Chile: Comparative Education and Social Change

Key Features

Discover the political, social, and economic factors shaping educational systems and social change in Chile and Argentina.

SIT Students at La Victoria School

This program introduces students to the complex relationship between society and education and the multifaceted forces that affect educational policies and ideologies in two South American countries. SIT faculty, researchers from Universidad Alberto Hurtado, members of governmental and human rights organizations, and local experts lead students in lectures and seminars while also guiding them in field studies.

Program components
The program consists of three main phases:

  • Five-week homestay in Santiago during which students have lectures and intensive language instruction
  • Three-week period studying educational systems in Temuco, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Four-week period when students complete an Independent Study Project

Each phase of the semester exposes students to different perspectives on education and social change through interactions with a broad range of stakeholders – from students and teachers to policymakers and social activists.

Santiago (program base)
During the first five weeks of the program, students live with host families in Santiago. During this period, students attend lectures, seminars, and field studies by SIT professors and researchers from Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Universidad Arcis, Centro de Estudios Nacionales de Desarrollo Alternativo, and Instituto de Desarrollo Económico.

Topics of study include: education and equity, human rights and indigenous education, popular education and labor unions, social change and social movements, and the impact of globalization on education and schooling.  Read more about the program’s coursework and review program syllabi.

Intensive instruction in Spanish
While in Santiago, students are immersed in Spanish language study through intensive language classes and interactions with host families. Students acclimate to Chilean culture and are introduced to the current social and political issues surrounding education and social change in Chile.

Research and comparative study
During the second phase of the program, students participate in educational excursions throughout Chile and also travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Students live with indigenous families in Temuco to learn about bilingual intercultural education and the conflicting relationships between the Chilean state and the Mapuche community. Students analyze this experience in light of their excursion to Buenos Aires where they examine Argentina’s educational policies firsthand. During each excursion, students visit classrooms, meet with teachers and students, and learn from community and civil society leaders.

Independent study
Students dedicate the final part of the semester to an Independent Study Project (ISP). Students have the opportunity to critically analyze a topic or situation related to the educational and social dynamics in Chilean, Mapuche, or Argentine communities. Students may choose to incorporate a guided practicum experience into the project as well. Students receive guidance from the academic director during the ISP period.

Sample topic areas for the ISP include:

  • Identity issues and intercultural education in rural Mapuche schools
  • Education and cultural identity through children’s arts expressions
  • Structural aspects of education
  • English language practicum in a primary urban or rural school 
  • The Penguin revolution and its effects
  • School reentry in Buenos Aires
  • Ethnicity in child care in marginalized areas of Buenos Aires 
  • Gender roles in schools
  • National identity in students
  • Human rights
  • Popular education and social change


Costs Dates



Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Santiago

Language Study: Spanish

Prerequisites: Coursework in education, Latin American studies, or development studies; 3 semesters college-level Spanish. Read more...

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)


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