you in three ways: 1) it is especially important to help decide which elective(s) you will select (see below), 2) in the three core courses, our educators will alter certain assignments and readings according to tracks, and 3) if you select a 4-credit class, the extra credit can be applied directly to the selected track.    

How does Pachaysana recommend I divide my credits?

First, it depends on your home school institutions. Some of our college partners prefer 3-credit classes and others prefer 4-credits. Second, while you can mix-match, most students choose A) four 4-credit classes, or B) five 3-credit classes. Option "A" means you will have a slightly heavier first part of the semester and option "B" means you will have a slightly heavier second part of the semester   

How do the elective classes work?

Each elective is carried out as a guided independent study. Pachaysana faculty work with each student to adapt the placeholder syllabi to their individualized learning needs. For students who want a greater mix of theory and practice, we recommend the "Alternative Education" and "Sustainable Food Systems" courses. For students who want a course that feels like an internship, we recommend the "Practicum" classes.

Can I create my own independent study?

If none of our elective courses meet your needs, you can petition to create your own. This would happen during Step 3.

When should I have a my advising session?

While it can be sooner, we recommend that you arrange your advising session one to two months before the program start date.

How long do I have to change my classes?

You will only have until the end of orientation to change your class schedule.

How do I pick my community for Module 4?

You will have two host community options. You will spend Module 1 in the first host community and Module 2 in the second host community. This should provide students enough information and experience to make their selections.

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Selecting Elective Courses ACCORdING TO YOUR TRACK

Elective Couses and Tracks

Education Studies

Option 1: Alternative Education and Practicum in Education for 3 credits each

Option 2: Alternative Education for 4 credits

Option 3: Practicum in Education for 4 credits


Environmental/Nature Studies

Option 1: Sustainable Food Systems and Practicum in Ecological Restoration for 3 credits each.

Option 2: Sustainable Food Systems for 4 credits.

Option 3: Practicum in Ecological Restoration for 4 credits

Community/Decolonial Studies

Option 1: Take any of the following 2 course combinations (3 credits each course) with the following foci:

  • Alternative EducationSustainable Food Systems

This combination provides the strongest theoretical background with a depth of readings that aid in connecting a decolonial framework to practical skills in community-building.

  • Practicum in Education + Practicum in Ecological Restoration

This combination is framed as an internship in decolonial practices. It provides diverse community-based experiences in education and ecology, allowing students to explore how grassroots education impacts local environmental sustainability and how restoration work impacts the ways we teach & learn.

  • Alternative EducationPracticum in Ecological Restoration

This combination asks students to explore decolonial education theory while engaged in the practice of ecological restoration. In other words, students' daily tasks are focused on reforestation, seed collecting, permaculture, etc, but their reflective learning is focused on how such ecological practices can impact colonial education structures.

  • Sustainable Food Systems + Practicum in Education

This combination asks students to apply sustainable agricultural practices in a formal and/or non-formal education setting. In other words, students learn the tenets of sustainable food systems and seek to put them in practice in an education program, like the Forest School, an after-school program, etc.

Option 2: A scaled back version of Option 1. The student elects one of the four elective courses for four credits. We alter parts of the course’s content to fit the track that the student chooses.

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