Indigenous Rights and Environmental Justice in Bolivia

Language Requirement: None
Academic Standing by Program Start: Sophomore or above
Location: Americas, Bolivia
GPA: 2.5
Program Overview

Sustainable Goal: Climate ActionSustainable Goal: Gender EqualitySustainable Goal: Life on LandSustainable Goal: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Join and information session on February 13th at 4 pm in McKenzie 345! 

Embark on a unique 21-day program through Bolivia, delving into indigenous rights, environmental justice, and rich cross-cultural experiences. This program offers an immersive exploration of Bolivia's communities, diverse landscapes and environmental challenges.

Program Highlights:

  • Visit the Pantanal wetlands and see remarkable flora and fauna.
  • Participate in service learning with various communities.
  • Understand a range of lenses through which indigenous peoples and other actors view the environment.
  • Study a range of topics, including indigenous rights, self-determination and autonomy, environmental conservation, oil/gas/mining conflicts on indigenous territories, and sustainable development.
  • Gain firsthand insights into the complex interplay between cultural heritage, natural resource management, and modern challenges facing indigenous communities.

Tentative Itinerary (subject to change)

  • Santa Cruz (Days 1-2): Begin with a cultural orientation, visiting the Indigenous Parliament and World Wildlife Fund, capped by a welcome dinner.
  • Urubichá, Guarayo Indigenous Territory (Days 3-7): Engage in academic classes, forest excursions, and service-learning activities. Experience local music, dances, and meetings with indigenous organizations and women’s collectives.
  • Concepción/Monteverde, Chiquitano/Monkox Indigenous Territory (Days 8-9): Journey to Concepción with cultural stops and meetings with indigenous organizations. Visit communities engaged in sustainable extractive practices.
  • San Lorenzo de Lomerío, Chiquitano/Monkox Indigenous Territory (Days 10-13): Participate in academic classes, explore forests and lagoons, and immerse in community life with optional sports and dancing.
  • Hacienda Bodega, San Jose de Chiquitos (Days 14-15): Document community and environmental impacts of a gas pipeline and a gold mine, enjoy sunset views and campfire gatherings.
  • Puerto Quijarro, Pantanal Wetlands (Days 16-17): Observe wildlife and flora in the Otuquis Protected Area and visit communities affected by mining and pipeline projects.
  • Santiago (Day 18): Explore natural medicine, medicinal plants, crystal pools, cave paintings, and enjoy an evening concert.
  • Return to Santa Cruz (Days 19-21): Visit the Guarani Museum and Guembe Biocenter, concluding with a farewell dinner at a traditional Bolivian restaurant.

Here is a link to a PowerPoint presentation about the program given in Fall 2023.

Program ScholarshipApplicants to this program have the option to apply for a program-specific scholarship. Award recipients are chosen based on academic merit, financial need, and overall quality of their essay. Individual awards range from $500 - $1,000. To be considered, the Scholarship Essay must be completed by February 15th. Please refer to the Scholarship Essay instructions in the program application or speak with your GEO advisor for more details.

Dates and Deadlines
 
Term Year Deadline Arrival Date Departure Date
Summer 2024 3/15/2024 6/20/24 7/10/24

Discount for Pell Recipients

To expand access to study abroad, GEO is offering a $400 discount for this program (Summer 2024 and beyond) to UO students who currently have the Pell Grant as part of their federal financial aid (FAFSA).

Academic Details

GLBL 488/588 - 6 Quarter Credits*

Earn six quarter credits in this course, which combines reading assignments, lectures, and service learning. The curriculum is  designed to provide a rich educational experience encompassing various academic and practical aspects. This program will be primarily taught by Bolivian Professor José A. Martinez (indigenous, Quechua), Bolivian environmental scientist Zulma Villegas, and Professor Derrick Hindery, as well as indigenous leaders who will give guest lectures.

All course activities will be conducted in English, with translations provided for any non-English content.

GLBL Credit 

  • GLBL Block B: Professional Concentration elective credits (excluding Second Language Acquisition & Teaching).
  • GLBL Block C: Latin America and Caribbean Focus
  • GLBL intercultural experience requirement

Cross-Departmental Credit Possibilities: This course may also satisfy requirements in other academic departments. You are encouraged to consult with your academic advisor if you wish to count these credits towards another major or minor.

*Note: 6 UO Quarter Credits generally translate to 4 semester credits.

