Peru: Indigenous Peoples and Globalization

Key Features

Cantagallo, indigenous community in Lima

In the Peru: Indigenous Peoples and Globalization study abroad program, students examine Peru's traditional and contemporary indigenous societies in the context of Peruvian identity politics and the economic pressures of globalization. With 35 to 45 percent of the country's population identifying as either an Andean peasant or as a member of a native Amazonian community, Peru is an ideal location to learn about and observe firsthand the pressures indigenous peoples currently face. Students are challenged to scrutinize the complexities of multiple identities, transformation, and marginalization visible in Peru today.

Program Components
In addition to the in-country orientation and concluding reentry and wrap-up exercises, the program consists of the following components:

  • A six-week homestay in Cuzco during which students take intensive Spanish and Quechua language instruction and begin their thematic seminars on indigenous peoples and globalization, as well as their Research Methods and Ethics course.
  • Three weeks of educational excursions
  • Multiple field visits throughout the program
  • A four-week Independent Study Project

In the first phase of the program, students spend six weeks living with a homestay family in middle class neighborhoods located 10–15 minutes from downtown Cuzco. Students participate in lectures on topics such as political violence, Andean and Amazonian cultures, gender issues, indigenous movements, international indigenous law and human rights, extractive industries, and the environment.

Sunset over the river along the village of 20 de Enero, Loreto Province

Research Methods and Ethics
Field-based exercises are an essential component of the program. The Research Methods and Ethics course focuses on field research methods and the ethical considerations of conducting field research in a study abroad context. In the course, students will study various topics such as appropriate methodologies; research proposal development; gathering, organizing, and communicating data; developing skills in observation and interviewing; and research ethics and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy.

Assignments provide an opportunity for students to test these and other techniques introduced during the course, while providing opportunities for in-depth discussions. Throughout the course, students work to properly develop their research proposals for their Independent Study Project. By the end of the course, students significantly advance their initial ideas, assumptions, and drafts in close consultation with their academic director. 
Independent Study Project (ISP)
Students spend the last month of the program working on an Independent Study Project (ISP) in which they conduct primary research on a selected topic. The ISP allows students to directly apply the concepts and skills learned in the thematic seminars and Research Methods and Ethics course, while providing the opportunity for students to deepen their knowledge of a topic of particular significance to them. Sample ISP topic areas include but are not limited to:

  • Role of oral histories, legends, and myths in ethno-cultural preservation
  • Grassroots empowerment
  • Ecotourism as a community development model
  • Interaction of urban-rural communities
  • Generational dynamics in cultural pride and heritage
  • Cross-cultural education
  • Environmental conservation and extractive industry conflicts
  • Changing agricultural practices

Role of the ISP Advisor
The ISP advisor is generally a host national or long-time foreign resident in Peru who has expertise in the student's field of interest. Advisors include host-country academics, field professionals, and other experts. The advisor works with the student on the design and implementation of the research project. Generally, students will meet with their advisor prior to the initiation of research to explore the student’s plan and preliminary project proposal. Once the research plan has been agreed upon, the student and advisor meet or communicate regularly to monitor the progress of the research and to discuss unexpected issues that may arise. With the culmination of the research portion of the ISP, the student meets or communicates with their advisor to discuss the data and results of the fieldwork.

Costs Dates

Credits: 17

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Cuzco

Language Study: Quechua,  Spanish

Prerequisites: 4 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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