Argentina | Study Abroad | Social Movements | Human Rights | Mapuche

Argentina: Social Movements and Human Rights

Study Argentina's social movements and the country's historical and current struggles to guarantee human rights for its diverse populations.

Located in the vibrant capital city of Buenos Aires, this program examines Argentina’s prolific and highly dynamic social movements. The program’s office is in one of the most renowned research institutions in Buenos Aires, the Centro de Estudios de Estado y Sociedad (CEDES), one of the top think tanks in Latin America. You will meet with social activists, local scholars, indigenous leaders, rural organizers, popular educators, environmental advocates, female and worker activists, and community muralists.

Major topics of study include:

  • Argentina’s political and social history  
  • International system of human rights protection
  • Human rights and the struggle for justice and social change, from theoretical and applied perspectives
  • Theory and practice of social movements
  • Memory and memorialization
  • Identity and diversity in social movements

This program provides firsthand experience with different types of grassroots organizations fighting for human rights and social welfare in Argentina. You will be exposed to the ongoing struggles of social movements working for justice and equality, including workers taking on factory bosses, peasants fighting to maintain their livelihood, and indigenous peoples organizing to retain their land, identity, and natural resources. 

Program components

In addition to the in-country orientation and evaluation period, the program consists of the following components:

  • A six-week homestay in Buenos Aires during which time you will receive intensive Spanish language instruction and begin the Research Methods and Ethics course and two thematic seminars on social movements and human rights. You will undertake short field visits around the city to social and human rights organizations.
  • Three weeks of educational field excursions throughout Argentina, a trip to Patagonia, a trip to the northwestern region, and a visit to the vibrant and young city of Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe.
  • A four-week Independent Study Project period

Engage in service projects with members of the local community.

Students and teachers of SIT and Chiuquilihuin school

In addition to program coursework, you will engage in hands-on community service work. While in Buenos Aires, you can choose among a variety of volunteer opportunities including working at a shelter for women who are victims of violence, a cultural center for kids and muralists, a school, or a community health center.  

You will also participate as a group in one-day projects in diverse environments, such as helping in a soup kitchen in Salta, working with Mapuche women to build an indigenous community center in Patagonia, and painting a mural with underprivileged children at a daycare in a Buenos Aires shantytown. With an emphasis on giving back, community service components are integrated into the program's educational excursions to northwestern Argentina and to Patagonia, and as an optional activity during the time in Buenos Aires.  

Meet with an array of activists in social movements and human rights organizations.

You will engage with activists from a broad array of backgrounds including:

  • Traditional human rights organizations such as the Madres de Plaza de Mayo 
  • Memorials of the dictatorship such as "ESMA" and “Parque de la Memoria” 
  • Workers' cooperatives such as Chilavert 
  • Neighborhood organizations such as La Alameda 
  • Territorial social movements such as Movimiento de Trabajadores Desocupados (MTD)
  • Servicio de Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ)
  • Human rights organizations and social movements related to migration, feminism, Afro-Argentines, LGTBQ issues, state violence victims, alternative communication, popular education (bachilleratos populares), environmental rights; peasant and indigenous communities, and youth activism

*Note: The list of organizations the program visits may change depending on each semester’s calendar.

Rapidly advance your Spanish.

You will receive intensive instruction in Spanish through the program's three-credit language course. Based on in-country evaluation, you will be placed in intensive classes and obtain additional language practice during the homestays, lectures, and field visits. Language courses are delivered in interactive, small-group formats; there are typically no more than seven students to a class. Additionally, you will be encouraged to take advantage of the myriad daily opportunities presented by a Spanish-speaking environment, which provides a source of constant learning. You will be encouraged to go to the theater and enjoy other cultural offerings in Buenos Aires.   

