Examine independence movements in Spain and Scotland and explore the future of the nation state and regional autonomy in Europe and beyond.

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  • Live in Bilbao, one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, with unique culture, architecture, arts, and cuisine.

    Here, you’ll begin your examination of cultural manifestations of tensions between nation states, the EU, and national minorities. You’ll look at discontent embedded in cultural and aesthetic expressions such as art, cinema, literature, or sports and consider what they add to the national discourse.

  • Travel to Barcelona and Girona, the French Basque Region, and Scotland on excursions.

    Basque, Catalonia, and Scotland serve as case studies to help you understand how ethnic and national divisions shape contemporary European political and social dynamics. You’ll spend time in Spanish and French Basque regions, Barcelona and Girona in Catalonia, and Edinburgh in Scotland to get a firsthand look at these issues related to self-determination and independence in each location. You’ll come away with a comparative understanding of perspectives, struggles, and political and legal systems in Spain and Scotland.

  • Study Spanish at the University of Deusto’s International Spanish Center.

    Begin learning Spanish or develop proficiency in Spanish for policy and legal studies. The University of Deusto, SIT’s partner in Bilbao, is the oldest private university in Spain.

  • Meet with politicians, policy makers, and activists to get an inside perspective on issues related to independence movements.

    Discuss the connections between policy, national identity, and human rights with academics, policy-makers, and artists in Spain and Scotland. Talk with activists from pro-independence movements about autonomy and the future of the nation state in Spain and Europe.

  • Understand the historical roots of ethnic and national conflict in Spain and other European nations.

    Explore the possible correlation between the 2008 economic crisis and the neoliberal austerity measures imposed by the EU on the Spanish, Catalan, and Scottish peoples with the emergence of strong social and political mobilization in Spain and across Europe. You’ll also examine the legal and constitutional frameworks in which conflicts between pro-independence movements and states emerge.

  • Examine current human rights issues in Spain and Europe.

    You’ll focus on the legal framework of human rights protection as well as emerging claims from minority groups including women, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, and national minorities. You’ll also examine the constitutional framework for the cultural rights protection of indigenous populations within autonomous regions.

  • Assess the future of regional autonomies in Europe.

    Examine the impact of independence movements on social identity and policy making in the autonomous regions of Spain, France, and Scotland. Analyze legal and policy challenges facing states’ independence and self-determination movements. Consider the impact of regional independence movements on regional integration and the future of Europe and explore other regional autonomy models such as the Belgian and Swiss models. Consider possible institutional reforms and innovative alternative models to accommodate rising regional independence movements.

Critical Global Issue of Study

Peace | Human Rights | Social Movements

Peace | Human Rights | Social Movements

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Coursework in Policy Studies, European Studies, International Studies, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology or Pre-Law Studies.

Key Topics of Study


Key Topics of Study

  • Self-determination and pro-independence movements in Europe
  • Comparative approach to social policy in Spain and Scotland
  • EU neoliberal economic measures and regional autonomy in Spain
  • Political expressions of the ethnic/national cleavage in Spain and Europe
  • Catalonia’s independence movement and constitutional crisis in Spain
  • Comparative approach to social policy in Spain
  • The political economy of Basque regional autonomy
  • Economic crisis, liberal democracy, and the European project
  • International law and Catalonia’s declaration of independence
  • Impact of Brexit on the Scottish independence movement
  • Memory, oblivion, and cultural rights in Spain
  • Policy and legal perspectives of EU institutions, national states, and regional autonomies
  • Constitutional law and self-determination referendums in the EU
  • The Bilbao effect: cultural institutions and rebranding of Basque identity
  • Més que un club”: football and political aspirations in Catalonia
  • Methods of research in comparative politics, human rights, and social movements
  • Regional autonomy, EU policy, and the future of European integration




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.

