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Comparative Education and Social Change

Study educational policies and pedagogies in Chile and Argentina and explore the relationship between education, society, and diversity in both countries.

At a Glance




3 semesters Spanish

Language of Study


Courses taught in



Aug 22 – Dec 4

Program Countries


Program Excursion Countries


Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Education & Social Change

Identity & Human Resilience

Identity & Human Resilience Icon


Why study education in Chile?

With its large indigenous and immigrant population and strong contrasts between urban and rural areas, Chile offers the opportunity to study a variety of educational models. You will spend time in diverse schools throughout the country—including public, private, voucher, underprivileged, coed, bilingual and intercultural institutions—to understand forces that affect educational policies and ideologies. Excursions to different regions of the country will deepen your understanding of the complex cultural and socioeconomic realities that impact education systems.

You will also spend two weeks in Argentina, which will provide the opportunity to compare educational systems. You will see how teachers and students in Argentina and Chile are trying to make education available to vulnerable populations, including immigrants and students with disabilities.

You will also develop the formal and informal Spanish language skills to discuss and research education issues and policy through classroom learning, cultural immersion, homestays, and excursions.


  • Educational experiences related to indigenous and non-formal education as paradigms for social change
  • Compare regional and national differences in educational systems through excursions to Temuco, Mapuche territory, and Buenos Aires
  • Research education in urban and rural areas of Chile and Argentina
  • Deepen your use of Spanish during your homestay, the Independent Study Project, or internship


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

program map


Buenos Aires, Argentina

During a two-week excursion to Argentina, seminars will be held at the Instituto de Desarrollo Económico y Social (IDES). You will examine human rights movements, including meeting with the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and visiting the Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada, the main detention and torture center during Argentina’s dictatorship period. You will visit schools with large migrant populations and with differing education systems including popular education, critical pedagogy and non-formal education such as a dance school, a school serving the transgender community and bachilleratos populares with self-managed initiatives from and by communities. You will meet with  local teachers and members of CTERA, a teachers union.

Temuco, Mapuche Region

Study complex issues related to intercultural bilingual education, educational autonomy, decolonization and decoloniality during a seven-day excursion to a rural Mapuche community. Live with a local family to enrich your knowledge of Mapuche community  traditions. Visit schools to see how the education system transmits culture, identity, and language and talk and share ideas with Mapuche youth. Engage in community activities such as helping construct a ruka, a typical Mapuche houseteaching English classes to children; learning Mapudungun; and playing soccer and palin, a Mapuche sport. Share Mapuche food with members of the community and practice reciprocity through the ceremony of Trafkintu.


During a four-day excursion to the city of Valparaíso, you will visit the elementary school in Laguna Verde, which serves socially vulnerable children. Learn about their educational projects stemming from different pillars such as sports, art, environment, and intercultural education, and Liceo Técnico de Valparaíso A–24. You will also hear members of the Valparaíso Province’s Regional Teacher’s Union talk about Chile’s current educational situation and reform initiatives.

Human Rights: Uncovering Chile’s and Argentina's Complex Past

Visit former torture sites, secret detention centers, and clandestine burial sites used during Chile’s dictatorship. These may include the Museo de la Memoria, el Parque por la Paz Villa Grimaldi, Patio 29, Memorial de Salvador Allende, the resting place of Víctor Jara, and the Memorial al Detenido Desaparecido y Ejecutado Político. Meet with former detainees, relatives of victims, and Agrupación de Familiares de Detenidos Desparecidos in Chile. In Buenos Aires, visit the Espacio de Memoria y Derechos Humanos, Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada (ESMA), Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo and hear from prominent lawyers and human rights activists.

Población La Victoria

Visit the Chilean community of La Victoria, known for its strong sense of identity, culture, and social organization. It was a source of social mobilization against the Pinochet dictatorship during the 1980s and it was there that French priest André Jarlan was shot by police. Meet teachers, families, students, and community leaders as you visit the public school of La Victoria, built by the founding members of the community  and currently serving Chileans and Haitian migrant populations, and visit the popular television station, Channel 3 of La Victoria.

