Chile

Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development

Explore Chile’s recent political and social history and how Chileans are reconciling with the past to create a more equitable and culturally inclusive society.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

3 semesters Spanish

Language of Study

Spanish

Courses taught in

Spanish

Dates

Feb 25 ‎– Jun 8

Program Countries

Chile

Program Base

Valparaiso

Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon

Identity & Human Resilience

Identity & Human Resilience Icon

Overview

Why study social justice in Chile?

Chile has undergone monumental political, economic, and social changes over the past four decades—including transitioning away from a 17-year dictatorship. Studying in Chile, you will explore how Chileans today are building a more equitable and inclusive nation and you will become part of a larger intercultural movement yourself. You’ll witness the struggle for justice and reconciliation related to the military regime’s human rights violations, and you will have the opportunity to complete an internship or conduct independent research.

During your excursions, you will spend two weeks with Mapuche and Aymara communities to understand the longstanding challenges Chile’s indigenous peoples face. In addition, you’ll work on a community project with an NGO and learn about the development strategies local communities are using to confront their unique challenges.

You will also receive intensive Spanish language instruction and develop the skills to discuss sociocultural issues through classroom learning, cultural immersion, homestays, and excursions.

Highlights

  • Explore how Chile’s political and social history impact cultural identity.
  • Spend two weeks with Mapuche and Aymara indigenous communities.
  • Rapidly improve your Spanish through coursework, excursions, and homestays.
  • Work on a community project with an NGO in Valparaíso.

Prerequisites

Previous college-level coursework in the social sciences, sociology, anthropology, gender, and/or cultural studies. Three recent semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in Spanish, as assessed by SIT.

Excursions

Valparaíso and Santiago

You will have three local, field-based excursions in Valparaíso and nearby Santiago, which will help you learn about Chilean cultural identity, social justice movements, and human rights struggles. Highlights include visits to Chile’s National Congress, Villa Grimaldi prison camp, social organizations, and NGOs and think tanks. You’ll also visit a local fishing village and artisan workshops to experience Chile’s culture and talk to people about vital aspects of Chile’s recent history and current realities.

Temuco: Mapuche Region

On your ten-day excursion to Temuco, you’ll learn about the Mapuche, the largest group of indigenous people in Chile, and their complex relationship with Chile’s history, government, and culture. You will consider the challenges facing the Mapuche and you will live with a Mapuche family to understand development issues from their perspective. You will also travel within the region, from the Pacific coast to the Andean mountains, learning about local cultural and economic survival initiatives.

Arica and Putre: Intercultural Region

On a one-week excursion to Arica and Putre in northernmost Chile, you will visit urban and rural Aymara communities, afro-descendent communities, an intercultural school, and organizations working with migrants from Peru and Bolivia. Through seminars, workshops, and intercultural meetings, you will explore Aymara history, worldview, daily life, traditional agriculture, and various cultural expressions such as oral traditions, music, textiles, and food.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

This program combines topical seminars and discussions with field-based learning around the themes of cultural identity, social justice, and community development. These themes are divided into modules so that students can contextualize Chilean experience, taking into account historical elements, current realities, and emerging trends. Theoretical perspectives are provided through academic seminars and are reinforced through the Spanish language classes. Subsequently, academic excursions and community work experiences contextualize theories and provide opportunities for critical reflection around programmatic themes.

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.

Key Topics

  • Chile’s economic model, development, and social inequalities
  • Community responses to Chile’s socioeconomic changes
  • The Pinochet regime, human rights violations, and Chilean history
  • Truth, justice, and reconciliation
  • Current civil society expressions
  • Challenges facing Chile’s indigenous peoples

Culture and Society in Contemporary Chile

Culture and Society in Contemporary Chile – syllabus
(LACB3000 / 3 credits)

This course introduces students to societal and cultural changes in Chile by reviewing the military dictatorship and the post-dictatorial political order. Students analyze both old and new forms of subjectivity and sociocultural practice, which have emerged as a consequence of and in response to hegemonic political and economic discourses. Students will analyze cultural values and antagonisms, considering issues of exclusion and marginalization in terms of class, gender, sexuality, youth, and ethnicity. Students also consider the cultural influence and impact of political violence in the production of subjectivity and culture during the dictatorship. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

Socioeconomic Development in Chile

Socioeconomic Development in Chile – syllabus
(LACB3005 / 3 credits)

Chile has undergone a number of drastic and diverse economic and political changes since the military coup of 1973. After the end of the dictatorship in 1989, economic growth and political stability in Chile were hailed by the international business community and economic agencies as a model to follow for the rest of Latin America and the world. In this course, students will critically question this process by looking at the impact the Chilean political system and the neoliberal model of economic development have had on the standards of living and quality of life of most Chileans. The course addresses political issues related to human rights violations, the character of the political constitution, labor relations in Chile, and the institutional continuities and discontinuities between dictatorship and democracy. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