Comparative Regional Autonomy and Independence Movements in Europe – syllabus
(EURO/POLI3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
This seminar provides a comparative approach to the analysis and comprehension of national minorities, pro-independence movements, and the emerging new regionalism in the context of the European Union. The Basque, Catalonian, and Scottish cases provide excellent case studies for an understanding of the underlying dynamics between EU members and national minorities and ways in which ethnic and national cleavages shape European contemporary policy, legal, political systems, and societal dynamics. The seminar also describes and analyzes the impact of macroeconomic policies and neoliberal austerity measures imposed by the EU on the Spanish, Catalan, and Scottish peoples and the effect that the latter have had pro- independence claims. Overall, the seminar provides a comparative overview of the different perspectives about the struggle for self-determination and pro-independence in Spain and Scotland.
Policy, Law, and the Future of the Nation State in Europe – syllabus
(EURO/POLI3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
During this course, students develop an understanding of the historical roots and contemporary manifestations of ethnic and national cleavages in Spain and other European nations. Students learn about the European Union’s institutional and political framework and its influence on the internal political and judicial systems of EU members. The course uses a multidimensional approach to explore and analyze from legal, policy, and human rights perspectives some of the main issues facing the contemporary European Union in the context of regional autonomies and independence movements. Using empirical examples from the Basque country, Catalonia, and Scotland, students assess, from a comparative perspective, the legal, institutional, and policy architecture developed by the European Union and EU’s regulation and policy approach to sovereignty, citizenship, and the claim to statehood. The course also addresses the current state of human and cultural rights in the EU, and most concretely, in the Basque country and Catalonia, and assesses the future of the nation-state in the context of regional independence movements. The course includes lectures by academics, meetings with policy makers, and field visits to cultural and memory sites in the Basque Country and Catalonia.
Beginning Spanish I – syllabus
(SPAN1003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Beginning Spanish II – syllabus
(SPAN1503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Intermediate Spanish – syllabus
(SPAN2003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Spanish for Policy and Legal Studies: Intermediate High – syllabus
(SPAN2503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Spanish for Policy and Legal Studies: Advanced – syllabus
(SPAN3003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
This course aims to develop sophisticated skills in speaking, understanding, reading and writing Spanish for policy and legal purposes, through traditional classroom instruction and field-based activities. While emphasis is placed primarily upon oral comprehension and developing conversational competencies (i.e., listening and speaking), reading and writing are also highlighted as crucial to the reinforcement of those skills. The homestay experience helps the student hone their proficiency in conversational Spanish and grasp cultural practices in the Spanish world. Vocabulary about policy and legal context is built into the course and introduced through audiovisual materials and experiential activities accompanying the textbook that has been specifically prepared for SIT program students. This high intermediate level of Spanish gives the students in-depth background into everyday life, enabling the grasp of critical language skills necessary for performing a variety of activities. The objective of the course is to review and expand on topics including communicating with Spanish-speaking politicians and law-makers, building the student’s practical legal terminology in Spanish, and enhancing the student’s oral and written communication skills in Spanish. Spanish courses take place at the International Spanish Center, University of Deusto, SIT’s partner in Bilbao.
Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
The Research Methods and Ethics (RME) seminar introduces students to the conceptual and practical tools for gathering primary data and the knowledge and skills that are essential to forming constructive relationships with organizations and/or individuals, which are necessary for completing an academic project in the cultural context of Spain. The main emphasis is on the development of empirical tools and ethics of interactive research skills involving the collection of primary data. The seminar includes lectures on qualitative and quantitative research methods in politics, human rights, and social movements. A module on comparative methods of research in social sciences, policy, and law prepares students for research on comparative politics, legal research, and comparative projects on policy analysis. The seminar uses lectures, readings, and field assignments to prepare students to undertake field study in the cultural context of Spain in strict observance of research procedures involving human subjects and the regulatory ethical norms defined by the Local Review Board (LRB) and SIT’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). The overall aim is to help students hone their experience-based learning processes and prepare them for the development of an Independent Study Project (ISP), which is largely based on the data gathered from primary sources.
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
The Independent Study Project (ISP) is a self-designed research project offering students the opportunity to undertake a personally significant and independent investigation, which highlights the regional and cultural reality that can only be encountered during a study abroad experience. The ISP is the academic component in which the student most directly applies the concepts, skills, tools, and techniques of experience-based learning articulated through the Research Methods and Ethics course and the thematic courses, while enabling students to further integrate their language skills and the contacts they have developed in the homestay and in the broader community. Each student will plan, develop, and independently undertake a research project, with the advice and guidance of the academic director and an ISP Advisor—a local academic and/or health or humanitarian aid professional. The topic of study may be anything of interest to the student, within the scope of the program and the immediate region, and is usually developed out of lectures, discussions, field visits, and educational excursions. The final project should provide material evidence of student capability in utilizing appropriate methodologies and in synthesizing experiences in the host culture. Students are expected to complete 120 hours of field-based (non-archival, non-library) research on their topic, submit a substantial written paper, and deliver an accompanying oral presentation. It is not uncommon for ISPs to strongly contribute to the student’s choice of subject for graduate studies or professional career.
Study in Beautiful Basque Country in Spain

