Bolivia: Multiculturalism, Globalization, and Social Change


Three recent semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in Spanish, as assessed by SIT.

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The two thematic seminars encompass six broadly defined and related areas of inquiry. Each area entails a series of lectures, readings, and in some cases, short fieldwork assignments carried out individually or in small groups. Major thematic areas of study are as follows:

  • Historical and economic foundations of social change
  • Social and grassroots movements and the decolonization of development practices
  • Andean and Amazonian cultures and cosmovision
  • The reclaiming of pluricultural identities and creative responses to globalization
  • Environmental issues and indigenous movements
  • The politics of contemporary issues

The following syllabi are either from a recent session of this program or for an upcoming session. 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.

Historical and Contemporary Social Change in Bolivia -syllabus (PDF)
(LACB 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The Historical and Contemporary Social Change seminar is a 3-credit course (45 class hours).  The seminar explores the historical and present struggles of colonization and de-colonization in a country with the largest indigenous population in Latin America and some of the historically strongest and most well-organized social movements in the Americas. The course covers social change and social movements in Bolivia including pre-Incan societies; indigenous resistance to Spanish colonization; the national revolution of 1952 and subsequent agrarian reform; labor movements including miners’ and campesino unions; the military dictatorships of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s; Bolivian feminist movements; the coca grower’s movement against the US-waged war on drugs; contemporary uprising against privatization and neoliberal economic policy during the water and gas rebellions of 2000 and 2003; and finally, an analysis of current efforts toward de-colonization under Evo Morales, the first indigenous president in the Americas. Students will consider the influence of Andean and Amazonian cosmovision and systems of knowledge in the articulations of new, creative visions of social change in Bolivia. This course includes lectures by leading academics in Cochabamba as well as by intellectuals and leaders of social movements on excursions to La Paz, El Alto and Potosí.

Multiculturalism and Globalization in Bolivia - syllabus (PDF)
(LACB 3005 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The Multiculturalism and Globalization seminar is designed to provide firsthand academic and experiential knowledge about the interplay between multiculturalism and globalization in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, a country with 36 ethnic groups and the largest indigenous population in the Americas. Students will learn about Andean and Amazonian cosmovisión (worldviews) and cultural practices, and how various indigenous communities and grassroots movements in Bolivia are reclaiming their cultural identities and creatively responding to the pressures of an increasingly globalized world. This course comprises a lecture series given by local academics, professionals, artists, and activists and educational field excursions to Sucre, La Paz, the tropical lowlands, and a rural Quechua or Aymara village. Field experiences are carefully structured to enhance coursework and assigned readings. The seminar also includes directed discussions of lectures, experiences, readings, and investigations outside of the classroom. 

Intensive Language Study: Spanish for the Social Sciences I - syllabus (PDF)
(SPAN 2500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Intensive Language Study: Spanish for the Social Sciences II - syllabus (PDF)
(SPAN 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Guided Self-Instruction: Advanced Literature - syllabus (PDF)
(GSI 4000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Guided Self-Instruction: Specialized Language Study - syllabus (PDF)
(GSI 4500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Intensive Language Study: Quechua I - syllabus (PDF)
(QUEC 1000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in intensive intermediate or advanced Spanish classes, with further language practice in homestays, lectures, and field visits. Emphasis is on speaking, reading, and writing skills through classroom and field instruction. In lieu of the Spanish courses, and for an additional fee, students already fluent in Spanish may choose either to study Quechua or to participate in either one of the Guided Self-Instruction courses. Students who choose the Guided Self-Instruction: Advanced Literature course will meet weekly with a prominent Bolivian author to discuss selected works. Students who choose the Guided Self-Instruction: Specialized Language Study will have the opportunity to combine intensive language study with field research or field work with a local organization. Quechua language instruction will be taught either by a private Quechua language teacher or by an instructor at the Instituto IIca.

Research Methods and Ethics - syllabus (PDF)
(ANTH 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course covers the concepts of learning across cultures and from field experience, servingas an introduction to the Independent Study Project. Material includes cross-cultural adaptation and skills building; project selection and refinement; appropriate methodologies; field study ethics and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy; developing contacts and finding resources; developing skills in observation and interviewing; gathering, organizing, and communicating data; maintaining a work journal.

Independent Study Project - syllabus (PDF)
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
The ISP is conducted in Cochabamba, La Paz, or in another approved location in Bolivia appropriate to the project. Students pursue original research on a selected subject requiring deep investigation and analysis, which results in an extended research paper. Students also have the option of producing a documentary film or writing and illustrating a children’s book on their selected topic. Sample topic areas: film and social change; migration and family survival strategies; impact of the neoliberal development model; role of women in civil society; legacy of liberation theology today; globalization and water politics in Cochabamba; the struggle between indigenous and multinational companies over environmental rights and the nationalization of natural resources; the struggle over land rights in indigenous communities; the effect of urban violence on women in marginalized communities; the integration of traditional and Western medicine; ethno-development and cultural change; application of educational reform; the effects of global warming on glaciers in the Andes.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Cochabamba

Language Study: Quechua,  Spanish

Prerequisites: 3 semesters Spanish


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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