Social Change in Central America: Exploring Peace, Justice, and Community Engagement
Explore the life and culture of the peoples of Guatemala, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Improve your Spanish language skills while living with families in the Guatemalan highlands (5 weeks). Study the role of the church within the situation of political oppression and social injustice in Costa Rica (4 weeks). In Nicaragua, learn about the historical context of conflict and change through the eyes of Central American women and men, and examine citizen participation in policy formulation in a globalized economy (6 weeks). Learn with and from grassroots community organizations dedicated to work on issues related to conflict, foreign policy, gender, and economic and social justice. The unique histories and lives of the people not only inspire, but also challenge students to think about their role as agents of change.
The Social Change in Central America program is open to everyone - Augsburg students, as well as undergraduate students from any other institution.
- The history, culture, and anti-oppression struggles of the people of Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua
- Indigenous cosmovisions, the role of religion in social change, legacies of armed struggle, community organizing and engagement, and the impact of globalization and immigration
- Diverse approaches to environmental conservation, sustainability, economic issues, and social justice
- Liberation theologians and practitioners
- Women’s collectives and representatives of feminist movements
- Government officials, political party representatives, former guerrilla leaders
- Mayan priestess and Indigenous leaders
- Student and youth groups
Students will take one course while in Guatemala, one in Costa Rica, and two while in Nicaragua. Courses are taught by a mix of partner schools with which we work, as well as our own on-site faculty and staff. Your coursework is in English, there is no Spanish language prerequisite. CGEE believes in experiential education as a key factor to learning and will often bring students on cultural excursions, have guest speakers, and visit local organizations that will tie in the subject matter with real-world experiences and stories.
Flow of the SemesterIn Guatemala, students will take a one-on-one Spanish language course at our partner language school. The courses range from beginning to advanced, as well as culture and literature courses for very advanced speakers. Once in Costa Rica, students will take their Latin American Liberation Theologies course. In Nicaragua, students will take two courses, Citizen Participation and Cultural Conflict and Change. Students will complete 16 credits in the semester.
See below for course syllabi and detailed descriptions of each course:
- Choose one Spanish course:
- A one-on-one Spanish language course - from beginner to advanced and culture/lit courses (4 cr)
- Latin American Liberation Theologies (Religion 366) (4 cr)
- Citizen Participation within a Globalized Economy: A Nicaraguan Case Study (Political Science 310) (4 cr)
- Cultural Conflict and Change in Latin America: The Central American Context (History/Women’s Studies 355) (4 cr)
CGEE believes in learning from the community, which is why we include homestays with local families on the program. You will have multiple homestays on this program – a mix of both rural and urban homes across the three countries. Showing students different family environments is important for learning about the diversity of life and culture in Central America.
In Guatemala, students spend four weeks with an urban family in the western highland city of Quetzaltenango, also known as “Xela.” In Costa Rica, students spend a few days in a San José guest house and then live with families southeast of the city. Short homestays in the La Carpio and Longo Mai communities are also included. In Nicaragua, students initially live in CGEE’s study center and then spend four weeks with a local family in Managua. There will also be a three-night rural homestay.
We recommend the blog post “What to Expect from a Homestay Experience” from a CGEE alum to hear a student perspective.
CGEE programs are highly experiential by design. We like to get you out of the classroom and into the community! Our classes include guest speakers, trips to visit local groups, museums, businesses, and more. We also include fun excursions in the area to help you learn even more about the history, culture, and region!
All of our excursions are included in program fee, so you will always have amazing activities to join, with no hidden costs! Our Central America program takes students to a variety of excellent areas such as:
- Tour the Central Plaza of Guatemala City and visit the city of Antigua, a world heritage site known for its Spanish colonial architecture.
- Travel to Quetzaltenango, the second largest city in Guatemala, and learn about the legacy of war, engage in traditional cooking classes, bathe in hot baths, and visit a glassblowing factory.
- Visit a sacred indigenous site and participate in a traditional Mayan Ceremony. Learn about the life of indigenous communities, their cosmovision, history, and the challenges indigenous people face today.