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:

  • Labor rights 
  • Environmental rights
  • Memory and memorialization 
  • Indigenous rights and community 
  • Art as a tool for social transformation 
  • Issues of identity 
  • Women’s rights 
  • LGBTQ and human rights in Argentina
  • Rights of migrants 
  • Rights of Afro-descendents
  • Children’s rights
  • Environmental rights
  • Indigenous participation in social movements

During the ISP, you will integrate different components of the program as you conduct an in-depth investigation of a social movement or organization in Argentina. You will utilize your Spanish and cultural skills and apply the academic knowledge you have acquired while interacting with host communities.

The ISP is a unique opportunity to build a solid foundation for further research for a senior thesis, Fulbright fellowship, or graduate school.


Previous college-level coursework and/or other significant preparation in social work, political economy, development studies, or Latin American studies, as assessed by SIT. Three recent semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in Spanish, as assessed by SIT .

Access virtual library guide.

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

Watch a recent ISP done in video format.

Conducted in Spanish, the thematic courses typically include lectures and discussions on the following topics: political and social history of Argentina; human rights and the struggle for justice, from theoretical and applied perspectives; and theory and practice of social movements, including discussions on the future of social movements and their challenges in the international context. The Research Methods and Ethics course addresses culturally appropriate, ethical field methodology, in preparation for the Independent Study Project (ISP). Spanish language study bolsters students’ ability to communicate, conduct field research, and delve deeply into the culture and theme of the program.

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.

Social Movements and Human Rights in Argentina – syllabus
(LACB3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
This seminar introduces students to social movements and human rights issues in Argentina. Students analyze the roles played by NGOs and other organizations, as well as by broader social movements, in Argentina’s struggle to attain and uphold human rights for its diverse citizens. The seminar includes both theoretical and experiential components, and students learn to draw connections from concepts to case studies and actual issues. The seminar is taught primarily in Buenos Aires with several components in the provinces of Salta, Jujuy, and Santa Fe as well. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.
History and Human Rights in Argentina – syllabus
(LACB3005 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
This course introduces students to Argentina's long struggle to guarantee its diverse populations' human rights, defined broadly to include cultural, civil, political, and other rights. Students examine the history of Argentina's dictatorship, state terrorism, and the Dirty War, focusing on the rampant abuses of human rights and the case of Argentina's desaparecidos (the disappeared). They then examine the present international system of human rights protection and the use of legislation as a tool for social transformation as human rights issues are continually redefined in Argentina. Students also analyze the themes of memory and memorialization. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.
Spanish for Social Sciences I – syllabus
(SPAN2000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Spanish for Social Sciences II – syllabus
(SPAN2500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Spanish for Social Sciences III – syllabus
(SPAN3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Spanish for Social Sciences IV – syllabus
(SPAN3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
In this course, students hone their speaking, reading, and writing skills through classroom and field instruction. They practice reading professional social science literature as they learn the terms and expressions needed to discuss human rights and social movement issues, to conduct field research, and to interact in settings 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. Through lectures, readings, and field activities, students study and practice basic social science methods. They examine the ethical issues surrounding field research related to human rights and other 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.
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. Sample topic areas: labor rights; rights of migrants; issues of identity; women's rights; LGBTQ and human rights in Argentina; indigenous rights and community; memory and memorialization; art as a tool for social transformation; children's rights; indigenous participation in social movements.

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

The Argentina: Social Movements and Human Rights program includes exceptional, field-based learning opportunities for a broader and deeper understanding of course content. You will have the opportunity to visit and live in two different settings of Argentina: the northwest and Patagonia. In each location, intensive seminar sessions are organized by university faculty, development practitioners, government officials, and local community and labor groups.

Northwestern Argentina and Rosario, Santa Fé (two weeks) 

The northwestern region of Argentina is the poorest area in the country. Largely deprived of economic development resources, the region's communities are struggling both to survive and to maintain their distinct cultural traditions. During this excursion, you will examine peasant and gender movements and social economy amidst one of the most beautiful, and least developed, regions of Argentina. You will also analyze opposition to mining projects due to the projects’ environmental impacts. 

