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Transnationalism and Comparative Development in South America

Examine the social and economic development strategies of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

At a Glance




3 semesters Spanish, Relevant previous coursework

Language of Study


Courses taught in



Aug 29 – Dec 11

Program Countries


Program Excursion Countries

Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil

Program Base

Buenos Aires

Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Identity & Human Resilience

Identity & Human Resilience Icon


Why study transnationalism in Argentina?

While the countries of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) share some economic and social realities, they are more disparate than alike. Argentina and Brazil both have large economies with changing social policies within politically polarized societies. Paraguay and Uruguay are smaller economies with different socio-economic models and development and social policies. You’ll spend time in all four countries to understand their similarities, differences, and transnational processes.

Begin the program in Buenos Aires, attending lectures at IDES (Instituto de Desarrollo Económico y Social), and interacting with politicians, economists, and grassroots community leaders. Then excursions to Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, will expand your knowledge of the region’s history, including memories of human rights violations; political and economic changes; the role of grassroots movements; and the economic, cultural, and social aspects of regional integration.

Develop Spanish language skills related to social sciences and development through classroom learning, cultural immersion, homestays, and excursions. Finally, customize the program by choosing an internship with a nonprofit or an independent research project in Argentina, Paraguay or Uruguay.


  • Spend six weeks in Buenos Aires and travel to Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
  • Rapidly improve your Spanish through coursework and cultural immersion.
  • Explore economic and social realities of the MERCOSUR countries.
  • Examine the regional similarities, differences, and transnational processes.


Previous college-level coursework or background in sociology, political science, economics, or development studies. Three recent semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent and the ability to follow coursework and assignments in Spanish, as assessed by SIT.

program map


São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Spend six days in Brazil, starting with four days in São Paulo, followed by three days in Rio de Janeiro. On this trip, learn about Brazilian history, politics, economics, and the construction of Brazilian identity. By visiting two key cities, you will learn about regional differences in multiple dimensions. You’ll also learn about Brazil’s development model, visit human rights organizations, and meet activists working to reduce inequality and improve rights for landless workers and the LGBTQ+ community.


Your five-day visit to Uruguay will explore contemporary and political issues affecting Latin America’s most equal and developed country. See the capital Montevideo and the historic city of Colonia and visit the headquarters of the regional trade organization, MERCOSUR, and the Association for Latin American Integration, ALADI. At Universidad Nacional de la Republica, attend lectures on interpretations of and challenges to regional integration in South America. Learn about Afro-Uruguayan culture and music.


During this seven-day trip, you’ll learn about Paraguay’s political and economic challenges and how marginalized communities are fighting for a more inclusive country. In the capital, Asunción, you will examine poverty, exclusion, and human rights violations and take advantage of SIT’s partnership with Centro de Documentación y Estudio. You will also visit memory sites for dictatorships in Paraguay and other Latin American countries. Conclude your excursion by exploring the amazing landscape of Iguazú Falls.

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.


Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to: 

  • Analyze dominant theoretical narratives and approaches to the concept of development. 
  • Examine current economic extractivist development models with a focus on their impacts on Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil. 
  • Describe the way regional integration and transnational political agendas in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay participate in shaping regional integration models in Latin America. 
  • Articulate the economic and political benefits, advantages, and challenges of regional integration in southern cone countries. 
  • Synthesize the learning acquired on the program in an Independent Study Project or internship experience paper. 

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.


Access virtual library guide.

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.

The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

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

Independent Study Projects

  • Bilateral government-owned development projects
  • Strategic resources management
  • Development of corporate social responsibility
  • Sustainability of agricultural export production
  • Immigration policy changes
  • bullet list icon


  • Fundraising strategies at Red Argentina de Cooperación Internacional (RACI)
  • Women in the labor market with Fundación Mediapila Work
  • Social and economic development, emergency response and refugee assistance with Church World Service

Independent Study Project and internships are provided as examples and are not intended as a guarantee of subject matter approval or internship placement.

Transnationalism and Regional Processes in the Southern Cone

Transnationalism and Regional Processes in the Southern Cone – syllabus
(LACB3000 / 3 credits)

This course provides students with a general overview of regional integration processes in Latin America by looking at some of its core institutions, including MERCOSUR (Mercado Común del Sur) and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations), and examining them from the point of view of four countries of the Southern Cone. The course takes both an economic and international relations perspective, paying special attention to current transformations and development processes within southern countries and their implications for regional integration. This course also explores the way in which transnational social movements agendas sharpen national and transnational politics and uses Uruguay and Brazil as major comparative studies to examine such issues as public policies around Afrodescendent populations’ rights, and farmers’ struggle for land. Transnational studies have consolidated themselves across the social sciences in an attempt to provide an analytical framework through which to look at processes beyond the nation state and in order to understand regional processes, migration, development models, inequality, and the construction of citizenship in its various dimensions. Analysis of topics can be as varied as the formation of global commodity and care chains, political practices and struggles for citizenship followed by transmigrants, or transnationalization of social and environmental protests. The course examines different conceptions of governance, redefinitions of the role of the nation state, the restructuring of the economy (including economic inequalities), and different strategies through which social mobilization operates. This course is carried out in five different locations: Buenos Aires; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; São Paulo, Brazil; and Colonia and Montevideo, Uruguay. All coursework is conducted in Spanish with occasional readings in English.

