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Indigenous Peoples and Globalization

Explore how indigenous peoples in Peru are adapting and innovating to preserve their cultural values and shape their own future in the face of globalization.

At a Glance




3 semesters Spanish

Language of Study

Spanish, Quechua

Courses taught in



Aug 28 – Dec 10

Program Countries


Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Identity & Human Resilience



Up to 45 percent of the population in Peru identifies as members of an indigenous community. Here, you will witness the impacts of globalization on indigenous peoples and be challenged to scrutinize the complexities of identity, transformation, and marginalization. You will have two homestays, one in urban Cuzco and a second on Taquile Island, where you will experience different Peruvian lifestyles, perspectives, and identities.

During three weeks of travel to the Peruvian Amazon and Machu Picchu, and the floating reed islands of the Uros people of Lake Titicaca, you’ll see how communities are working toward their own definition of development and cultural preservation. You will also learn about research methods and ethics, which will prepare you to conduct a month-long Independent Study Project on a topic of your choice related to the program themes.

In addition, you will learn basic Quechua and develop your Spanish language skills related to social and cultural studies through classroom learning, cultural immersion, homestays, and excursions.


  • Examine how globalization impacts indigenous peoples and communities.
  • Rapidly advance your Spanish and learn introductory Quechua.
  • Travel throughout Peru for three weeks and live with two homestay families.
  • See how communities work toward their own development and cultural preservation.


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

program map


Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

On this four-day excursion, you will visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas, explore archeological sites such as Ollantayambo, meet members of an indigenous community working with traditional textiles, and visit a project working with indigenous girls to have education opportunities.

Peruvian Amazon – Madre de Dios

You will travel in Madre de Dios in the Peruvian Amazon for one week, where you will attend lectures from indigenous leaders and participate in local community activities. For four days, you will travel to indigenous communities and learn about Amazonian livelihoods and how indigenous peoples are confronting the impacts of globalization. Many of these indigenous groups have organized into the Native Federation of Madre de Dios (FENAMAD), which has achieved significant advances in defense of their territorial rights.

Lake Titicaca and Puno

Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake and the largest South American lake by volume. You will spend one night in Puno and visit the indigenous community of the Uros, Aymara people who live on floating totora reed islands. You will also travel to Taquile Island for four nights and live with a local family to learn about the Taquileños way of life. The island has been populated since the pre-Columbian period and remained almost isolated until the 1970s, until it was mentioned in the South American Tourism Handbook.

Arequipa and Colca Canyon

On this four-day excursion, you will visit Colca and Arequipa. You will also visit Colca Valley, the world’s second-deepest canyon, and home to the condor, one of the world’s largest birds. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Arequipa is known for its use of the volcanic white rock sillar in its buildings. It is surrounded by three volcanoes and integrates European and native building techniques and styles. Here you will visit museums and process your rural homestay learning experiences.

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: 

  • Explain the history of cultures of the indigenous peoples and the processes of change and resistance to globalization in Peru.   
  • Apply an interdisciplinary approach to analyze the interactions between indigenous peoples of the Andes and Amazonia with the practices of the globalization.  
  • Apply ethical skills in conducting scientific research with Indigenous peoples.  
  • Demonstrate advanced speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in Spanish language consistent with the level of language-learning on program. 
  • Demonstrate introductory knowledge of Quechua, the Indigenous peoples’ native language of the Andes. 

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

  • Indigenous rights, advocacy, and policy
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  • Community empowerment
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  • Identity recognition
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  • Historical legacies and contemporary social movements
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  • Impacts of global changes on society, culture, economy, and ecology

History of Indigenous Cultures in Peru

History of Indigenous Cultures in Peru – syllabus
(LACB3000 / 3 credits)

The course begins with an examination of the history of Andean and Amazonian indigenous peoples in Peru. Students consider the prosperity and peacefulness of the precolonial period, the violence of the colonial era, and the birth and construction of the Peruvian republic, asking how indigenous populations were and were not included in the nationalist project. Students also learn about the cosmovisions of both Andean and Amazonian cultures, traditional conceptualizations of gender, land use, and other topics. With these foundations, students then shift toward contemporary issues, in particular focusing on urbanization processes as they have affected indigenous peoples. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