  • You will be based in the provincial capital of Salta, a beautiful city with a strong colonial flavor. Based at the foothills of the Andes Mountains, Salta is also well-known as one of Argentina's most traditional and conservative areas and, arguably because of this, is a central location in the struggle for women's rights and the fight against gender-based violence. In Salta, you will hear lecturers and participate in discussions on either gender or social economy at the National University of Salta, which serves as the host institution. You will visit a gender organization focused on women's rights and a community soup kitchen to examine collective coping strategies of the city's indigent residents. 
  • You will visit the magnificent Quebrada de Humahuaca valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site recently declared "Historic Patrimony of Humanity." You will consider the impact tourism has on preserving cultural and economic stability in this community.
  • You will visit a mining project to see how the neighboring communities affected by the mines have organized themselves in protest.

In contrast to Northwestern Argentina, the province of Santa Fe, and especially the city of Rosario, play a big role in the Argentinean strategy related to the global trade of commodities (soy, oil, biodiesel) and the exports from its port. During the stay in Rosario, you will learn about the consequences of these economic changes: the real estate boom, development of agribusiness, pollution and environmental struggles, and the development of drug trafficking.

Patagonia (one week)

The focus of the Patagonia excursion is on the use of human rights and legal resources to support different social movements. Over the years, the region's abundance of natural resources has invited extensive human intervention; mining, tourism, and other human involvement pose challenges for the health of the region's natural environment. You will examine these challenges and the movements working to address them as well as the struggles over land that continue for impoverished and indigenous communities in both urban and rural settings. The excursion also focuses on the conflicts surrounding land access and occupations from a human rights perspective.  

In Bariloche, you will focus on the social and environmental impacts of tourism and experience the efforts that impoverished communities are making for land. While Bariloche is a beautiful city boasting abundant natural resources and stunning landscapes, the "other Bariloche" and the reality of discrimination and poverty endured by many of the city's poor will be your focus. You will also consider the role of environmental movements in preventing the deprivation of natural resources and visit a recycling cooperative created to provide more opportunities within the community. 

In Mapuche communities, you will observe the battle indigenous groups are waging for increased rights and recognition by the Argentine government as well as their attempts to define their fight for land and territory within the definition of community land rights. You will learn about traditional ways of working and living through visits to the local community center where Mapuche women create and sell artisanal crafts, such as woven and handcrafted wood pieces. This allows you to understand more about this community and its role in preserving Mapuche culture while also providing a source of income. 

With a visit to the picturesque national park Nahuel Huapi, you will reflect upon a broader definition of sustainable management and development as a cultural as well as environmental issue.

Ana Laura Lobo, Academic Director

Ana Laura LoboAna Laura Lobo is trained as a sociologist. She has a master’s degree in social investigation from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and has completed doctoral work in social sciences at UBA and the National University of San Martin (UNSAM). Her postgraduate research was completed at the Gino Germani Research Institute, which is part of UBA’s Social Sciences Faculty.

Ana Laura’s research interests include sociology, social justice and human rights, and identifying resources related to the process of social transformation using art and culture, especially dance, theater, and photography. Currently, she is a member of the research project team Human Rights and the Protection of Strategic Resources in Latin America in the 21st Century.

In addition to her role as academic director, she has served as adjunct professor for UNICEF and the judicial power of the province of Buenos Aires. She has lectured at UBA in the fields of sociology and political science and has taught a variety of courses, from Methodology to Social Construction of Collective Memory. Currently, she is teaching Peace Culture and Human Rights, a seminar chaired by Nobel Peace laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel. 

Ana Laura was a postgraduate lecturer at the Walter Benjamin Foundation in the fields of communication and sociology and has taught online thesis seminars at FLACSO. Additionally, she worked as an external advisor to the Argentine Ministry of Industry and Production in the area of small and medium enterprise and regional development on the design and assessment of projects related to social and local economic development. She serves as a technical consultant for Programa de Inclusión Social Envión, an educational and social inclusion program administered by the municipality of Avellaneda.

