Latin American Studies
This semester program based in San José, Costa Rica, is offered through the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. In addition to the standard program of language and seminars (both semesters), the Latin American Studies Program (LAS) offers four concentrations: Advanced Language and Literature (offered both semesters); Environmental Science and Sustainable Development (offered spring semester); International Business: Management and Marketing (offered fall semester); and Latin American Studies (offered both semesters). All students study the Spanish language and become immersed in the rich culture and history of the Latin American people. Students reside in the homes of Costa Rican families, engage in service projects, and travel within Central America.
Students select a concentration area in either Advanced Language and Literature, Environmental Science and Sustainable Development, International Business: Management and Marketing, or Latin American Studies.
Advanced Language and Literature Concentration
This concentration focuses on the social, cultural, political, economic and religious issues of Latin America in the target language. Students examine how Latin Americans view their neighbors to the north and around the world through conversations, conferences and related literature. This concentration is designed to: (1) expand students’ Spanish language skills through a seminar taught exclusively in Spanish, a practicum with a Latin American organization, and the daily use of Spanish while living with a Costa Rican host family; (2) examine Latin America through its literature, using it as a means to examine society and culture; (3) meet and interact with prominent literary figures in the region; (4) take part in work/service opportunities; and (5) attend local theatrical and film productions.
Environmental Science and Sustainable Development Concentration
Participants in this concentration explore the natural sciences in a tropical setting and study their influence on the process of sustainability. Students are immersed in a variety of ecosystems: dry forests, lowland rain forests, mountain cloud forests, volcanic regions and beautiful reefs. Costa Rica serves as a natural laboratory. Students of the Environmental Science Concentration will: (1) aid in longitudinal research projects ranging from ecology to ecotourism; (2) examine sustainable development and management of Costa Rica’s protected natural areas; (3) investigate the general ecology of several tropical biomes, including highland cloud forests, mangrove forests, coral reefs, lowland rain forests and dry forests; and (4) study from the perspective of an informed Christian steward of the Creation.
International Business: Management and Marketing Concentration
Business concentration students spend an intense five weeks addressing the fundamentals and application of international business. Business concentration students are exposed firsthand to the political, social and economic realities of Latin America and must constantly answer the question: “What should the role of Christians be in the face of these realities?” Throughout this concentration, students will: (1) meet Latin American business and government leaders; (2) visit plantations, cooperatives, maquilas, and the Bolsa de Valores [the Costa Rican stock exchange]; and (3) participate in a hands-on case study project.
Latin American Studies Concentration
This concentration is interdisciplinary by design. Students are challenged in a seminar that includes diverse perspectives, broad readings and group presentations that respond to scenarios drawn from the contemporary scene. Participants also gain valuable first-hand experiences in related service opportunities. In recent semesters, these have been organized in neighboring countries throughout Latin America. Entitled “Uniting Faith and Practice in Latin America,” the concentration is designed to: (1) introduce students to several perspectives on faith and practice in the context of Latin America; (2) consider the historical development and current character of multiple religious perspectives in Latin America [Protestant, Catholic, Maya, etc.] and the major issues the Christian church now confronts, including liberation theologies; (3) help students gain an understanding of the approaches to Third World development and the associated policies, especially those of para-church agencies; and (4) challenge students to reflect biblically on the above-mentioned faith perspectives and development theories in order to more fully develop their own Christian approaches to the dilemmas of Latin America. Course content is adapted to changes in Latin American society.