Witness history in the making as you experience the peacebuilding process in Colombia.
Learn about the history of conflict in Colombia and its beleaguered peace accords, including the implementation of reparations, reintegration, and reconciliation.
Examine the various measures, strategies, programs, and projects that have been put in place by international, national, and community organizations.
Develop a theoretical and conceptual understanding of the construction of a culture of peace.
Witness the consequences and challenges of recovering from prolonged conflict and apply theories and concepts across world issues.
Experience the vibrant, multicultural, Caribbean Coast city of Cartagena, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Integrate peace studies with learning about Colombia’s cultures through music, dance, and food.
Participate in community-based peacebuilding activities for two weeks at SembrandoPaz, a nongovernmental peacebuilding organization in Sincelejo, Sucre.
Learn from and participate in SembrandoPaz’s community-based approach to post-conflict reconciliation. See their efforts to mitigate the impacts of conflict and to rebuild, reconstruct, and revive fractured relations and displaced communities.
Gain an understanding of how Colombians view the peace process and are living in a historic moment and visit rural communities that were directly affected by the armed conflict.
Meet with peacemakers, human rights defenders, victims, community activists, and ex–guerrilla combatants, among others and witness the social dynamics of reconciliation and peacebuilding, deepening your understanding and analysis of the issues discussed and read about.
Improve your Spanish by practicing in class, on excursions, with your homestay family, and while designing your final project related to building a culture of peace.
Critical Global Issue of Study
Peace | Human Rights | Social Movements
Three semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent, and the ability to follow coursework in Spanish, as assessed by SIT.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- How conflict and post-conflict issues shape social, political, and cultural realities
- Theories of peacebuilding
- Core elements of a culture of peace
- The Colombian peace accords and the process of implementation
- Community-based practice and theory
- The complexities of reparations, reintegration, and reconciliation
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.
- Building a Culture of Peace – syllabus
- (PEAC3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Colombia is recently emerging from decades of conflict and today provides an excellent setting in which to examine the forging of a culture of peace. This course examines the various measures, strategies, programs, and projects that have been put in place by international, national, and community organizations to mitigate the impact of conflict and to rebuild, reconstruct, and revive fractured relations and displaced communities. Students will have an opportunity to learn from and participate with a community-based approach to post-conflict reconciliation and resettlement. Based in the Caribbean Coast city of Cartagena, the course will expose students to the social dynamics of reconciliation and peacebuilding. Students will have opportunities to learn outside the classroom, thus deepening their understanding and analysis of the issues discussed and read about. This course is taught in Spanish and English, with readings, lectures, and discussions happening in either or both languages, depending on the context.
- Spanish for Social and Cultural Studies I – syllabus
- (SPAN2503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Spanish for Social and Cultural Studies II – syllabus
- (SPAN3003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- Spanish for Social and Cultural Studies III – syllabus
- (SPAN3503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- In this course, students build their speaking, reading, and writing skills through classroom and field instruction. They practice reading as they learn the formal terms and local expressions needed to discuss peacebuilding, reconciliation, and community issues and to interact in settings related to the program themes. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in classes according to their language level and receive further language practice in the homestays and on field visits.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Local Excursions in Cartagena
The program’s local, field-based excursions give you additional opportunities to learn about building a culture of peace. Highlights include visits to:
The Museum of the Inquisition
Feminist NGOs and peace organizations
During this two-week excursion, you will learn about and participate in community-based peacebuilding activities with the nongovernmental organization SembrandoPaz. You will have the unique opportunity to meet with peacemakers, employees at state institutions, human rights defenders, victims, advocates, church workers, community activists, social movement leaders, and guerrilla ex-combatants, among others and to visit rural communities that were directly affected by the armed conflict.
You will experience firsthand how Colombians are living a historic moment in a unique peace process. You will see how victims of the conflict are registered for reparations and meet with new political leaders form the ex-guerrilla group, the FARC, which is now a political party.
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.
Live with a local family for approximately four weeks over the course of the summer and experience the Caribbean port city of Cartagena. The city is known for its beautiful beaches and its historic Old Town, with cobblestone streets, colorful colonial buildings, and lively squares.
Improve your Spanish skills through daily practice with your host family and gain valuable exposure to Colombia’s traditions and cultures. Most host families are middle-class and live in apartments or small houses in the city.
