Netherlands, Utrecht

Amazon River and Rainforest

when 18 July 2016 - 29 July 2016
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 ECTS
fee EUR 950

The Amazon River and the Amazon Rainforest are respectively the world largest river and the world' largest tropical rainforest. The forest and river itself, as well as the many human and nonhuman inhabitants, makes it a fascinating part of the world to be explored from a multidisciplinary perspective, such as:

- Biology: the most biodiverse region in the world;
- Anthropology: home of humanity' oldest forms of societies; hunters-gatherers;
- Geo sciences: the largest freshwater basin in the planet;
- Climate sciences: the Amazon Rainforest as a reservoir of CO2 and deforestation as a cause of climate change;
- Pharmacy: the Amazon Rainforest as a important source of food and medicine;
- Law and criminology: most deforestation is illegal and is related to other deforestation related crimes;
- Economics: the international economic drivers behind deforestation;

During a two week course at Utrecht University, participants will learn to approach the Amazon Region from various academic disciplines.

Optional/Supplementary: Excursion of another two weeks to the Amazon River and Rainforest, with lectures from local and international experts.


Of the different tropical rainforests around the world, Amazonia, as the region is also called, contains unparalleled biodiversity. It represents 40 percent of the remaining tropical rainforest and contains the largest collection of plant and animal species on earth. At least one in ten of every known plant and animal species is found there. On one hectare, 200 to 300 different types of tree species are commonly found? more than in Europe. Each tree hosts a unique variety of animals and insects, with some trees serving as home to 1,500 different types of insects.

This biodiversity not only refer to terrestrial biodiversity, but also to the aquatic biodiversity. The Amazon basin occupies some 6.8 million km2, which is more than twice the size of India. This river basin is nearly twice the size of Central Africa?s Congo Basin, the world?s second largest river basin. In terms of water discharge, the Amazon River is by far the largest river, discharging over 15 per cent of all the fresh water that is delivered to oceans. Interestingly, of all the water that falls in the Amazon region, only 40 per cent of it makes it to the sea; most of the rain that fall is recycled back into the atmosphere through evaporation.

Documentaries about the Amazon often portray pristine and impenetrable jungles, inhabited by often dangerous and mysterious animals. What is less known, is that the Amazon region is inhabited by many millions of people. The indigenous inhabitants are the most known, but today they form a minority. Still, the Amazon Rainforest is the world?s main area where humanity?s oldest form of human societies are found: tribal societies of hunters-gatherers. A small number of these tribal groups are so-called uncontacted, living without contact with the modern world. Their numbers are however dwindling. In the 1960s, the number of uncontacted tribes in the Brazilian Amazon was estimated at 250, today their number is estimated at around sixty.

The reason that some of the human populations are under threat is the ongoing logging for timber and deforestation for agriculture and mining. The course will also address the problem of deforestation and the different national and international driving forces behind deforestation in the Amazon.

Course leader

Dr. Tim Boekhout van Solinge

Target group

This course is suitable for anyone wishing to know more about the Amazon River and Rainforest an how and why it is threatened. As the course is interdisciplinary, it can be followed by students and scholars from all disciplines, as well by professionals, from governmental institutions, NGOs or the business world.

Course aim

The Amazon River and Rainforest are very suitable to be explored from a multidisciplinary perspective. It will provide participants with expert and state of the art information about the rich life of the Amazon Region (human and nonhuman), and make participants aware why it is important to preserve this ecosystem and its many living beings.

A secondary goal is to have a truly multidisciplinary course, which may also yield multidisciplinary projects and collaboration.

Fee info

EUR 950: Course + course materials + housing
EUR 600: Course + course materials

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