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Argentina: Social Movements and Human Rights

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). Students meet with social activists, local scholars, indigenous leaders, rural organizers, environmental advocates, female activists, and community muralists.

Major topics of study include:

  • Argentina’s political and social history  
  • Human rights and the struggle for justice, from theoretical and applied perspectives
  • Theory and practice of social movements
  • Memory and memorialization
  • International System of Human Rights Protection

This program provides firsthand experience with different types of grassroots organizations fighting for human rights and social welfare in Argentina. Students are 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 and identity. 

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 students receive intensive Spanish language instruction and begin the Research Methods and Ethics course and two thematic seminars on social movements and human rights. Students 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 Bolivian border
  • A four-week Independent Study Project

Engage in service projects with members of the local community.

Students and teachers of SIT and Chiuquilihuin schoolIn addition to program coursework, students engage in hands-on community service work. While in Buenos Aires, they 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.  

Students 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.

Students 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
  • Workers' cooperatives such as Chilavert 
  • Neighborhood organizations such as La Alameda 
  • Social movements such as the Movimiento de Trabajadores Desocupados (MTD)

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

Rapidly advance your Spanish.

Students receive intensive instruction in Spanish through the program's three-credit language course. Based on in-country evaluation, students are 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, students are encouraged to take advantage of the myriad daily opportunities presented by a Spanish-speaking environment which provides a source of constant learning. Students are encouraged to go to the theater and enjoy other cultural offerings in Buenos Aires.   

Independent Study Project

Students 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 them. The ISP is conducted in Buenos Aires or another approved location appropriate to the project.

Sample topic areas for the ISP include:

  • 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 
  • Children’s rights
  • Indigenous participation in social movements

During the ISP, students integrate different components of the program as they conduct an in-depth investigation of a social movement or organization in Argentina. Students utilize their Spanish and cultural skills and apply the academic knowledge they 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 sociology, 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.

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 of 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
(LACB 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
In this seminar, students focus on social movements that have emerged as Argentines demand human rights and protest a range of sociopolitical inequities and injustices. Students analyze social movements from the 1990s to the present, focusing on both political and social contexts, and asking who has been included or excluded from these efforts. They consider the challenges faced by these movements at the local, national, and international levels. The course includes both a theoretical component and case studies that allow students to apply the concepts to actual issues. By the end of the seminar, students are able to identify and analyze the ways in which Argentine scholars address and frame questions of human rights and social justice and to assess new models of community-based social, political, and economic organization. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

History and Human Rights in Argentina – syllabus
(LACB 3005 / 3 credits / 45 class 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.

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class 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.

Spanish for Social Sciences I – syllabus
(SPAN 2000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours) 
Spanish for Social Sciences II – syllabus
(SPAN 2500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours) 
Spanish for Social Sciences III – syllabus
(SPAN 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Spanish for Social Sciences IV – syllabus
(SPAN 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class 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.

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class 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 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.

Watch a recent ISP done in video format.

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

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. Students 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 (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, students examine peasant and gender movements and social economy amidst one of the most beautiful, and least developed, regions of Argentina. They also analyze opposition to mining projects due to the projects’ environmental impacts. 

  • Students are 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, students hear lecturers and participate in discussions on either gender or social economy at the National University of Salta, which serves as the host institution. Students 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. 
  • Students visit the magnificent Quebrada de Humahuaca valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site recently declared "Historic Patrimony of Humanity." Students consider the impact tourism has on preserving cultural and economic stability in this community.
  • Students visit a mining project to see how the neighboring communities affected by the mines have organized themselves in protest.

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. Students 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, students 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, students focus on the "other Bariloche" and the reality of discrimination and poverty endured by many of the city's poor. Students 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, students 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. Students 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 hand-crafted wood pieces. This allows students 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, students 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 LoboBy training, Ana Laura Lobo is a sociologist. She has a master’s degree in social investigation from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). Through scholarships from UBA and CONICET, she has also completed doctoral work in social sciences at UBA and the National University of San Martin (UNSAM) and will defend her thesis in the coming months. 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. In addition to her role as academic director, she is an adjunct professor for UNICEF and the judicial power of the province of Buenos Aires. She has been lecturing 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.

Much of her past professional experiences have centered on teaching, lecturing, and advising; she was a postgraduate lecturer at the Walter Benjamin Foundation in the fields of communication and sociology, and she has also taught online thesis seminars at FLACSO. Additionally, Ana Laura had the opportunity to work as an external advisor to the Argentine Ministry of Industry and Production in the area of small and medium enterprise and regional development. In her role as advisor, Ana Laura worked on the design and assessment of projects related to social and local economic development. She also 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. Shortly thereafter, in January of 2011, she joined the Social Movement and Human Rights Program as the associate director. In spring 2014, Ana Laura served as interim academic director of the program.