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: 

  • Identify the educational, social, cultural, economic, and political relations existing in the Argentinean and Chilean educational systems.  
  • Compare the role of a welfare state and a neoliberal state for educational and social change and their relationship with social movements organized by various stakeholders such as students, Mapuche communities, immigrants, LGBTQI+ communities, human rights organizations, and autonomist movements in Chile and Argentina. 
  • Analyze the structure and pedagogical orientation of both educational systems based on seminars and experiences in educational communities. 
  • Explicate concepts such as popular education, critical pedagogy, critical interculturality, historical memory, Mapuche educational autonomy, decolonial pedagogy, decolonial feminism, intercultural bilingual education, decoloniality and decolonization. 
  • Explain the tensions between the relevant actors in the educational systems, such as students, teachers, and educational communities with current discussion about the role of the state and public policies in education, educative quality, native peoples’ education, non-traditional educational initiatives, and experiences of educative autonomy in Chile and Argentina. 
  • Develop and integrate Spanish skills in the writing and oral presentation of an independent research project or an internship applying critical thinking, intellectual flexibility, and reflective analysis of educational systems and social change in both countries. 

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.

Key Topics

  • The Chilean educational system and current education crisis
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  • Regional and national differences in educational systems
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  • Popular, intercultural, and bilingual education
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  • The role of ethnicity and diversity in educational practices
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  • Educational policies, equity, gender, and human rights 

Education Quality and Equity: Tensions and Proposals

Education Quality and Equity: Tensions and Proposals – syllabus
(LACB3000 / 3 credits)

This seminar analyzes the differences between the educative policies from a Chilean neoliberal state and an Argentine welfare state relative to the impacts on human rights, historic memory, diversity, gender and LGBTQI+, special education, and social change. Studies include the relationship between education, society, students’ organizations, and social movements, analysis of private and public education, and impacts on the quality, equity, and educational wellness in Chile and Argentina. Students explore critical issues including the construction of new knowledge, social transformation, the quality paradigm,  equity of education, the teaching process and teacher training, the legitimation and promotion of particular forms of reasoning, the role of the state in education and its impact on schools, students, families, teachers, learning and teaching. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

Bilingual Intercultural Education and Popular Education

Bilingual Intercultural Education and Popular Education – syllabus
(LACB3005 / 3 credits)

This seminar will take place in Santiago and during the program’s educational excursion to the Mapuche rural community in the IX Region of Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina. During the Mapuche rural community excursion, students will participate in participate in observation and lectures while visiting elementary and secondary schools in topics such as Mapuche educative autonomy, decolonial pedagogy, intercultural bilingual education, Mapuche worldview, history, decoloniality and decolonization processes. In Santiago and during the excursion to Buenos Aires, the seminar explores the construction of new knowledge through nontraditional educative models such as popular education, critical pedagogy, critical interculturality, historic memory, decolonial feminist and militant culture, and social transformation. Examine the teaching process, the legitimization and promotion of particular forms of reasoning in formal educational institutions, and in the bachilleratos populares that have been born from community initiatives. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

Spanish for Social Sciences and Education

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

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

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

In this course, students hone their speaking, reading, and writing skills through classroom and field instruction. They practice reading educational literature as they learn the formal terms and local expressions needed to discuss educational policy, to conduct field research, and to interact in settings related to the program themes and excursion destinations. 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 for an Independent Study Project or internship. Through lectures, readings, and field activities, students study and practice basic social science, educational research methods, and decolonial research. They examine the ethical issues surrounding field research related to working with schools, children, and marginalized groups, 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.

Independent Study Project or Internship

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

Conducted in Santiago, 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 or a non-traditional project as musical compositions, theater plays, photography, murals, films, documentaries, among others.