Development and Social Change

Development and Social Change – syllabus
(LACB3005 / 3 credits)

In this seminar, students explore theories of development and models of social change from an interdisciplinary perspective. An emphasis is placed on comparing Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil. In particular, students examine the expansion of the soy model in the region, studying its benefits and potential risks in economic, environmental, and human arenas. Throughout the seminar, students inquire into how marginalized and at-risk populations (for example, unemployed workers, migrant groups, indigenous communities, and women) are affected by these development strategies. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

Spanish for Social Sciences and Development

Spanish for Social Sciences and Development I – syllabus
(SPAN2003 / 3 credits)

Spanish for Social Sciences and Development II – syllabus
(SPAN2503 / 3 credits)

Spanish for Social Sciences and Development III – syllabus
(SPAN3003 / 3 credits)

Spanish for Social Sciences and Development IV – syllabus
(SPAN3503 / 3 credits)

This course allows students to hone their speaking, reading, and writing skills through classroom and field instruction. They practice reading professional social science literature as they learn both formal terms and local expressions needed to discuss development issues, to conduct field research, and to interact in settings (such as nongovernmental organizations and grassroots associations) related to the program themes. Students are placed in small classes based on an in-country evaluation that tests both written and oral proficiency.

Research Methods and Ethics

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits)

This research methods course is designed to prepare students to organize and conduct an Independent Study Project or internship. Students study and practice basic social science methods through lectures, readings, and field activities, with a special focus on qualitative methods. They examine the ethical issues surrounding field research related to the 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 or internship placement, selected appropriate methods, and written a solid proposal for an Independent Study Project or internship related to the program themes. All coursework is conducted in Spanish, with occasional readings in English.

Independent Study Project or Internship

Choose one of the following two courses.

Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

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. One of the many advantages of this program is the wide range of themes that can be explored through the region. Sample topic areas: bilateral government-owned development projects; immigration policy changes; development of corporate social responsibility; women’s political participation; changes in political participation; sustainability of agricultural export production; challenges of indigenous communities; environmental issues in the region; women’s agenda; political party strategies; implementation of agro-ecological and organic models for production; comparative policies between countries of the Southern Cone; implementation of fair trade policies.

Sample ISP topic areas:

  • Bilateral government-owned development projects
  • Immigration policy changes
  • Transnational citizenship
  • Middle Classes in the region
  • Development of corporate social responsibility
  • Women’s political participation
  • Changes in political participation
  • Strategic resources management
  • Eliminating child labor
  • Sustainability of agricultural export production
  • Gender issues

Browse this program’s Independent Study Projects and undergraduate research.


Internship and Seminar
Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits)

This seminar consists of a four-week internship with an additional week for preparation and reflection. The internship will be carried out in Argentina or Paraguay with a local community organization, research organization, or international NGO. The organization will focus on the following topics: economic and human development; gender and development; human rights and development; migration and transnational issues; regional integration. The aim of the internship is to enable the student to gain valuable work experience and enhance their skills in an international work environment. Students will complete the internship and submit a paper in which they process their learning experience on the job, analyze an issue important to the organization, and/or design a project proposal to produce social change with a corresponding funding strategy. The internship will be conducted in Spanish.

Sample Internships


  • Promoting international cooperation, international economy, and fundraising strategies at Red Argentina de Cooperación Internacional (RACI)
  • Helping women migrant and refugees in the arenas of human rights and livelihood development with Asociación de Mujeres Unidas, Migrantes y Refugiadas in Argentina (AMUMRA)
  • Assisting the sustainable energy, green tech, and solar town projects of ECOANDINA
  • Promote integral and sustainable human development with Asociación Sustentar
  • Promote inclusión in the labor market of women in situation of socioeconomic vulnerability with Fundación Mediapila
  • Work in areas of social and economic development, emergency response and refugee assistance with the Church World Service



Buenos Aires

By living with a host family in Buenos Aires for most of the program, you will have the opportunity to improve your language skills and learn firsthand about urban Argentine life. Host families come from middle-class backgrounds and work in many different fields. Typically, they live in apartments or small houses located in the Recoleta, Palermo, Caballito, Villa Crespo, Boedo, Nuñez, and Belgrano neighborhoods, which are all relatively close to Instituto de Desarrollo Económico y Social, where many classes are held.

You will have the opportunity to engage in your host family’s daily routines such as shopping, family dinners, and visits with neighbors, as well as cultural activities such as visiting museums, going to concerts, spending time at neighborhood street markets, attending sporting events such as soccer matches, taking weekend trips, or enjoying family celebrations, including birthday parties and national holidays.

Other Accommodations

Small hotels and hostels

Career Paths

Students on this program represent a wide variety of colleges, universities, and majors. Many of them have gone on work in areas that connect back to their experience abroad, including international NGOs, the Peace Corps, and development agencies and in finance, business, and migration.

  • Fulbright scholars in Asia and South America

  • Research associate in Tamil Nadu, India

  • International education specialist in Washington, DC

  • Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Santiago, Chile

Faculty & Staff

Argentina: Transnationalism and Comparative Development in South America

Nuria Peña, PhD bio link
Nuria Peña, PhD
Academic Director
Brenda Lilian Pereyra Cousiño, PhD candidate bio link
Brenda Lilian Pereyra Cousiño, PhD candidate
Associate Academic Director
Pablo Morgade bio link
Pablo Morgade
Program Assistant

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award nearly 1 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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