Study in Beautiful Basque Country in Spain

Study abroad with SIT on this program to examine independence movements in Spain and Scotland and explore the future of the nation state and regional autonomy in Europe and beyond.

Spain: Policy, Law, and Regional Autonomy in Europe




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

Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Explore Brexit’s impact on the Scottish pro-independence nationalist movement and discussions about Scottish statehood and get a comparative look at possible trajectories pro-independence movements in Europe might take.

Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum didn’t garner enough support, and a second referendum has been postponed. Compare the Scottish and Catalonian cases and analyze the factors that led to the passage of the independence referendum in one region and its defeat in another. Assess the impact of the central government’s approach to pro-independence movements and draw conclusions about models for independence referendums.

You’ll also meet with academics and policy makers in Edinburgh to discuss political structure and parties, constitutional composition, policy making, international representation, and taxation. Plus, you’ll understand the constitutional, legal, and institutional conditions for working regional autonomy models and the role of the national government and European Union in providing a democratic framework for people to channel grievances.

Girona and Barcelona, Spain

Learn about the Catalan political system and nationalist demands. Understand institutional arrangements of regional autonomy, independence referendums, and the constitutional legality and implications of independence movements. Meet with legislators at the Catalan parliament in Barcelona, nationalist and pro-Spain political party leaders, independence social movement members, and municipality representatives and discover the polarized attitudes toward the independence process.

The excursion is coordinated in collaboration with the Faculty of Political Science, Law, and Criminology at the Universidad de Girona.

Guernica (Gernika), Basque Country, Spain

Discover the historical and cultural importance of Guernica, a symbol of Basque identity because of its resistance to Nazi air attack and its celebration by Pablo Picasso’s famous painting of the same name. Here, you’ll visit the Peace and Memory Museum and other sites as you develop an understanding of Basque national identity and the work of the area’s social and political organizations.

French Basque Country

Discover the repercussions of one of the longest national conflicts in contemporary Europe and compare how the conflict was dealt with by Spain, France, and the EU. Your guide on this excursion will be Dr. Igor Ahedo, director of the Political Science Department at the Universidad del País Vasco, Bilbao, an expert on the historical and political processes of the French Basque Country.

Though the French Basque Country lies on the French side of the border, it is part of the Basque national construction, with shared historical, linguistic, and cultural roots, which have facilitated exchange across the border for centuries. You’ll visit French Basque social and political organizations and speak with people who have participated in different nationalist political processes in the last decade, in particular those who were part of peace processes.

Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country, Spain

Even though Bilbao is the most populous and influential city of Basque Country, the political and legislative capitol is Vitoria, located only an hour away. Here, you’ll get a close look at the Basque political system. Meet with Basque politicians to learn about their positions regarding Basque independence and visit social organizations that work in areas such as nationalism, cultural rescue, memory, and Basque identity.




