Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development

Key Features

Explore the social, cultural, and political means by which Chileans are seeking new ways of representation, communication, and identification.

Students engage in a community work activity with Aymara cultural revival organization in Putre located in the Andean highlands

In the last four decades, Chile has experienced fundamental political, economic, and social changes that have greatly impacted the cultural identity, community fabric, and development model of its society. The democratic socialist experience of the early 1970s and a subsequent 17-year dictatorship with its “free” market policies have been followed by an extended transition period to democracy as Chileans struggle to build a more equitable and inclusive nation. 

Students in this program have the opportunity to:

  • Examine the challenges facing Chile's indigenous peoples from the perspectives of indigenous communities
  • Explore links between international images of a successful economic model with the deep social inequalities expressed in class, gender, and racial discrimination
  • Learn firsthand about local community responses to Chile's socio-economic changes
  • Witness the debate between truth and justice and reconciliation, in the context of the human rights violations during the Pinochet regime 

Community work in Valparaíso
During the program, students engage in a two-day volunteer project with local Valparaíso communities. Students work with an NGO on community-identified projects, such as building a community greenhouse or reclaiming an abandoned neighborhood square and playground for local children. Through these partnerships, students learn about the unique challenges local communities face as well as the various development strategies being utilized. 

Intensive Spanish language instruction
Students can expect to rapidly improve their Spanish on this program. Intensive language instruction in the classroom is enhanced by lectures in Spanish, field activities, excursions, and time with host families.

Local educational and language excursions

The program's three local, field-based excursions—in Valparaíso and nearby Santiago—give students additional opportunities to learn about Chilean cultural identity, social justice movements, and human rights struggles. Highlights include visits to:

  • El Museo de la Memoria in Santiago
  • Villa Grimaldi in Santiago

Visits to a local fishing village and artisan workshops allow students to experience Chilean culture and Valparaíso's enchanting ambience. Many of these visits are combined with testimony from individuals who shed additional light on these vital aspects of Chile's recent history and current realities. Local excursions are conducted in Spanish in order to strengthen oral language use and expand students' vocabulary.

To learn more about local excursion sites, visit:
Museo de la Memoria
Parque por La Paz Villa Grimaldi 

Learn about the program's longer excursions.

Independent Study Project
Students spend the last four weeks of the program focused on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursing original research on a selected topic of interest to them. The ISP is conducted in Valparaíso, Santiago, Temuco, or another approved location appropriate to the project.

Sample topic areas for the ISP include:

  • Memory and political violence
  • Social movements
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Indigenous beliefs and culture
  • Migration and ethnic minorities
  • Youth culture, political parties, and processes
  • Social class and community
  • Youth culture, art, music, and cultural production


Costs Dates



Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Valparaiso

Language Study: Spanish

Prerequisites: 3 semesters Spanish Read more...

Chile

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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