Indigenous Peoples in Motion: Changes, Resistance, and Globalization

Indigenous Peoples in Motion: Changes, Resistance, and Globalization – syllabus
(LACB3005 / 3 credits)

In this seminar, students explore contemporary transformations of indigenous groups through multiple lenses. In particular, they analyze ethnic identity within the urban environment, examining indigenous migration and “cholification”, racism, and discrimination. They consider the ethnic component of political violence in Peru and study how indigenous peoples have mobilized resistance and organized to defend their cultures, territories, and local environments. Students study topics such as bilingual education movements, national law, and international rights for indigenous peoples, among other topics. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.


Quechua – syllabus
(QUEC1001 / 1 credits)

This introductory course emphasizes building oral and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Formal instruction is enhanced by language practice during rural homestays and excursions.

Spanish for the Social Sciences

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

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

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

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

In this course, students hone their speaking, reading, and writing skills through classroom and field instruction. They practice reading social science literature as they learn the theoretical terms and local expressions needed to discuss sociocultural issues, to conduct field research, and to interact in settings 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)

In this research methods course designed to prepare students for the Independent Study Project, students learn how to organize and conduct a research project. Through lectures, readings, and field activities, students study and practice a range of basic social science 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, selected appropriate methods, and written a solid proposal for an Independent Study Project related to the program themes. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.


Independent Study Project

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

Conducted in Cuzco or other approved and appropriate locations in Peru, 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. Sample topic areas: the role of oral histories, legends, and myths in ethnocultural preservation; knowledge transmission; changing agricultural practices; ecotourism as a community development model; grassroots empowerment; interaction between urban and rural communities; generational dynamics in cultural pride and heritage; bicultural/bilingual education; conflicts between conservation and extractive industries.

Sample ISP topic areas:

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

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



Live with a host family for six weeks in one of two neighborhoods along Cuzco’s Avenida Cultural. Activities with your homestay family may include playing soccer in the neighborhood park, taking weekend trips, or joining in celebrations and religious holidays. Through daily conversations with host family members, you will discuss your impressions and experiences of Cuzco while exchanging cultural information and insights.

Taquile Island

You will spend four days living with a Quechua-speaking family on Taquile Island, which is over 12,959 feet in altitude. In this community, you will become immersed in the daily routine of the Andean countryside, including assisting your families in sowing potatoes or grazing cows or sheep.

Excursion & Orientation Accommodations

Hostels, private homes, and small hotels in the Amazon.

Career Paths

Students on this program represent a wide range of colleges, universities, and majors. Many of them have gone on to pursue academic and professional work that connects back to their experience abroad with SIT. Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:

  • Community outreach coordinator at Escuela Verde, Milwaukee, WI

  • Researcher at Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Ancon, Panama

Alumni are also advancing their studies through Fulbright, master’s, and PhD programs. Others are working in diverse areas, from the arts to academic fields related to social and economic issues.

Faculty & Staff

Peru: Indigenous Peoples and Globalization

Alex Alvarez, PhD bio link
Alex Alvarez, PhD
Academic Director
Ana Hermoza, MA bio link
Ana Hermoza, MA
Program Administrator
Julia Catalán Cervantes bio link
Julia Catalán Cervantes
Rural Homestay Coordinator and Office Assistant
Regina Tupacyupanqui Arredondo bio link
Regina Tupacyupanqui Arredondo
Quechua Language Instructor
Jossie Coacalla Juares bio link
Jossie Coacalla Juares
Language Coordinator and Instructor
Cecilio Quispe bio link
Cecilio Quispe
Taquile Island Excursion Coordinator
Carlos (Charlie) Peña bio link
Carlos (Charlie) Peña
Madre de Dios Region Excursion Coordinator

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

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