Ecuador

Indigenous Community Wellness & Autonomy

Explore how indigenous Andean and Amazonian worldviews in Ecuador provide an alternative development model, which prioritizes community wellness and autonomy.

At a Glance

Credits

3

Prerequisites

2 semesters of college-level Spanish

Courses taught in

Spanish

Dates

Dec 28 ‎– Jan 15

Program Countries

Ecuador

Program Base

Quito

Critical Global Issue of Study

Identity & Human Resilience

Identity & Human Resilience Icon

Overview

Explore indigenous Andean and Amazonian worldviews in Ecuador by engaging with community-based organizations, local government entities, and scholars. You will examine the philosophic principle Sumak Kawsay, a plentiful life in harmony with nature, and learn how it provides the foundational framework for an alternative paradigm to development, in which community wellness and autonomy are prioritized.

Using an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspective, you will study concrete cultural practices of care and healing, including traditional healing and ethnobotany in the Kichwa worldview. You will also discuss how these practices sustain political mobilization, indigenous government, and epistemological decolonization. In the capital city of Quito and during educational excursions to the Andean Highlands and the Upper Amazon Basin, you will engage with local initiatives promoting bilingual cultural education, performing arts, and cultural and language revitalization. In addition to your homestay in Quito, you will participate in a short, rural stay in an indigenous Kichwa community, where you will have direct exposure to Andean worldview principles such as reciprocity and redistribution and participate in collective agricultural work known locally as minka.

Highlights

  • Examine how the indigenous philosophical principle Sumak Kawsay, a plentiful life in harmony with nature, provides an alternative development paradigm.
  • Visit community-based organizations and local indigenous government entities in the Andean highlands and Upper Amazon Basin
  • Explore concrete culture practices of community wellness and care including traditional healing, ethnobotany, and performing arts.
  • Examine how concepts of indigenous autonomy sustain political mobilization, indigenous government, and the revitalization of cultural practices, languages, and education.

Prerequisites

2 semesters of college-level Spanish

Program Sites

Quito, Ecuador

Quito is the thriving capital of Ecuador and the country’s most populous city, situated at 9,050 feet above sea level. Quito is also regarded as a World Heritage Site. This program will take you to the Upper Amazon Basin on the Pastaza River as well as the Highland Andean Province of Imbabura, where you will participate in a rural stay with indigenous Kichwa families.

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.

Academics

Coursework

The following syllabus is 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.

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

Program Components

  • Lectures from university scholars, community-based organizations, and local government leaders
  • Field and participant observations, group discussions, and exercises focused on putting newly learned community wellness concepts into personal practice
  • Educational excursions to the Andean Highlands and the Upper Amazon Basin
  • Homestays in Quito and in a rural indigenous Kichwa community in the Imbabura Province

Indigenous Community Wellness and Autonomy

Indigenous Community Wellness and Autonomy – syllabus
(LACB3000 / 3 credits)

This course will examine indigenous Andean and Amazonian worldviews in Ecuador, particularly central tenets of the philosophical principle Sumak Kawsay, a plentiful life in harmony with nature. This principle provides the foundational framework for an alternative paradigm to development, in which community wellness and autonomy are prioritized. From an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspective, the concrete cultural practices of care and healing will be studied. How these practices sustain political mobilization, cultural revitalization, and epistemological decolonization will also be revealed.

Homestays

Quito

You will stay with a middle-class family in an urban neighborhood and enjoy Quito’s vibrant cultural life. Founded by Spanish colonizers in the 16th century atop an existing indigenous settlement, Quito’s architecture today is a mix of colonial and contemporary. In the city, you will find a mix of churches, typical and nouveau gourmet Ecuadorean restaurants, and hip cafés. Host families often take students to concerts, museums, movies, and other sites.

IMBABURA PROVINCE

You will participate in a short rural stay in an indigenous Kichwa community, where you will have direct exposure to Andean worldview principles such as reciprocity and redistribution. You will participate in collective agricultural work known locally as minka.

OTHER ACCOMMODATIONS

Hostels, guest houses, and small hotels

Faculty & Staff

Ecuador: Indigenous Community Wellness & Autonomy

Fabian Espinosa, MA
Heidi Baer-Postigo, MS

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

    The total cost for this program is $3,500, including tuition, room & board, health insurance, and more. Financial aid may apply. Contact your study abroad office or SIT Admissions for more information.