- Weekend stay with La Carpio community—an economically disadvantaged immigrant neighborhood that receives 700 tons of waste each day—to learn about issues around environmental racism and justice
- Three-day stay in Longo Mai—a community that has experienced different waves of refugees from Nicaragua and El Salvador—to learn about the history of the community and its environmental conservation, self-sustainability, and community organizing efforts
- Day travel to Cartago, where students will visit the nation’s principal church, the enormous Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles
- A visit to the protected area of Miraflor in the coffee and tobacco region of Estelí to learn about rural development initiatives and conservation
- A day trip to Granada, one of the oldest colonial cities in the Americas, as well as the city of Masaya, a capital of Nicaraguan folklore
What is Included
CGEE program costs are comprehensive and include:
- in-country transportation
- all meals
- program-related travel and excursions
- fair wages for staff and speakers
- flights to and from the program - while CGEE arranges group travel for our semester participants, you will pay out of pocket for your ticket
- personal spending money
- for souvenirs, occasional dining out and events, or for more extensive travel during spring/fall breaks, if you choose to do so.
- Books and other supplies
*Please note: your school may charge other fees or tuition rates, depending on their study abroad policies, or whether Augsburg CGEE is an approved program at your school. Please talk to your school’s study abroad advisor to learn more about how costs and financial aid for study abroad work at your institution.
For Augsburg University students: The tuition for a semester program during the academic year 2017/18 is equivalent to one semester at Augsburg University. You will also receive an automatic scholarship of $1,500 for this program. All of your financial aid package, including scholarships, will apply to this program. Augsburg students will receive a personalized cost estimate form (including your financial aid award) once you have started your application. For more questions about study abroad/away financial policies, please come to one of our information sessions.
We have a variety of scholarships and discounts available to students participating on a CGEE semester program. Each application is linked below for more information:
- Students of Color Endowed Scholarship
- Yackel Endowed Scholarship
- Diversity Scholarship
- Early Award (Need-based) - see if you qualify for an award before you are accepted into the program!
- Returnee Discount
- Automatic discount of 10% off a second semester program for students who combine two semester programs during their college career. There are no forms to submit for this discount.
- Summer Discount
- Students who participate in a full semester program in Mexico will receive a 10% discount off a summer session (before or after the semester program). There are no forms to submit for this discount.
- Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA) Member Discount
- Award of $500 tuition discount. Students who qualify must submit a PJSA Membership Confirmation Form to receive the aid. This discount cannot be applied to the Social Work in a Latin American Context program.
“This program has made an incredible impact on my life. Though it was personally challenging at certain points, these challenges have made me a better person. Thanks to this program, I have been able to learn how to be a global citizen, how to create social change both as an agent and also as an ally who can stand in solidarity with those who are fighting to change their systems, and how to truly connect with people who are completely different from me.” - Shelby, Augsburg College, Sociology major
“I loved the experience, and I am so happy to have this opportunity. I learned so much about myself, others, and the world, or should I say some countries In central America. I hope to carry all the lessons I learned back home with me and share them with my family and friends. I recommend to anyone contemplating on coming or not, to come and experience the "backyard" of the United States.” - Zekia, Augsburg College, Management major/Accounting minor
“This program is LIFE CHANGING. I definitely recommend it to people looking to be challenged, pushed to their limits, while at the same time learning how to pursue social change, and have fun. If you are looking to embark on a life changing journey, this is your program.” - Caleb, Clark University, International Relations & Global Studies major
Want to hear more?
Read our reviews at third-party website, goabroad.com, which awarded this program a Notable Mention on GoAbroad‘s list of Top Rated Study Abroad Programs of 2016!
More visual? Check out CGEE YouTube’s Central America Playlist
Augsburg students please contact email@example.com or visit us in the Oyate Commons, Christensen Center, lower level
Students from all other colleges and universities please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected with a CGEE representative
|Term||Year||App Deadline||Decision Date||Start Date||End Date|
|Spring Semester||2018||10/15/2017 **||Rolling Admission||01/22/2018||05/12/2018|
|Fall Semester||2018||03/15/2018 **||Rolling Admission||TBA||TBA|
** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.