Argentina: Transnationalism and Comparative Development in South America

Argentina: Transnationalism and Comparative Development in South America

Examine the social and economic development strategies of South America's Southern Cone countries: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

In this comparative study abroad program based in Buenos Aires, you will rapidly improve your Spanish while exploring the current economic and social realities of the countries comprising the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR). You will have the chance to discuss similarities and differences among these four countries while delving into important transnational and regional processes.

Major topics of study include:

  • Social realities and changing political frameworks in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay
  • Top-down transnational processes that include regional integration through state-led institutions such as MERCOSUR (Mercado Común del Sur / Southern Common Market), UNASUR (Unión de Naciones Suramericanas / Union of South American Nations), and others
  • Grassroots transnational processes such as migration in the region and political and social movements
  • Theory and development practice from economic, environmental, and human perspectives

Live and study in Buenos Aires and experience three other major cities in South America.

Buenos AiresThe program is primarily based in Buenos Aires, where you will spend six weeks attending lectures by local university professors, visiting sites relevant to the program theme, and getting to know grassroots and community leaders. 

Additionally, you will visit three other cities: Asunción, Paraguay; Montevideo, Uruguay; and São Paulo, Brazil (fall semester), or Porto Alegre, Brazil (spring semester). In all locations, you will have a full agenda of university lectures and seminars, interactions with major civil society organizations, and visits to emblematic and iconic institutions important to present and past regional processes. Some of the various topics you will be exposed to in all four countries include afro-descendent and indigenous movements as well as women’s and LGBT struggles in the region. Transnational movement of goods and people (south-south migration) is also closely examined throughout the region, giving you the opportunity to better understand regional and global chains of production and reproduction. 

Rapidly advance your Spanish.

During the period in Buenos Aires, you will be provided with numerous opportunities to improve your Spanish. In addition to classroom instruction, the program offers varied situations in which you can maximize your practice of the language, including living with a local family. Lectures are delivered entirely in Spanish.

Learn from academics and social activists in four different countries.

Buenos Aires-Pasaje de la Defensa-San TelmoThe program focuses heavily on firsthand experience. Through different visits and lectures you will greatly expand your knowledge of the region’s history; recent political and economic changes; the significance and role of grassroots movements; and the economic, cultural, and social aspects of regional integration. The program will also give major attention to development models followed by each country as well as transnational economic and political practices of their citizens in the context of neo-extractivism (the expansion of soy exploitation for example) and environmental consequences in the region. 

Independent Study Project

You will spend the last four weeks of the program focused on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursuing original research on a selected topic of interest to you. The ISP is conducted in Buenos Aires or another approved location appropriate to the project.

Sample topic areas for the ISP include:

  • Bilateral government-owned development projects
  • Immigration policy changes
  • Development of corporate social responsibility
  • Women’s political participation
  • Changes in political participation
  • Eliminating child labor
  • Sustainability of agricultural export production
  • Gender issues
For me, my Independent Study Project is far more than a program requirement or a project I’m doing for a grade that will transfer back to my major — it’s the culmination of years of travel, my personal goals, and my academic interests coming together into one.

Antonia DeMichiel, University of Oregon


Previous college-level coursework and/or other significant preparation in sociology, political science, economics, or development studies, as assessed by SIT. Three recent semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent and the ability to follow coursework and assignments in Spanish, as assessed by SIT.

Access virtual library guide.

Browse this program’s Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.

Using an interdisciplinary approach, this program explores key theoretical and practical aspects of economic integration on the development of MERCOSUR countries. Students learn about the history of the region, the region’s principal actors, and these states’ prospects for continued social and economic integration. By traveling to different MERCOSUR member countries, students experience the many contrasts and convergences for themselves. 

Language study and independent research also contribute to students’ enhanced understanding of the region’s people and overarching socioeconomic issues.

Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Transnationalism and Regional Processes in the Southern Cone – syllabus
(LACB3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
This course provides students with a general overview of regional integration processes in Latin America by looking at some of its core institutions, including MERCOSUR (Mercado Común del Sur) and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations), and examining them from the point of view of four countries of the Southern Cone. The course takes both an economic and international relations perspective, paying special attention to current transformations and development processes within southern countries and their implications for regional integration. This course also explores the way in which transnational social movements agendas sharpen national and transnational politics and uses Uruguay and Brazil as major comparative studies to examine such issues as public policies around Afrodescendent populations’ rights, and the right to the city. Transnational studies have consolidated themselves across the social sciences in an attempt to provide an analytical framework through which to look at processes beyond the nation state and in order to understand regional processes, migration, development models, inequality, and the construction of citizenship in its various dimensions. Analysis of topics can be as varied as the formation of global commodity and care chains, political practices and struggles for citizenship followed by transmigrants, or transnationalization of social and environmental protests. The course examines different conceptions of governance, redefinitions of the role of the nation state, the restructuring of the economy (including economic inequalities), and different strategies through which social mobilization operates. This course is carried out in three different locations: Buenos Aires; Porto Alegre, Brazil (spring semester) or São Paulo, Brazil (fall semester); and Montevideo, Uruguay. All coursework is conducted in Spanish with occasional readings in English.
Development and Social Change – syllabus
(LACB3005 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
In this seminar, students explore theories of development and models of social change from an interdisciplinary perspective. An emphasis is placed on comparing Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil. In particular, students examine the expansion of the soy model in the region, studying its benefits and potential risks in economic, environmental, and human arenas. Throughout the seminar, students inquire into how marginalized and at-risk populations (for example, unemployed workers, migrant groups, indigenous communities, and women) are affected by these development strategies. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.
Spanish for Social Sciences and Development I – syllabus
(SPAN2000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Spanish for Social Sciences and Development II – syllabus
(SPAN2500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Spanish for Social Sciences and Development III – syllabus
(SPAN3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Spanish for Social Sciences and Development IV – syllabus
(SPAN3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
This course allows students to hone their speaking, reading, and writing skills through classroom and field instruction. They practice reading professional social science literature as they learn both formal terms and local expressions needed to discuss development issues, to conduct field research, and to interact in settings (such as nongovernmental organizations and grassroots associations) related to the program themes. Students are placed in small classes based on an in-country evaluation that tests both written and oral proficiency.
Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
In this research methods course designed to prepare students for the Independent Study Project, students learn how to organize and conduct a research project. Students study and practice basic social science methods through lectures, readings, and field activities, with a special focus on qualitative methods. They examine the ethical issues surrounding field research related to the program themes and are guided through the World Learning / SIT Human Subjects Review process, which forms a core component of the course. By the end of the course, students will have chosen a research topic, selected appropriate methods, and written a solid proposal for an Independent Study Project related to the program themes. All coursework is conducted in Spanish, with occasional readings in English.
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
Conducted in Buenos Aires or in another approved location appropriate to the project, the Independent Study Project offers students the opportunity to conduct field research on a topic of their choice within the program’s thematic parameters. The project integrates learning from the various components of the program and culminates in a final presentation and formal research paper. One of the many advantages of this program is the wide range of themes that can be explored through the region. Sample topic areas: bilateral government-owned development projects; immigration policy changes; development of corporate social responsibility; women’s political participation; changes in political participation; eliminating child labor; sustainability of agricultural export production; gender issues; challenges of indigenous communities; environmental issues in the region; women’s agenda; political party strategies; implementation of agro-ecological and organic models for production; comparative policies between countries of the Southern Cone; implementation of fair trade policies.


Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Billboard about MERCOSUR farmersExcursions and Classes on the Benefits and Threats of the Expansion of the Soy Model

In the past, regional farmers across the MERCOSUR countries produced a variety of grains. Recently, this has changed because of rising soy bean prices and market demands. Today, MERCOSUR farmers produce mostly soy beans, and Argentina is the world’s third-largest producer after the US and Brazil. This transformation in Argentina’s agricultural structure has created social conflict and has introduced potential environmental risks. You will learn about the introduction of genetically modified seeds and the social, environmental, and economic impacts of mono cropping. There will be lectures and excursions on this topic at different points in the semester, where you will be presented with contrasting views around the production benefits of soy and potential risks for the future.

