University of Oregon

Maya Communities and Social Justice in Chiapas

Program Overview

This 7-week summer program is ideal for those interested in Spanish, Latin American Studies, Ethnic Studies, History, International Studies, Anthropology, Food Studies, Family Human Services, and Environmental Studies. Learn about the ways in which globalization and NAFTA have affected agriculture, subsistence and food production, land ownership, human rights, and indigenous autonomy among Maya communities in San Cristóbal de las Casas and its surrounding areas. The courses offered will provide historical and cultural context to better understand contemporary Chiapas. You will then have the opportunity to engage with the local community by collaborating with Mexican students on a service learning project. The program will be hosted by the Instituto de Lenguas Jovel and its Director Helga Loebell.

Academic Details

Earn 12 quarter credits (7-8 semester credits) of upper division Spanish courses. All courses will be taught in Spanish. Professor Analisa Taylor will teach SPAN 407: Academic and Public Engagement across Communities and SPAN 490: Mesoamerican Foodways and Indigenous Autonomy. For UO Spanish majors, these two classes will fulfill the 400-level SPAN classes that normally must be taken in residence. A third course called the Indigenous History and Culture of Chiapas will be taught by Reginaldo Gómez Trujillo, a local scholar from Instituto de Lenguas Jovel.   

One of the unique features of this program is that you will have the opportunity to engage with the local community through service learning. As part of the Academic and Public Engagement across Communities course, you will be partnered with a Mexican student from a local university in San Cristóbal de las Casas. Students will contribute for 2-3 weeks to the Mexican students’ semester-long project. Service learning projects and placements can range from working on environmental and agricultural issues, to education, social work, public health, and other customizable projects based on student interests.    

For students from partner universities: Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

Faculty and Staff

Analisa Taylor is an Associate Professor of Spanish in the University of Oregon’s Department of Romance Languages. She teaches courses on modern Mexican literature and culture, indigenous narratives, and testimony. 

Housing Description

You will stay with a Mexican host family in a modest middle-class home located within walking distance of Instituto de Lenguas Jovel. You will have access to a private room and you will eat most meals with your host family. All families have internet in their home; free internet is available in the study center at Instituto Jovel and at many local cafes.

You will live in San Cristóbal de las Casas, a city with a population of 200,000 that sits nestled in the Valley of Jovel at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet. This high mountain city has been a center of Mayan civilization for centuries. Today, many internationally renowned non-profit organizations dedicated to human rights, social services, and fair trade food and hand craft artisan cooperatives make San Cristóbal a hub of engaged activism, tourism, and intellectual activity. San Cristóbal is a delightful pedestrian-centered, safe, and livable city for children and families. 

Additional Requirements

  • There is an additional waiver to Mexico required for this program. 
  • Two Spanish courses numbered above SPAN 320, or the equivalent.

Dates and Deadlines

TermYearPriority DeadlineDeadlineArrival DateDeparture Date
Summer20162/1/20163/1/20167/17/20169/3/2016

Priority Discounts

If your program has a Priority Deadline, complete all pre-decision application materials by this date to receive a $100 credit toward your program fee. Please note, students participating in multiple summer programs are only eligible to receive the $100 credit once.

Note: this $100 discount does not apply to priority deadlines for SIT programs.

Course Equivalencies

Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

UO students, please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.