Spanish for Social and Cultural Studies

Spanish for Social and Cultural Studies I – syllabus
(SPAN2503 / 3 credits)

Spanish for Social and Cultural Studies II – syllabus
(SPAN3003 / 3 credits)

Spanish for Social and Cultural Studies III – syllabus
(SPAN3503 / 3 credits)

In this course, students hone their speaking, reading, and writing skills through classroom and field instruction. They practice reading cultural studies literature as they learn the theoretical terms and local expressions needed to discuss socio-cultural 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)

This research methods course is designed to prepare students for an Independent Study Project or internship. Through lectures, reading, and field activities, students study and practice 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 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.

Course Options

Choose one of the following two courses.

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

Conducted in Valparaíso 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.

Sample ISP topic areas:

  • Memory and political violence
  • Social movements
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Indigenous beliefs and culture
  • Migration and ethnic minorities
  • Conflicts, political parties and processes
  • Social class and community
  • Youth culture, art, music, and cultural production
  • Young people, political parties, and political processes

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

OR

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

The internship consists of a four-week period with a local community organization, research organization, or NGO. Students 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. International internships offer students an opportunity to combine an experience abroad, with all the benefits of intercultural and foreign language learning, with a pre-professional experience, acquiring 21st Century skills such as an ability to flourish in a diverse and multinational workplace. An internship advisor/mentor appropriate to the organization/institution is also selected. Mentors are usually host country research professionals. In conducting their internship, students use the concepts and skills of field-based learning. The internship will be conducted in Spanish.

Topics and placements may vary according to the availability of each institution.

Examples of internships:

  • Strengthening vulnerable populations through art, sports, and respect for diversity at School Laguna Verde, a primary school in rural Valparaiso
  • Promoting Chilean students’ mobility and study abroad opportunities with Universidad de Valparaíso International Relations
  • Providing advocacy, education, and support for people living with HIV/AIDS at ACCIONGAY
  • Supporting indigenous populations through methods based on Mapuche cultural practices at Guacolda, an intercultural high school in Chol
  • Researching political and educational issues at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso’s Centro de Educación Inclusiva
  • Promoting labor inclusion of socially excluded men and women at Fundación Emplea
  • Helping with human rights issues within local communities at the Municipality of Valparaíso’s Communal Office for Migrantes, Sexual Diversities, and Indigenous Peoples
  • Aiding Espacio Santa Ana’s efforts toward community development through self-management, arts, education, and territory in the context of vulnerability
  • Addressing sexual violence against women from a perspective of gender and human rights in the region of Valparaiso with CVS
  • Supporting Organic Style’s ecological focus on products, art, and training services in the Valparaíso region

Homestays

Valparaíso or Viña del Mar

You will live for seven weeks with a Chilean host family in the city of Valparaíso or Viña del Mar. Through this experience, you will gain important insights into Chilean society, improve your language skills, and experience daily life in Chile.

Rural homestays: Temuco and Putre

Spend about 10 days living with a Mapuche family near Temuco in the south and four days with a Putre Aymara community during the excursion to the northernmost part of Chile. These two rural homestays will allow you to compare your experience in Valparaíso and become familiar with the Mapuche and Aymara ways of life. During these homestays, you will participate in activities with your families and explore concepts of indigenous self-determination, healthcare, political participation, and family life.

Other Accommodations

Hostels, private homes, or small hotels

Career Paths

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

  • Production software engineer at MaxPoint Interactive, Raleigh, NC

  • Project manager at an electronic health record software company, Madison, WI

  • Women’s programs coordinator at the Mexican Association for Urban and Rural Transformation, Oaxaca, Mexico

  • Delivery room nurse at University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY

  • Staff assistant in the United States Senate, Washington, DC

  • Program coordinator at FoodCorps, Washington, DC

Faculty & Staff

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development

Evelyn Encalada Grez, PhD
Academic Director
Sandra Rojas
Assistant Academic Director
Guillermo Reyes De la Vega
Operations and Logistics Coordinator
Juan Antonio Painecura Antinao
Educational Excursion Coordinator (Southern Chile)
Karina Bilbao
Homestay Coordinator
Vania Berríos, MA
Internship and Spanish Program Coordinator

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 more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

     

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  • ACCESSIBILITY

    Prepare for an accessible educational experience with SIT Study Aborad! In-country conditions and resources vary by site. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact disabilityservices@sit.edu for more information.

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