Porto Alegre, Brazil (spring semester only)

During the spring semester, the program spends five days in Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, a state in southern Brazil. During this period, you will learn about Brazilian history, politics, regional integration, and the construction of Brazilian identity. The excursion provides the opportunity to do the following:

  • Visit a Landless Workers Movement (MST) camp and settlement. The MST is a national movement of individuals struggling to obtain land for small rural family producers. The MST stresses cooperative and organic food production.
  • Meet with a group of local university students at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) who have successfully struggled for admissions quotas for Afro-Brazilian students at UFRGS, overcoming widespread opposition and indifference.
  • Visit an indigenous community near Porto Alegre and discover how their culture is influenced by globalization.
  • Visit an urban quilombo, where students meet African descendants and learn about their current challenges. Quilombos were originally the settlements of escaped slaves. These settlements provided places of freedom residents could resist oppression and inhumane living conditions. Most of the families currently living here are descendants of slaves.
  • Receive instruction in basic Portuguese. 

São Paulo, Brazil (fall semester only)

Sao Paulo

Over the course of five days during the fall semester, the program will visit São Paulo, the financial center of Brazil and one of the most important cities of the Southern Cone. During this period, you will learn about Brazilian history, politics, regional integration, and the construction of Brazilian identity. The excursion will be conducted in partnership with the IIEP, a nonprofit organization that develops and participates in research and seminars on issues surrounding labor relations and education. The excursion provides the opportunity to do the following:

  • Hear lectures at the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas from well-known professors from the University of São Paulo on themes related to Brazil’s recent history and current reality as well as the changing regional and international agendas of Brazil.
  • Meet with an international human rights organization, CONECTAS, to discuss inequalities in urban settings and talk with representatives of the World March of Women.
  • Visit a Homeless Workers Movement (Movimento de Trabalhadores Sem Teto – MTST) occupation.
  • Receive an introduction to samba through an informal talk with afrodescendent youth and an evening samba show.
  • Visit a Landless Workers Movement (MST) school and settlement in São José dos Campos. The MST is a national movement of individuals struggling to obtain land for small rural family producers. The MST stresses cooperative and organic food production.


housing cooperative in UruguayMontevideo, Uruguay’s capital city, is home to the headquarters of the regional trade organization of MERCOSUR as well as the Association for Latin American Integration (ALADI). During a three-day visit to Montevideo, and after a series of lectures in Buenos Aires and Montevideo (Universidad Nacional de la Republica), you will come to understand the different understandings of and challenges around regional integration in the South. You will visit both the headquarters of MERCOSUR and ALADI and gain insight into contemporary economic and political issues affecting the most equal and developed country within Latin America: Uruguay.


ParaguayParaguay faces important challenges in terms of political and economic sustainability, with indigenous communities, peasants, and women’s social movements persistently fighting for a more inclusive country where their voices and interests can be heard. In the capital city of Asunción, you will study and analyze issues around poverty, exclusion, and contemporary and past human rights violations.

Throughout this five-day excursion, you can take advantage of SIT’s local partnership with Centro de Documentación y Estudio (CDE), one of Paraguay’s most important research institutions. The group also visits memory sites related to past dictatorships in Paraguay and other Latin American countries.

Nuria PenaNuria Pena, Academic Director

Nuria Pena graduated from London Guildhall University in the UK with a major in political science and a minor in French. She later earned an MA in political science from Leiden University and an MA in development studies from Nijmegen University, both in the Netherlands. She is currently a PhD candidate in social sciences at IDES-Universidad de Sarmiento. While she was born in Argentina, Nuria has lived and worked 12 years abroad, mainly in London, Amsterdam, and Barcelona. Over the years, she continues to carry out consultancy work for international development agencies on issues relating to development with a focus on gender and development. She worked for Oxfam International for five years in various positions, where she carried out several missions to West and Northeast Africa and parts of Latin America, mainly Brazil and Nicaragua. 

Prior to becoming the academic director for the Argentina: Transnationalism and Comparative Development in South America program, Nuria was the assistant director and interim academic director of the Argentina: Social Movements and Human Rights program.

Read Nuria Pena’s complete CV.

Julieta Impemba, Homestay and Student Affairs Coordinator

Julieta Impemba joined SIT in 2012 and, as of January 2013, she assumed the role of homestay and student affairs coordinator. In 2013, Julieta worked together with program staff and students to publish a book about women’s rights entitled Desarrollo y Derechos de las Mujeres: Participación y liderazgo en organizaciones comunitarias. Recently, she has completed her undergraduate degree in social sciences, humanities, and economics at UADE University (Universidad Argentina de la Empresa).