The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.

Bilbao is a diverse and multicultural city with a population of Basque, Andalusian, Castilian, and Aragonese origin. During the semester you will live with a homestay family in Bilbao for 12 weeks. Families are usually middle-class and reflect the cultural diversity of Spain. Some host families are within walking distance from the program center and others are 15 to 30 minutes by bus or tram. Students who need to take transportation back and forth from their homestay will get a stipend to cover their travel.

Other accommodations during the program include hostels and modest hotels.

Faculty and Staff


Faculty and Staff

Victor Tricot, PhD, Academic Director

Dr. Victor Tricot received his PhD in political science from the University of Salamanca in Spain, applying social movements theories to indigenous movements in Chile and Argentina. His academic interests range from social movements to political participation, formation of party systems, civil society and political representation, and cultural identity and social justice. Dr. Tricot has lectured at international conferences and forums in Spain, Chile, and in the US and participated in academic projects, primarily those which engage with the emergence of the political power of indigenous movements. He also has a number of publications on indigenous movements and political participation.

Dr. Tricot spent most of his childhood in Ireland where he was born. At the age of 10, his family moved to Chile where he attended school and later joined the journalism program at the University of Playa Ancha. It was during his undergraduate years when he became interested in social movements. After finishing his undergraduate studies in Chile, he traveled abroad and obtained a master’s degree in Latin American studies with a focus on politics and social movements at the University of Salamanca in Spain and later a PhD in political science. For almost the last ten years, Dr. Tricot was the Academic Director of SIT’s program in Chile on cultural identity, social justice, and community development. He is excited to move back to Spain with his family.

Zuriñe Leon, MA, Program Assistant

Zuriñe (“Zuri”) received her bachelor’s degree in modern languages with specialization in English and linguistics from the University of Deusto in 2016. That same year, she moved to Nebraska, where she completed a master’s degree in literature while working as a teaching assistant of Spanish at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. After graduating in 2018, she moved back to Spain and started another master’s degree in teacher training for compulsory secondary education, baccalaureate, vocational training, and language teaching. Before working at SIT, she taught English in Bilbao. Zuriñe supports the logistics of the program and communication between students and families.

Lecturers typically include:

Estibaliz Amorrortu Gómez

Estibaliz Amorrortu Gómez holds a bachelor’s degree in Basque philology from the University of Deusto and a PhD in linguistics from the University of Southern California. She is a professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Basque Studies at University of Deusto , where she teaches BA courses in Basque philology, modern languages and Basque language and culture. During the past few years, she has been working on language attitudes toward Basque among non-Basque speakers and new speakers of Basque. She is co-author of the book Nuevos Hablantes del Euskera: Experiencias, Actitudes e Identidades (2016).

José Ramón Bengoetxea Caballero

José Ramón Bengoetxea Caballero studied law and philosophy at National Distance Education University (UNED) and the University of the Basque Country, where he graduated in law. He was awarded a PhD in law from the University of Edinburgh and completed his training at the Universität des Saarlandes and the European University Institute. He is an accredited professor at the University of the Basque Country where he also coordinates the ehuGune (“rethinking together”) program. Since 2012, he has been a visiting professor at the University of Bordeaux, where he teaches Spanish constitutionalism. He has also been a visiting professor at the universities of Oxford, Stanford, Helsinki, and Kansai. He has served as secretary general of the Basque Council of the European Movement; as a member of the Basque Country’s Arbitration Commission; as a member of the European Union Court of Justice; as deputy minister of Labour and Social Security in the Basque government, and as a scientific director of the International Institute of Legal Sociology. In 2010, he received the Eusko Ikaskuntza-Laboral Kutxa Award for Humanities, Culture, Arts and Social Sciences. His research and publications explore issues of legal reasoning, theory, philosophy and sociology of European law, theory of European integration, political philosophy, European regionalism, transitional justice, legal pluralism, comparative law and comparison of legal cultures.