Course Equivalencies

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

Non-UO students: 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.

Additional requirements

Due to the remote nature of this program, and the sensitivity of the area and populations, this program is capped at 12 students.

Given the close-knit travel nature, it's important to approach this journey with an "expedition mentality" — prioritizing decisions that benefit the group as a whole over individual preferences.

Application process

This program has a rolling admission application processGEO staff (and the program faculty leader, if applicable) will complete a review of the application materials of complete applications in the order that they are submitted (“first come, first serve”). Decisions about acceptance will be made shortly after you submit a complete application. There are some programs that fill fast, some even before the deadline. Students are encouraged to complete applications and commit to programs early.

Acceptance is based on a holistic review of your application.  This includes a review of your GPA, transcripts (including courses taken and in-progress), any additional requirements or prerequisites (see section "Additional Requirements"), and the short statement. Some programs require a letter of recommendation from a faculty that is not the program's faculty leader. If a letter of recommendation is required, you will find more information in your GEO application portal.

Faculty and Staff

Dr. Derrick Hindery is a geographer and Associate Professor in the Department of International Studies at the University of Oregon. He has conducted collaborative research in Bolivia with Chiquitano/Monkóx, Guarayo, Ayoreo and other indigenous peoples since the late 1990s on the effects of pipelines and mines built by multinational corporations (e.g. Enron and Shell) and financed by international financial institutions on indigenous communities and the environment. Professor Hindery is the author of From Enron to Evo: Pipeline Politics, Global Environmentalism, and Indigenous Rights in Bolivia. He has supported various community initiatives in Bolivian indigenous territories, including non-timber forest products (e.g. medicinal oils), ecotourism, handicrafts, music, environmental education, institutional strengthening and outreach. He previously worked at Amazon Watch, where he was involved with campaigns supporting indigenous peoples in Colombia (e.g. the U'wa in their struggles against Occidental Petroleum) and Ecuador (Chevron/Texaco).
 
Dr. José Martinez has served as the head of Sociology at the Gabriel René Moreno Autonomous University (UAGRM) in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. A Quechua sociologist who conducts research on development, social movements, indigenous peoples, extractive industries and the environment, Martinez has served as a university professor at UAGRM since 1997. He is an associate investigator at the Center for Social Investigation in Support of Development (CISAD) and a member of the science committee. On a national level, he is a member of Bolivia’s Climate Justice Program. Martinez has published books and articles on forest management, deforestation, indigenous rights, indigenous history, impacts of fire on ecosystem biodiversity, protected areas and indigenous territories. He has taught courses on the anthropology of the Amazon, Chaco and Eastern Lowlands of Bolivia; Evaluation of Social and Environmental Impacts; Political Sociology; Research Methods and Techniques and Community Forestry. He worked with the territorial planning office (CPTI) at the lowland national indigenous organization (CIDOB), heading up the satellite imagery and Geographic Information Systems unit, produced an Atlas of indigenous territories in Bolivia and worked with indigenous peoples to map and insist the government create various large-scale indigenous territories in the country.

Dr. Juan Eduardo Wolf teaches undergraduate and graduate students in courses that include: Music in World Cultures, Introduction to Ethnomusicology, Musical Instruments of the World, Music in the Americas, Music in Puerto Rico, and Race in Latin American Music-Dance. His ethnographic research focuses on how people of African and Indigenous descent in Latin America use music-dance to understand and represent themselves.

Zulma Villegas Gomez’s passion for science and technology led her to study computer science at the Universidad Mayor de San Simón (Higher University of San Simón), located in Cochabamba, Bolivia, but her inclination towards people encouraged her to become a geographer, working with communities and the environment, particularly as a systems specialist of geographic information (GIS) and remote sensing. In recent years she has been involved in several research teams related to indigenous peoples, the environment, and socio-environmental evaluation. Currently, her area of interest is the relationship between the environment and society, focused mainly on deforestation processes in Bolivia. She has collaborated with two important research centers: the Noel Kempff Mercado Natural History Museum (MHNNKM-UAGRM) as Head of the Geography and Informatics Laboratory, and the Center for Planning of Indigenous Territories (CPTI) within the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia (CIDOB).

Housing Description

Students will share rooms in hotels, hostels, and community buildings. Due to the remote nature of the program and limited access to housing, students may be asked to share group rooms with students of all genders (in the application students have the option to request to stay in housing with students of the same gender).
 
Accommodations are modest.