Puerto Rico

Environmental Justice & Activism–IHP Climate Change (3 wks)

Examine the socio-environmental impacts of climate change in Puerto Rico and learn how grassroots collective action can create just and sustainable futures.

At a Glance






Nov 30 ‎– Dec 21

Program Countries

United States

Program Base

Puerto Rico

Critical Global Issue of Study

Climate & Environment

Climate & Environment Icon

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon


Given its geography as an island in the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Rico presents pronounced physical vulnerabilities to climate change in the form of worsening storms, hurricanes, and coastal erosion. These vulnerabilities are profoundly shaped by historical, social, and political forces, such as the legacy of colonialism and the political-economy of the island’s status as an unincorporated territory of the United States. This historical and political-economic context produces social and environmental injustices that exacerbate the challenges of the climate crisis.

The recent disaster of Hurricane Maria has shown how climate change can devastate the communities of a “small-island developing state,” which face economic inequality, fiscal austerity, and other effects of predatory neoliberal economic policies. Yet, as a vibrant place for activism and social innovation, Puerto Ricans have also revealed a deep resilience and shown ways to work toward community-led justice and sustainability. Through community organizing, mutual aid, solidarity brigades, and other forms of grassroots collective action, Puerto Rico offers an intimate look at ways people are resisting neoliberal disaster capitalism and fighting for sovereignty over land, food, water, and energy resources.


  • Learn directly from researchers, activists, and community organizers working toward food justice, energy sovereignty, and land rights.
  • Examine the importance of place, race, class, gender, and culture in understanding climate impacts and adaptation strategies.
  • Debate the role of government, civil society, grassroots movements, and individual action for social change in the climate crisis.
  • Explore how combining new technologies, old traditions, and collective action can lead to just and sustainable futures.



Course Sites

Puerto Rico

This course will be taught on site in three base locations within Puerto Rico: San Juan, on the northern coast; Mayaguez, on the western coast; and Ponce, on the southern coast. Each location will provide unique opportunities to study locally specific social struggles and environmental conflicts. The three weeks will include an orientation to the course; excursions to sites of environmental conflict, resistance to the status quo, and social change; guest lectures from a variety of Puerto Rican academics, activists, and professionals; and faculty-led class sessions to deepen the theoretical frameworks and provide space for guided reflection to synthesize the various elements of this experiential learning process.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.



The following syllabi are representative of 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.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Program Components

  • Examine environmental activism in three distinct areas of Puerto Rico
  • Visit sites of environmental conflict, resistance, and social change
  • Engage with academics, activists, and other experts in environmental justice and collective action 
  • Develop your understanding of theoretical frameworks related to environmental justice

Environmental Justice and Activism


Students will be housed in hostels, guest houses, and small hotels or dorms.

Career Paths

  • Research assistant for the United Nations, conducting work in Ecuador

  • Truman Scholarship recipient, continuing research at the postgraduate level

  • Fulbright recipients, returning to work in the countries the program visits

  • Intern at EcoPeace Middle East, Amman, Jordan

Faculty & Staff

Puerto Rico: Environmental Justice & Activism–IHP Climate Change (3 wks)

Nicolas Stahelin, EdD

Discover the Possibilities


    The total cost for this program is $4,600, including tuition and room & board. Financial aid may apply. Contact your study abroad office or SIT Admissions for more information.