Asier Blas Mendoza

Asier Blas Mendoza heads the Department of Political Science, at Universidad del Pais Vasco where teaches comparative politics, Basque and Spanish political systems, and citizen participation. His research is focused on democratic innovation, comparative nationalism and power-sharing. His last book, in Spanish, is Patterns of Democracy in Spanish Autonomous Communities, and his recent academic articles are “The Jewel in the Crown: Cooptive Capacity and Participation During Austerity in Cardiff and San Sebastian-Donostia” (IJURR, 2018) and “Power-Sharing Coalitions in the Basque Country (1987–1998): Centripetal coalitions vs. consociational coalitions“(Nations and Nationalism, 2018).

Jesús Casquete Badallo

Jesús Casquete Badallo is professor of Political Thought and Social and Political Movements at the University of the Basque Country, and a fellow of the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung in Berlin. His main research areas are the theory of collective action and social movements, Basque nationalism and German contemporary history. He is the author of the following books: El Poder de la Dalle: Ensayos sobre acción colectiva, En el nombre de Euskal Herria, La religión política del nacionalismo vasco radical; and Nazis a pie de Calle: Una historia de las SA en la República de Weimar. He is also co-author of Diccionario Ilustrado de Símbolos del Nacionalismo Vasco.

Cristina Churruca Muguruza

Cristina Churruca Muguruza is associate professor and a senior researcher at the Human Rights Institute of the University of Deusto. She developed her research career at the University of the Basque Country and at the University of Bochum in Germany. She has received several research grants including a researcher training fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Education at the University of the Basque Country, the Marie Curie postdoctoral fellowship from the European Union, and from the Institute of Peace and Armed Conflict at the University of Bochum. Her main areas of research are human security, in particular the protection and resilience of forced displaced people; current trends and challenges in human rights, humanitarian action and peacebuilding; and the common foreign and security policy of the European Union in this field. 

Felipe Gómez Isa

Felipe Gómez Isa holds a BA in law and economics and a PhD in international law from the University of Deusto. He is professor of international law at the Bilbao campus of the University of Deusto, where he teaches BA courses on international law and human rights in Spanish and in English, and MA courses on international protection of human rights and women’s rights. His publications include El Derecho al Desarrollo Como Derecho Humano en el Ambito Jurídico Enternacional, Privatisation and Human Rights in the Age of Globalisation (co-edited with Koen de Feyter), International Human Rights Law in a Global Context (co-edited with Koen de Feyter), Rethinking Transitions: Equality and social justice in societies emerging from conflict (co-edited with Gaby Oré), Freedom From Want from a Local Perspective: Evolution and challenges ahead in the local relevance of human rights (edited by Koen de Feyter, Stephan Parmentier). He is part of the research team Social and Cultural Challenges in a Changing World, recognized by the Basque government.

José Ramón Intxaurbe Vitorica

José Ramón Intxaurbe Vitorica is professor of constitutional law and history of law, as well as researcher at the Pedro Arrupe Human Rights Institute of the University of Deusto. His publications and research areas are related to the legal challenges posed by the management of socio-cultural diversity in contemporary democracies; law and equality policies and nondiscrimination or migration; and asylum policies of the European Union. Within the Basque government’s Peace and Coexistence Plan, he is co-author of several reports on strategies and actions in favor of peace and coexistence as well as on victims of terrorism and violence, commissioned by the general secretariat for Human Rights, Coexistence and Cooperation. 

Xabier Landabidea Urresti

Xabier Landabidea Urresti holds a BA in audiovisual communication and a BA in political science and administration from University of the Basque Country,  a master's degree in corporate, institutional and audiovisual communication, and a PhD in leisure and human potential from the University of Deusto. He is an associate researcher at the University of Deusto, where he teaches at the Bilbao campus on the undergraduate degrees in modern languages and management and Basque language and culture. His publications have dealt mainly with leisure, communication, and contemporary Basque society. He was an associate researcher at the Institute of Leisure Studies as part of the Leisure and Human Development research team, recognized by the Basque government. He is working on the reformulation of the research line of the Institute of Basque Studies on Basque identity or identities and the challenges of the global era.