Sample ISP topic areas:

  • Identity issues and intercultural education in rural Mapuche schools
  • Education and cultural identity through children’s arts
  • Structural aspects of education
  • English language practicum in a primary urban or rural school
  • The Penguin Revolution and its effects
  • School reentry in Buenos Aires
  • Ethnicity in childcare in marginalized areas of Santiago and Buenos Aires
  • Gender roles in schools
  • LGBTQI+ populations
  • National identity in students
  • Human rights
  • Popular education and social change

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


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

This seminar consists of a four-week internship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Chile with a local community or social organization, school, university, union, or federation of students or teachers, research organization, business, or international NGO. The aim of the internship is to enable the student to gain valuable work experience and to enhance their skills in an international work environment. Students will complete an 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 socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization. The internship will be conducted in Spanish.

Topics and placements vary according to need and availability at our partner institutions, but examples of internships include:

  • Supporting school administration, students’ movements, gender studies, public health, and human rights at a public school in Buenos Aires, a public school in the Municipal Department of Education in Santiago, or a private school in Fundación Súmate
  • Learning pedagogy, school administration, and the relationships between school and community at a public school in Valparaíso
  • Providing intercultural bilingual education and promoting intercultural health at a private school in Chol or a public school in Chapod, both in Mapuche territory
  • Supporting human rights and historical memory at Agrupación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos
  • Focusing on economy, social welfare, and industrialization of natural resources at Cenda, an alternative development study center
  • Training, teaching, and learning educational demands at Colegio de Profesores de Chile, a teachers’ union
  • Assisting university administration and learning the demands of higher education at Alberto Hurtado University



During the first five weeks of the program, you will live with host families in Chile’s capital, Santiago, to experience urban Chilean culture, practice your Spanish language skills, and learn about your family’s experiences with education and social change.


Live for a week with an indigenous Mapuche family in the community of Chapod, Temuco, in southern Chile. Here, you will experience a rural, indigenous community and learn about the ancient traditions of Mapuche education. See the challenges of bilingual intercultural education on visits to a Mapuche school and during conversations with community leaders, students, and teachers.

Buenos Aires

During a two-week excursion to Argentina, you will live with host families of professionals, academics, and university students in the cosmopolitan downtown area of Buenos Aires known as Capital Federal.

Career Paths

Students on this program represent a variety of colleges, universities, and majors. Many of them have gone on to pursue professional or academic experiences that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Alumni of this program are currently working in education and public policy, as teachers, researchers, administrative assistants, and directors for schools, institutions, and NGOs. Positions recently held by alumni of this program include:

  • Research analyst at Vera Institute of Justice, New York, NY

  • Legislative press aide in the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC

  • Enrollment specialist at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, Boston, MA

  • School-based clinician at Association House of Chicago, Chicago, IL

  • Research scientist at Albany Molecular Research Inc., Indianapolis, IN

Faculty & Staff

Chile: Comparative Education and Social Change

Roberto Villaseca, PhD Candidate bio link
Roberto Villaseca, PhD Candidate
Academic Director
Noemí Muñoz bio link
Noemí Muñoz
Program Coordinator
Claudia Zuñiga, MA bio link
Claudia Zuñiga, MA
Program Assistant and Homestay Coordinator
Juan Antonio Painecura Antinao bio link
Juan Antonio Painecura Antinao
Program Coordinator, Temuco, Mapuche Territory
Marta Kisilevsky, MA bio link
Marta Kisilevsky, MA
Program Coordinator, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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.

    See Full Breakdown
  • Facebook

    SIT Study Abroad Santiago Chile: Comparative Education and Social Change

  • Chile Youth Education Movement: Shara Guarnaccia at TEDxGallatin 2013

    Shara Guarnaccia, a graduate of the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study and a 2011 alum, recorded a TEDx talk about Chile’s Youth Education Movement.