Eliana Ferradás, Program Assistant

Eliana is a history teacher and received her degree from the Universidad de Buenos Aires. She specializes in Argentine history and human rights, focusing on Argentina’s last dictatorship. Eliana has done volunteer work in a shantytown, and has been collaborating for several years with Fundación La Alameda, an organization focused on 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 has worked for SIT since 2011, broadening her knowledge on social movements and human rights. 

Faculty and lecturers typically include: 

Pablo Vommaro, PhD, Historian

Dr. Vommaro is a historian whose main area of teaching and research is the recent history of social movements in Argentina. He holds a PhD in social sciences and a BA in history from Universidad de Buenos Aires. His dissertation was entitled “Politics, territory and community: urban social organizations in the southern area of Buenos Aires (1970–2000).” Dr. Vommaro 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, Instituto Gino Germani, Universidad de Buenos Aires. He coordinates the CLACSO work group “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

Dr. Wahren is a sociologist whose main area of teaching and research is theory and struggles of social movements. He holds a PhD in social sciences, a master’s degree in social science research and a BA in sociology from the Universidad de Buenos Aires. His thesis was entitled “Social Movements and Struggles for Territory and Natural Resources in Latin American. The Union of Unemployed Workers of Gral. Mosconi (Argentina) and the Pueblo Guaraní Assembly (Bolivia): 1995–2010.” Dr. Wahren is also a researcher at the rural studies and the Latin American social movements groups at Instituto Gino Germani and the Universidad de Buenos Aires. He is a member of the work group entitled Rural Development: Territorial Struggles, Peasants, and Decolonialidad at Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLACSO), and directs investigations within the group of Social Movements and Popular Education. Additionally, he has authored several articles published in collections as well as national and international journals. His areas of research include social movements, natural resources struggles, alternative development, territorial struggles, Latin American movements, and popular education.

Matías Triguboff, PhD, Anthropologist

Dr. Triguboff is a researcher who has focused his work on the formation of neighborhood assemblies and the process of decentralization of the local government of the city of Buenos Aires. He holds a PhD in social anthropology from Universidad de Buenos Aires and a postdoctoral scholarship from CONICET at the Institute of Anthropological Sciences, Universidad de Buenos Aires. His current research project is entitled “Communes in the city of Buenos Aires: An analysis of a complex relationship between state and civil society.” He is a lecturer at the School of Political Science, Department of Anthropological Sciences, Universidad de Buenos Aires. His research areas include political anthropology, the state, collective action, social movements, and citizen participation.

Andrés Ruggeri, Anthropologist

Mr. Ruggeri is an anthropologist who has been involved with the recuperated factories movement and coordinates programs at Universidad de Buenos Aires that provide different resources to these social movements. He is the director of the Continuing Studies Program, Universidad Abierta, at Universidad de Buenos Aires, which is related to the Documentation Center of Recuperated Factories. Mr. Ruggeri coordinates the research team Recuperated Factories and Self-Management Processes and directs the training team for workers of the Argentina Federation of Energy Workers (FETERA-CTA). He also participates in a research program on scientific-technological transference to recuperated factories. He is the author of several articles on recuperated factories and self-management and the co-author of the book Recuperated Factories in Argentina.

Ernesto Cussianovich, MA, Economic History

Mr. Cussianovich 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. Mr. Cussianovich 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. 

Valeria Barbuto, Anthropologist and Human Rights Researcher

Ms. Barbuto has worked for ten years at the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), one of the most important Argentine human rights organizations. As part of CELS, she is a human rights researcher for the Program of Memory and the Fight Against Impunity of State Terrorism. Her research is focused on justice processes, reparation, and the memory politics of serious human rights violations. Ms. Barbuto is a member of the political and legal anthropology research team at the School of Anthropology, Universidad de Buenos Aires. This group includes researchers and professors focused on institutional violence, human rights, and democracy. 

Maria Capurro, Human Rights Expert

Ms. Capurro holds a law degree from Universidad de Buenos Aires. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. She worked for many years at Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, one of Argentina’s most prominent human rights organizations. She currently works for the human rights organization Memoria Abierta, coordinating a group of human rights researchers. Ms. Capurro is also a member of a research group at the Human Rights Center, Universidad Nacional de Lanús. Additionally, she is part of a project on the advancement of child rights, supported by UNICEF Argentina.

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 students the opportunity to experience two very different Argentine communities. Homestays provide students with exceptional access to the culture and daily life of their host families and offer further context for language and thematic coursework. 

Buenos Aires

Students 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, students immerse themselves in rural indigenous life by staying two days with a Mapuche community in the beautiful Patagonian mountains where they participate in community life and daily activities. The rural homestay gives students 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.

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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.

Program Dates: Fall 2015

Program Start Date:  Aug 25, 2015

Program End Date:    Dec 7, 2015

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:   May 15, 2015


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: $15,580

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:$3,170

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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