Rafael Leonisio Calvo

Rafael Leonisio Calvo holds a PhD in Political Science from University of the Basque Country. He was a fellow of the University Teacher Training Programme of the Ministry of Education and is a member of the University of the Basque Country’s Euskobarómetro team. He also collaborates with the University of Deusto’s Regional Manifestos Project. His main research areas are political parties, electoral behavior, content analysis methodology and Basque politics, on which he has published several book chapters and articles in journals such as the European Journal of Political Research, Regional and Federal Studies, National Identities, Revista Española de Ciencia Política, Revista de Estudios Políticos, and Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas. He is also the author of “Cambio y Continuidad en el Discurso Político: El caso del Partido Socialista de Euskadi” and co-editor of “ETA's Terrorist Campaign: From violence to politics.”

Steffen Bay Rasmussen

Steffen Bay Rasmussen holds a PhD in international relations from the University of the Basque Country, a BA in political science from the University of Southern Denmark, and an MA in European studies from the University of Aalborg (Denmark). He is associate professor at the University of Deusto, teaching courses on public international law, comparative regional integration, security and defense, and European integration. He is director of the Erasmus Mundus Master in Euroculture. His recent publications include “The Ideas and Practices of the European Union’s Structural Antidiplomacy: An unstable equilibrium,” “Constructing the European Demos through External Action? The case of consular assistance to EU citizens,” “EU Diplomacy as a Quantum Superposition: Toward a conceptual common ground for interdisciplinary studies of a pluralising phenomenon?,” “The New Narrative for Europe and the Culture Identity Nexus in European Union Public Diplomacy,” “EU Diplomacy After Lisbon: Institutional innovation, diplomatic practices and international strategy.”

María Pilar Rodríguez Pérez

María Pilar Rodríguez Pérez obtained her PhD degree in romance languages and literature at Harvard University. She was a professor in the departments of Spanish, Comparative Literature, and Women´s Studies at Columbia University and presently she teaches at the Department of Communication at University of Deusto in San Sebastian. She has published six books and 50 articles and book chapters on literature, film, culture and gender studies, and is the winner of three national essay prizes. She is the principal researcher of the communication research group at Deusto University. She has been awarded three research posts by the National Assessment Commission on Research Activities. She is a member of the editorial board of several academic journals and has recently been a visiting professor at the University of Dartmouth College, University of Chicago, and Columbia University. Her last book, written with Rob Stone, is Basque Cinema: A Cultural and Political History.

Eduardo Javier Ruiz Vieytez

Eduardo Javier Ruiz Vieytez is professor of constitutional law at University of Deusto, where he serves as dean of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, and previously was director of the Human Rights Institute. He has been legal adviser of the Basque Ombudsman and the president of an NGO working to promote immigrants’ rights in the Basque country. He has also been a member of the Spanish Council for Integration of Migrants (a consultative body of the Spanish government), and participated in several missions of the Council of Europe concerning minorities. His fields of research are integration policies, national conflicts, minority rights, and the relation between human rights and religious, linguistic and cultural diversity. He has been a member of the board of directors of the International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion network, and of the board of the International Institute for the Sociology of Law (Oñati, Basque Country).

