Examine the intersection between policy, law, and regional autonomy in Spain and the European Union. Learn from the paradigmatic cases of Spanish and Scottish independence movements and develop a comparative policy and legal perspective on the future of the nation state and regional autonomy in Europe and beyond.
Live in Bilbao, one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, with unique culture, architecture, arts, and cuisine.
Travel to Barcelona and Girona in Catalonia, the French Basque Region in France, and Edinburgh in Scotland on excursions.
Study Spanish or develop proficiency in Spanish for Policy and Legal Studies at the International Spanish Center, University of Deusto, SIT’s partner in Bilbao.
Develop a comparative understanding of the role political and legal systems play in the design of social policy in the European Union.
Examine the impact of independence movements on social identity and policy making in the autonomous regions of Spain, France, and Scotland.
Engage with activists from pro-independence movements and gauge the views of supporters of autonomy about the future of the nation state in Spain and Europe.
Discuss with academics, policy-makers, and artists in Spain and Scotland the interconnectedness between policy, national identity, and human rights.
Conduct independent research and write a comparative research or white policy paper.
Critical Global Issue of Study
Peace | Human Rights | Social Movements
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.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
The excursion to Scotland provides a comparative perspective to possible trajectories pro-independence movements might take in the context of European regional autonomies. In Scotland, the independence referendum of September 2014 did not garner enough support and the discussion about a second referendum is temporarily postponed. Students explore the impact of Brexit on the Scottish pro-independence nationalist movement and how this has shaped the discussion about Scottish statehood. Through a comparative examination of the Scottish and Catalonian cases, students draw conclusions about models for independence referendums, analyze the factors that led to the passage of the independence referendum in one region and its defeat in another, and assess the impact of the central government’s approach to pro-independence movements. Through meetings and discussions with academics and policy makers in Edinburgh, students develop a comparative understanding of the regional autonomy structure in Scotland in relation with the Basque and Catalonian models in areas of political structure and political parties, constitutional composition, policy making, international representation, and tax autonomy. A major outcome of the excursion is for students to articulate the constitutional, legal, and institutional conditions for working regional autonomy models and role of the national government and EU in providing a democratic governance process and framework for people to channel claims and grievances.
Girona, Catalonia, Spain
Catalonia has been the center of political debate and discussion in Spain since the organization of its independence referendum in October 2017 and around the issues of what the Catalans call “el procés” (the independence process). In the context of this excursion, students learn in situ and firsthand about the polarized attitude towards the independence process, meet with legislators at the Catalan parliament; nationalist and pro Spain political party leaders; independence social movement members; and municipality representatives who overwhelmingly support a legal referendum. The excursion is coordinated in collaboration with the Faculty of Political Science, Law, and Criminology of the Universidad de Girona. Students learn about the Catalan political system, nationalist demands, and draw a comparative understanding about the institutional arrangements of regional autonomy, independence referendums, and the constitutional legality and implications of independence movements.
Guernika / Gernica, Basque Country
Gernika has become a symbol of the Basque history and collective memory. Gernika has come to embody Basque identity not only because of its resistance to the Nazi air attack on April 26, 1937 but also due to its celebration by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso in a famous painting of the same name that is currently exhibited in the museum Reina Sofia in Madrid. Places such as “Casa de Juntas” and the “el árbol de Gernika” are symbols of the Basque country and historical territory of the peoples of Bizkaia. Students learn from the local scholars who lead this excursion about the historical and cultural context of Gernika before they visit the Peace and Memory museum. Through the excursion to Gernika, students develop field-based and empirical understanding of the roots of Basque national identity and are able to contextualize the claims of Basque social and political organizations.
French Basque Country
Though the French Basque Country lies on the French side of the border, it is part of the Basque national construction and is referred to as Iparralde, our French Basque Country. The shared Basque historical and cultural roots, including language and collective memory, have for centuries facilitated exchange maintained family relation across the border. The excursion to the French Basque Country, located about an hour and a half from Bilbao, is coordinated in collaboration with Dr. Igor Ahedo, Director of the Political Science department at the Universidad del País Vasco, Bilbao, and expert academic on the historical and political processes of the French Basque Country. Students visit French Basque social and political organizations and speak with people that have participated in different nationalist political processes in the last decade, in particular those who were part of peace process. One main outcome of the excursion is that it helps students understand and visualize the multidimensional repercussions of one of the longest national conflicts in contemporary Europe and draw a comparative approach of how the conflict was dealt with by both Spain, France, and the EU.
Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country
Even though Bilbao is the most important city in terms of population and influence, the political and legislative capitol of the Basque Country is in the city of Vitoria. Located only an hour away, Vitoria is the city that houses the Lehndakari or Basque Country president, head of the Eusko Jaurlaritza (Executive Power); and also the Eusko Legebiltzarra (Basque Parliament) with legislative competences and authority stated in the Basque autonomy agreement with the Spanish central government of 2004. During this excursion students visit and understand firsthand the Basque political system and its institutions, meet with Basque politicians to learn about their positions regarding the independence of the Basque nation, and visit social organizations that work in Vitoria around topics 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.
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 distance by bus or tram. Students who need to take transportation back and forth from their homestay will get a stipend to cover their travel. Bilbao is a diverse and multicultural city and besides the Basque, the local population includes families of Andalusian, Castilian, and Aragonese origin.
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 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.
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
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.
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
Room & Board: $5,904
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
Books & Supplies: $150
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.
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.