Ana Laura began her tenure with SIT in 2010 when she became the academic coordinator of SIT’s Regional Integration, Development, and Social Change program, also based in Buenos Aires. In January 2011, she joined the Social Movement and Human Rights Program as associate director. In spring 2014, she served as interim academic director of the program.

Read Ana Laura Lobo's CV.

Eliana Ferradás, Historian, Academic Coordinator

Eliana is a master’s student in journalism and social communication at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata. Her research focuses on Argentinean history and human rights, especially the period of Argentina’s last dictatorship (1976–1983). For several years she volunteered at La Alameda Foundation, a Buenos Aires–based NGO that fights human trafficking. Her background also includes working with and studying the phenomenon of migration in Argentina, and she has taken several courses and seminars related to gender and human rights. She did her undergraduate degree in history at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. She has worked for SIT since 2011, broadening her knowledge on social movements and human rights.

María Eugenia Díaz, Sociologist, Program Assistant

María Eugenia Díaz is a sociologist from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). She is currently working on her master’s degree in social research and finalizing a specialization on social policy planning and management. Her tenure with SIT began in 2011 as a student assistant. In addition to her role with SIT, she works as a researcher in the Department of Social Sciences at the Cultural Center of Cooperation. Her research team focuses on labor exploitation in Argentina. She previously worked at the National Register of Agricultural Workers and Employers in the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, from 2013 to 2016 in the issues of child labor and labor exploitation in the agricultural sector.

Carla Rosciano, Homestay and Student Affairs Coordinator

Carla Rosciano is a graphic designer with a degree from Universidad de Buenos Aires. While developing her skills as a graphic designer, she became involved with human rights and social economy. She currently works at the Buenos Aires Herald, the only media outlet to publish information about the forced disappearances of members of the opposition during the military dictatorship. Nowadays, under different ownership, the newspaper has limited its stances on human rights and progressive politics. Carla is also a member of a workers’ cooperative, allowing her greater involvement in social economy and socialist movements. Carla and her parents have been a host family for several students of this SIT Student Abroad program.

Faculty and lecturers typically include: 

Pablo Vommaro, PhD, Historian

Pablo holds a postdoctoral degree in social science, focusing on childhood and youth, from the Universidad Católica de São Paulo, Universidad de Manizales, CINDE, Colegio de la Frontera Norte, and CLACSO. He holds a PhD in social sciences and a BA in history from Universidad de Buenos Aires, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, where he teaches and researches in undergraduate and graduate schools of education sciences and history.

He is also a researcher at the Oral History Program at Universidad de Buenos Aires, a member of the Foundation for Political and Social Research, and part of the study group on social protest and collective action at Instituto Gino Germani at Universidad de Buenos Aires. He coordinates the CLACSO working group on youth and new political practices in Latin America and is involved with the Latin American Program of Distance Learning in Social Sciences. He is the author of several articles published in collections as well as national and international journals. His areas of research are the history of urban social organizations with a territorial base, the political participation and practices of youth, oral history, and recent Argentine history.

Juan Wahren, PhD, Sociologist

Juan is a sociologist with a master’s degree in social science research and a PhD in social sciences at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. His areas of research include social movements, natural resources struggles, alternative development, territorial struggles, Latin American movements, and popular education.

He is a professor of rural sociology, popular education, and social movements in Latin America and Argentina, and protest / collective action research at the Faculty of Social Science at Universidad de Buenos Aires. Dr. Wahren is also a researcher in the rural studies and the Latin American social movements groups at Instituto Gino Germani at Universidad de Buenos Aires. He is a member of the research team Rural Development: Territorial Struggles, Peasants, and Decolonization at Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLACSO). He also directs investigations within the group Social Movements and Popular Education.