Other accommodations include shared dorms in program centers, hostels, or small hotels.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Beatriz E. Balanta, PhD, Academic Director
Beatriz received a PhD in Latin American literature and culture from Duke University. As an undergraduate, she studied sociology at Boston College and became fascinated by how race, gender, class, and history combine to create people’s identities and national cultures. Beatriz is an alumna of SIT; in 1998 she enrolled in the African Arts and Culture program in Accra, Ghana, where she conducted research on women writers. She is a child of the diaspora, born in Puerto Tejada (Cauca), Colombia, and emigrating to Boston as a teenager. This radical change in geographic and social coordinates plus extensive travel throughout South America, Europe, and West Africa have taught her that reality is a hodgepodge of local colors and idiosyncrasies tied together by socio-economic and historical strands that expand beyond the homegrown. Beatriz’s scholarly interests are broad. She is currently working on a book manuscript about portraiture, abolitionist literature, and black radical politics in nineteenth-century Brazil. She has published essays about abduction and colonial hauntings, the colonial dreams and failed projects of confederate Southerners in Brazil, and the visual representation of the black body in Colombia. With a group of feminist scholars, artists, and activists, she is co-editing a series of artistic pamphlets on the intricate connections of sexism, gender violence, and war in Latin America. She has taught courses on race and war in the Americas, the meaning of freedom, post-colonial and feminist theory, and gender and visual culture. Beatriz’s academic interests intersect with peace studies.
Ricardo Esquivia Ballestas, JD
Ricardo is the director and legal representative of Sembrandopaz, a human rights lawyer, and a Mennonite activist for peace. Ricardo’s life work has been dedicated to representing and improving the lives of society’s most vulnerable populations. He was one of the founders of the Christian Center for Justice, Peace, and Nonviolent Action (JUSTAPAZ) in Bogotá, serving as director for 13 years. For 10 years he was the representative of the Protestant churches to the National Peace Council, whose mission was to advise the president of the republic in the achievement and maintenance of peace. For 16 years he was general coordinator of the human rights and peace commission of the Evangelical Council of Colombia, Commission of Restoration, Life and Peace. He is a fervent advocate for the work of grassroots organizations and is also a recognized lecturer and mediator. His commitment to reconciliation proposes dialogue between adverse actors as the best mechanism to recognize the other, to reach agreements, and to build together, dedicating efforts to consolidate proposals such as the Regional Peacebuilding Area of the Montes de María and promoting initiatives such as the Ágoras Ciudadanas. Both are examples of creating spaces for learning, dialogue, and deliberation in which a diverse group of civil society organizations converge to participate and influence the decisions that affect them.
Lillian Hall, MS
Lillian is an agronomist by profession and currently serves as the international relations coordinator and manager for Sembrandopaz at the Villa Bárbara farm in Sincelejo, Colombia. Lillian was born in Arizona and studied international agriculture at Cornell University. Prior to moving to Colombia, Lillian lived for nearly 30 years in Nicaragua, where she developed her expertise in international public relations as director of a small NGO in Nicaragua and served as a leader of delegations for understanding and solidarity.
Verónica Montaño, JD, MA
Verónica graduated as a lawyer and recently completed academic studies with a master’s degree in social conflict and peacebuilding from the University of Cartagena. She has worked with Sembrandopaz since 2013 to accompany the peaceful mobilization carried out by a hundred rural victims of the violence from Alta Montaña in the region of Montes de María. Currently, Verónica is part of the political culture area of Sembrandopaz, promoting the enforcement of rights for communities that Sembrandopaz accompanies before State institutions for the towns of Mampuján, Libertad, Pichilín, and Alta Montaña. Her commitment to the area of human rights led to the coordination of the project Citizen Commissions of Peace and Reconciliation — Peacebuilding and Promotion of Reconciliation from the Territories of Colombia. Verónica is also a founding member of the Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE).
Etel is an agricultural engineer with a focus on project management and has been part of Sembrandopaz since 2008. Her expertise is in rural economy, advising on socioeconomic proposals to benefit communities and activities related to food security, moving towards a diversified production with surpluses that can be sold and/or transformed on a small scale. Etel has led the coordination of several successful and sustainable projects coordinating farmers to exchange experiences and techniques related to clean production, biological control of pests, and organic nutrition to produce safe agricultural products. Etel also works with new agroecological practices at the Sembrandopaz Villa Bárbara Farm to then exchange learned experiences with rural communities.
Yésica has an academic background as a social worker and human rights specialist. She currently leads the political culture area of Sembrandopaz, including the operational coordination of the Multilevel Peace Program Colombia-Switzerland — Seeds of Hope. Yésica encourages and facilitates political participation spaces with grassroots organizations, such as the Regional Space for Peacebuilding, while also being the architect of the creation and organization of the Ágoras Ciudadanas, working with community sectors where Sembrandopaz intervenes.
América is a volunteer with Sembrandopaz in the areas of aesthetics and art. She teaches drawing, painting, modeling, wood sculpture, xylography, and innovation of handicrafts and recycled art. She is a member of the team of muralists of the School of Art and Open Workshop in Perquin, El Salvador, and has directed murals in the United States, Germany, Mexico, Guatemala, Switzerland, and Colombia.
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:
- History of conflict in Colombia
- Colombian peace accords and process of implementation
- Elements of a culture of peace
- Community-based practice and theories of peacebuilding
- Intensive language instruction in Spanish
- All educational excursions including two weeks in Sincelejo, Sucre
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
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, time in the program base (Cartagena), on all excursions, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- The homestay
- 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.
Books & Supplies: $100
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.