Bolivia: Multiculturalism, Globalization, and Social Change

Key Features

The SIT Bolivia program offers students a wide range of experiences in different communities and the opportunity to interact with families, community leaders, diverse experts, and organizations as they explore community well-being in Bolivia.

Exploring Cochabamba
The program is based in Cochabamba, located in the heart of Bolivia, nestled within a valley surrounded by the Andes mountain range. It is strongly influenced by indigenous Quechua culture and is often referred to as the "city of eternal spring" due to its pleasant temperate climate. The city is home to the largest outdoor market in Latin America, and, although its metropolitan population has reached one million, it is difficult to walk through the center of town or through one of its many beautiful parks and plazas without bumping into someone you know. 

Students dancing with host families during the village stay on the shores of Lake Titicaca

Take part in three homestays.
During the first six weeks of the program, students live with urban host families in Cochabamba. As part of the seminar on community well-being and resilience, students will also have the opportunity to live for five days with an Aymara host family on the shores of Lake Titicaca and for two days with a host family in the rural Bolivian Amazon.

Engage with academic, professional, and community experts.
Students are exposed to a wide range of people and perspectives. Students meet local families in Cochabamba, indigenous community members in the tropical and highland regions, NGO workers and aid experts, spiritual leaders, feminist activists, artists, and others. The program looks at issues from many perspectives to productively complicate students’ understanding of community well-being and resilience.

Develop your ability to work with communities.
Learn how diverse local cultures perceive and live in communities. Students engage with the controversial question about what it means to “help” as an outsider and learn firsthand what is unique and important for community resilience. This aspect of the program helps prepare students for possible career paths in community work.

Take part in a final workshop.
The final workshop is tailored to linking these experiences in Bolivia with community work in other sites. Students consider a number of questions related to community work, including: How can one best enter into a community and try to be helpful? How might the experience of having examined indigenous and Western concepts related to well-being affect the way you take on future work with families, community organizations, and others?

Develop your Spanish or Quechua skills.
Build your Spanish skills for use onsite and in the future, or add Quechua to your language learning. In addition to small-group language courses, almost all program components are conducted in Spanish. Students who place out of our advanced level course may choose to take advanced literature or Quechua courses instead (for an additional cost).

Participate in notable excursions and events.
The group travels to communities in the Andean Altiplano and the Amazonian lowlands.

Student conducting an interview for her ISP

Complete an Independent Study Project (ISP).
All students produce a final Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP offers students the opportunity to conduct field research on a topic of their choice within the program’s broad concerns. The ISP can be conducted in Cochabamba or other sites in Bolivia, as approved by the academic director. While some students choose to produce an extended research paper, other students choose a nontraditional format, such as documentary, dance, theater, photography, or a bilingual children's book as part of their Independent Study Project.

Sample topic areas for the ISP include:

  • Systems of Andean community justice in rural communities
  • Integrating traditional midwives into rural community hospitals serving indigenous families
  • Using dance to visibilize discrimination against Afro-Bolivians
  • Decolonizing education within Bolivia’s rural indigenous universities
  • Psychology of children of Bolivian migrants
  • Women leading the fight against mining contamination in their communities


Costs Dates



Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Cochabamba

Language Study: Quechua,  Spanish

Prerequisites: 3 semesters Spanish Read more...

Bolivia

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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