Sonia Winer, PhD, Political Scientist

Sonia holds a degree in political science and a master’s degree in research and Latin American studies from the University of Toulouse Le Mirail and a PhD in social sciences from Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA). Currently, she is a permanent researcher from CONICET at the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean (IEALC), where she directs the research team Democratic Reforms: Advocacy and Human Rights in South America. Her research areas include comparative policies of security and defense and the role of security agencies in Latin America.

She serves as academic coordinator of the Geopolitics and Defense diploma at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters and as professor of the chair Culture for Peace and Human Rights from the Faculty of Social Science at UBA.

Matías Aizenberg, Historian

Matias is a history professor and received his degree from Universidad de Buenos Aires. He is currently an associate professor teaching Problems in Argentinean History at the National University and Arturo Jauretche and Economic and Social History of Argentina at Universidad de Buenos Aires. He is pursuing a master’s degree in cultural sociology and cultural analysis at the National University of San Martín. His work has focused on urban studies and the history of the Peronist party. He has published several academic articles, including a book about the history of social housing in Argentina.

Ernesto Cussianovich, MA, Economic History

Ernesto holds an MA in economic history from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BA in history from Universidad de Buenos Aires. He is a history lecturer at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella and Universidad Palermo and has also been a history lecturer at Universidad de Buenos Aires. He is currently a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme. Ernesto has worked and studied in France, the United Kingdom, and Japan. His teaching and research areas include Argentine and Latin American history, state theory, and public policy.

Keynote speakers/guests lecturers: Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (Nobel Peace Prize recipient) and Dr. Maristella Svampa.  

My homestay experience was incredible and one of the best parts of [my] semester abroad. I had a great family that engaged me in the culture, and this is where I could see my language skills grow.

Program alum

homestay familyThe Argentina: Social Movements and Human Rights program includes both an urban and rural homestay, giving you the opportunity to experience two very different Argentine communities. Homestays provide you with exceptional access to the culture and daily life of your host families and offer further context for language and thematic coursework. 

Buenos Aires

You will live with a family in Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital and largest city, for six weeks. Buenos Aires offers an outstanding array of cultural assets and offerings, which many students enjoy together with their families. Most host families are middle-class and live in apartments or small houses in the city. All students live in the Capital Federal District.  

Rural Homestay

During the excursion to Patagonia, you will immerse yourself in rural indigenous life by staying two days with a Mapuche community in the beautiful Patagonian mountains, where you will participate in community life and daily activities. The rural homestay gives you the opportunity to experience another kind of lifestyle, completely opposite to the one in Buenos Aires, and to better understand the challenges faced by rural communities in Argentina.

Other accommodations during the program include small hotels and hostels.

Read spring 2015 student Jordan Houston’s (Smith College) op-ed in The Huffington Post.

Alum Looks at Ways to End Violence

Trinity University junior Caitlyn Yates examined drug-related violence for her Independent Study Project and discovered the impact of peaceful protest in promoting social change. Read more.

Alum Awarded Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

Wheaton College senior Kelly Maby has been intrigued with trash since she was a child growing up in New York, when she and her brother collected cans and bottles to support their low-income family. That childhood fascination with the value of discarded objects and an intellectual curiosity about the waste scavengers she encountered during her study abroad has earned her a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.

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.

Alumni of this program are currently working:

  • as researchers, graduate students, interns, volunteers, and journalists.
  • for the United Nations, US embassies, NGOs, and the Peace Corps.
  • in advocacy, human rights, international relations, education, and policy making.

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: $15,830

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • Political and social history of Argentina
    • Human rights and the struggle for justice
    • Theory and practice of social movements
    • Social movements in Argentina
  • Research Methods and Ethics course on research methods and Human Subjects Review
  • Intensive language instruction in Spanish
  • All educational excursions to locations such as northwestern Argentina and Patagonia, including all related travel costs
  • Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food) 
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period

Room & Board: $3,420

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time 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. 
  • All homestays (six weeks in Buenos Aires and a rural homestay, living with an indigenous community in the south)
  • 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: $ 160

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $ 100

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.



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