Pablo MorgadePablo Morgade, Program Assistant

As program assistant, Pablo manages program logistics and helps oversee the program’s day-to-day activities. He also assists students with any daily issues that may arise. He has been associated with SIT since 2002. Pablo received his diploma in journalism from the Lomas de Zamora University and Taller Escuela Agencia (TEA). He has worked as a freelance journalist for a number of Argentine national newspapers such as Pagina/12, La Nación, Clarín, and La Maga. During the 1990s, Pablo worked in the Press and Cultural Promotion Department of the Secretary of Cultural Affairs and was the host of a rock-and-roll radio show at FM La Boca. He is the co-author of Música y Dictadura – Porqué Cantábamos (Music and Dictatorship – Why We Were Singing).

Faculty and lecturers typically include:

Marcela Cerrutti, PhD

Dr. Cerrutti is in charge of the thematic seminar’s module on regional migration. Dr. Cerrutti holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Buenos Aires, a master’s degree in social sciences from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO ARGENTINA), and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin. She is an adjunct member of the National Commission of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) and a full-time researcher for the Population Studies Center. She has received a number of scholarships and fellowships from important institutions such as the Ford Foundation, the Organization of American States, the Population Council of the Texas University at Austin, the Mellon Foundation, the Fogarty Program, the Antorchas Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Jacobs Foundation, among others. She has been a consultant for international organizations such as CEPAL, CELADE, PNUD, and UNICEF. 

Ernesto Cussianovich, MA

Mr. Cussianovich directs the thematic seminar’s module on Argentine history. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Buenos Aires and has completed postgraduate studies in the UK and Spain. He holds a master’s degree in economic history from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a diploma in management of nonprofit organizations from the University of San Pablo CEU, Madrid. He is currently a professor at Torcuato Di Tella University, teaching courses on Argentine history and a seminar on the origins and evolution of the Peronist movement. Additionally, Mr. Cussianovich teaches a seminar on budget and taxation in the Public Policy Department at Torcuato Di Tella University. His current research is in the area of Argentine economic history with a focus on fiscal history and taxation. He has also worked as a teacher and researcher at the Universidad de Buenos Aires and as manager of governance and society at the British Council. 

Laura Perelman, MA

Ms. Perelman directs the thematic seminar’s module on social change in Argentina. Ms. Perelman has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Buenos Aires and holds a master’s degree in political science from San Martin University. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Buenos Aires. She specializes in labor markets, government regulation, and union intervention in social conflicts. She has worked as an external consultant for the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

Germán Pinazo, ABD 

Germán Pinazo is in charge of the thematic seminar’s module on economic development. Mr. Pinazo holds a master’s degree in political economics with a focus on the Argentine economy from FLASCO (Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales). He is a doctoral candidate in social sciences at the National University of Buenos Aires. Currently, he is a professor and researcher of political economics at the National University of General Sarmiento. He is the author of several refereed articles, such as “Desarrollo latinoamericano en el marco de la globalización” (2011), working papers, and other publications. 

Hernán Soltz, MA

Mr. Soltz is in charge of the thematic seminar’s module on regional economy. Mr. Soltz has a bachelor’s degree in economy from the University of Buenos Aires and is currently a PhD candidate at the same university. He is a member of the Board of the National Commission of Foreign Trade (Ministry of Economy and Production). He is an adjunct researcher with the Globalization Study Program at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Buenos Aires. He currently teaches at different private and public universities. 

Ivaldo Gehlen, PhD

Ivaldo Gehlen is the academic coordinator of the program’s seminar in Porto Alegre, Brazil. He is also a senior professor at Federal University of Rio Grande Do Sul (UFRGS). Dr. Gehlen holds a BS in sociology from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (1975); a master’s degree in sociology from UFRGS, Brazil; and a PhD in sociology from the University of Paris X, Nanterre, France. He specialized in adult learning and integral rural development at the Regional Center for Adult Learning in Mexico. Dr. Gehlen’s research areas are social movements and agrarian reform in southern Brazil, rural settlements, inequality and social differences, social training in rural areas, agro-industry, and assessment of social realities in rural areas. He has taught classes on planning and management of projects for rural development as well as social inequality in rural areas.

Daniel Morais Angelim, MA

Daniel Morais Angelim is the academic coordinator of the program’s seminar in São Paulo, Brazil. He holds a BS in history and a master’s degree in anthropology. He currently works in the areas of migration and labor and labor and environment of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas. His areas of research have been related to environmental issues such as climate change, extractivism, and energy.  