María Luisa Sánchez Barrueco

María Luisa Sánchez Barrueco holds a BA and a PhD in law from the University of Deusto, a degree of profound studies in European and international law from the Université Catholique de Louvain, and an MA in European public administration from the College of Europe in Bruges. Since 2010, she has been a senior lecturer at the University of Deusto in Bilbao and San Sebastian. She teaches courses on international organizations and European Union law at the undergraduate level; and EU foreign policy and EU relations with Latin America at the graduate level. She has provided specialized expertise to national and international public bodies, notably the UK House of Lords, the International Organization for Migration, and the European Parliament. She has provided professional training on EU-related matters to the national diplomatic academies of Ecuador, Uruguay, and Chile. Her current research is focused on EU institutions and policies with specific foci on institution design, performance evaluation, and public accountability and integrity, all within the framework of multilevel governance. In 2015, she cofounded EUFINACCO (European Financial Accountability), an international research network which has grown to more than 50 members in 25 European states. The European Commission awarded her a Jean Monnet Module on Students' Awareness of Public Integrity and Accountability by the European Commission from 2017-20. She was also elected by the University Association for Contemporary European Studies as a member of their executive committee from 2017-2019.  

Gorka Urrutia Asua

Gorka Urrutia Asua is researcher and director at the Pedro Arrupe Human Rights Institute. He holds a PhD in international and intercultural studies at the University of Deusto; a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology from University of the Basque Country; and a specialist diploma in international humanitarian Action-NOHA, UD and University of Uppsala. He has worked with NGOs, governmental and international organizations in the field of international cooperation in Europe and South America. His research focuses on human rights, migrations, diversity and religion.

Independent Study Project


Independent Study Project

You will spend four weeks near the end of the semester working on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursuing original research on a topic of interest to you. The ISP is conducted in Spain or in another approved location appropriate to the project.

You will work with a faculty member or professional with expertise in your area of interest. These experts include academics, policy advisors, development practitioners, and lawyers. Senior staff or governmental agency advisors may work with you on design, implementation, and evaluation of your project.

Sample topic areas:

  • Perceptions of the Catalonia’s independence movement in the Basque country
  • Self-determination and constitutional crisis in Spain
  • Comparative approach to the independence referendum in Catalonia and Scotland
  • Basque nationalism and collective memory 
  • Comparative approach to social policy in Catalonia and the Basque country
  • Public policy in the context of national minorities
  • Public policies in national
  • Law in social theory: the case of the Basque country
  • Law, justice, and human rights
  • The future of the nation state in Europe: policy and legal perspectives

Career Paths


Career Paths

Students on this program may consider career paths in different sectors including with:

  • Public policy consultancy organizations
  • Pressure groups 
  • Public relations companies
  • European Commission Delegation in Washington
  • International Development agencies
  • Government and administrative institutions

Cost and Scholarships


Cost and 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. 

SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: Not yet available.

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • Comparative approach to European regional autonomy
    • Regional autonomy and nationalism in the Basque country
    • The Basque model of regional autonomy
    • Autonomy and the constitutional debate about independence in Catalonia
    • The independence movement after the 2014 Referendum in Scotland
    • EU policy and the future of Europe
    • European integration, international law, and self-determination
    • Contemporary human rights in Spain and in the EU context
    • Art, sport, media, and cultural expressions of conflict
  • Research Methods and Ethics seminar and Human Subjects Review
  • Methods of research in comparative politics, human rights, and social movements
  • Intensive language instruction in Spanish
  • All educational excursions to locations such as the Basque country, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Girona, including all related travel costs
  • Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period
  • Transportation

Room & Board: Not yet available.

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, in the program base (Bilbao), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period.
  • One homestay: 12 weeks with a Spanish or international family in Bilbao
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

Airfare to Program Site

Airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses: $190

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $ 50

International Phone: Each student must bring a smart phone that is able to accept a local SIM card with them to their program, or they must purchase a smart phone locally.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.

In order to make study abroad more accessible, SIT's partner colleges and universities may charge home school tuition fees for their students participating on an SIT Study Abroad program. If your institution has an agreement with SIT and charges fees different from those assessed by SIT, please contact your study abroad advisor for more details. The SIT published price is the cost to direct enroll in the SIT program. Tuition fees may vary for students based on your home college's or university's billing policies with SIT.

Speak With An Admissions Counselor

Speak With An Admissions Counselor