Alvaro Hugo Rico Fernández, PhD

Alvaro Rico is the academic coordinator of the program’s seminar in Montevideo, Uruguay. Additionally, he is a senior professor and researcher at the University of the Republic Uruguay. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from Moscow State University, Russia. In recent years, he has been part of a major and groundbreaking research project on the disappeared, state terrorism, and human rights violations under the last Uruguayan dictatorship (1973–1985). He is currently working on a research project on ideology and social imagination in Uruguayan recent history.

Quintin Riquelme, MA

Quintin Riquelme is the academic coordinator of the program’s seminar in Asunción, Paraguay. He has a master’s degree in development with a concentration in social anthropology and the environment from the National University of Asunción (Paraguay). He is a senior researcher at the Interdisciplinary Center for Rural Studies (CERI) and at the Center for Documentation and Studies (CIEE). He also serves as Department Chair for the Faculty of Philosophy at the National University of Asunción. He is the author of Without Land in Paraguay: Land Conflicts and Peasant Movement (2003), CLACSO.

Live with a host family in Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires.

homestayFor most of the program (12 weeks), you will live with a host family in Buenos Aires. Living with a host family gives you the perfect opportunity to improve your language skills and gain insight into urban Argentine life. Through the homestay, you will discover the habits, customs, and values of Buenos Aires’ residents. Host families come from middle-class backgrounds and work in many different fields. 

Typically, host families live in apartments or small houses located in the Recoleta, Palermo, Caballito, Villa Crespo, Boedo, Nuñez, and Belgrano neighborhoods, all of which are relatively close to Instituto de Desarrollo Económico y Social, where many classes are held. All host families share a strong interest in having a valuable educational exchange experience with their SIT student. 

You will have the opportunity to engage not only in your host family’s daily routines — which could include shopping, family dinners, and visits with neighbors — but also in cultural activities. Many students join their host family in visiting museums, going to concerts, spending time at neighborhood street markets, attending sports events such as soccer matches, taking weekend trips, or enjoying family celebrations, including birthday parties and national holidays. 

Other accommodations during the program include small hotels and hostels.

Nicole NejadSIT Study Abroad alumna describes how her experience studying abroad in Argentina positioned her for future academic success, including receiving a Fulbright grant.

Studying with SIT in Argentina gave me the opportunity to understand development and social change at a personal level and provided me with links to real communities and people whose daily lives are deeply affected by global integration and development. Read more.

Alumna Isabel Evans (Harvard University) talks about her experience before, during, and after studying abroad in Argentina.

A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Learn what some of them are now doing.

Positions currently held by alumni of this program include:

  • Fulbright scholars in Asia and South America
  • Research associate in Tamil Nadu, India
  • International education specialist in Washington, DC
  • Jesuit Volunteer Corps volunteer in Santiago, Chile

Alumni from this program are also working for international NGOs, the Peace Corps, and development agencies and in finance, business, and migration.

Program Dates: Fall 2016

Program Arrival Date:  Aug 23, 2016

Program Departure Date:    Dec 5, 2016

The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.

Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.

Application Deadline:   Jun 1, 2016

SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $16,030

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • History and politics of Argentina and the Southern Cone
    • Development, regionalization, and local production strategies
    • Social change and recent trends on social conditions 
    • Regional issues and concerns
  • Research Methods and Ethics course and Human Subjects Review
  • Intensive language instruction in Spanish
  • All educational excursions to locations such as Rosario, Argentina; Porto Alegre, Brazil (spring semester only); São Paulo, Brazil (fall semester only); Asuncion, Paraguay; or Montevideo, Uruguay, including all related travel costs
  • Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food) 
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period

Room & Board: $3,945

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, in the program base (Buenos Aires), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay. 
  • The homestay (12 weeks in Buenos Aires) 
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

International Airfare to Program Launch Site

International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses: $ 360

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $ 70

International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.


Tap to display sub-menu choices,
press & hold to open topic in new page.


SIT, 1 Kipling Road, PO Box 676, Brattleboro, VT 05302-0676
802 258-3212, 888 272-7881 (Toll-free in the US), Fax: 802 258-3296 

SIT was founded as the School for International Training and has been known as SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute since 2007. SIT is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

Accreditation | Privacy Policy | Site Map

Copyright 2016. World Learning. All rights reserved.

Back to top