IDEAS, Guatemala

IDEAS, Guatemala
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Dates, Deadlines, and Costs
TermApp DeadlineStart DateEnd DateCost
SummerFebruary 25mid Juneearly AugustBudget
FallApril 25late Augustlate NovemberBudget
SpringOctober 25mid Januarylate AprilBudget
Program Information
  • GPA
  • 2.75
  • Language of Instruction
  • English, Spanish
  • Foreign Language Requirement
  • Yes
  • Class Eligibility
  • Graduate, Junior, Senior, Sophomore
  • Program Open To
  • UA and Non-UA Students
  • Credit Type
  • UA Direct Credit
  • Level of Study
  • Graduate, Undergraduate
  • Housing Options
  • Homestay
  • Program Type
  • UA Faculty-led
Program Overview

The IDEAS study abroad program in Guatemala is a unique experience that combines rigorous academics with for-credit internships around themes such as development and public health, ethnic relations and human rights, and indigenous and environmental politics. It also includes reflection of current events, top-notch language training for UA credit, and encounters with Guatemalan activists, artists, students and scholars. Learn about the student experience.


Spring 2018 - January 20 - April 28; Summer 2018 - June 10 - August 5; Tentative Fall 208: September 2 - November 24

IDEAS Guatemala is both a summer, semester or year-long program. Students can take a maximum of 12 credits during the summer and 15 credits during the semester. Classes are organized so as to leave Fridays free for travel and Wednesdays free to focus on an internship. Classes are held at El Sitio Cultural Center. Below are just a few different "tracks" students can choose from when studying in Guatemala. 

Academic TrackInternship TrackPublic Health TrackGov and Public Policy (SGPP) Track
  • Internship
    • Summer: 1 unit of LAS 493
    • Semester: 3 units of LAS 493
  • Required Coursework
    • 1 unit of LAS 399
    • 1 unit of LAS 495F
  • Flexible Coursework
    • Summer: 2 classes from UA course list below
    • Semester: 3 classes from UA course list below
  • Total Credits
    • Summer: Max. 12 units
    • Semester: Max. 15 units
  • Internship
    • Summer: 6 units of LAS 493
    • Semester: 6 units of LAS 493
  • Required Coursework
    • 1 unit of LAS 399
    • 1 unit of LAS 495F
  • Flexible Coursework
    • Summer: No additional classes
    • Semester: 2 classes from UA course list below
  • Total Credits
    • Summer: Max. 12 units
    • Semester: Max. 15 units
  • Internship
    • 6 units = 5 units of LAS 493 + 1 unit HPS 493A
  • Required Coursework
    • 1 unit of LAS 399
    • 1 unit of LAS 495F
  • Flexible Coursework (Pick 2)
    • LAS 462 Rethinking Public Health
    • LAS 462: Migrations and Social Change
    • SPAN 330, 425 or or 3 additional units of Internship
  • Total Credits:
    • Semester: Max. 15 units
    • Modified version of the above also available in summer (Max. 12 units)
  • Internship
    • 6 units of POL/PA 493
  • Required Coursework
    • 1 unit of LAS 399
    • 1 unit of LAS 495F
  • Flexible Coursework
    • LAS 462 Migrations and Social Change
    • 1 class from UA course list below (i.e. Spanish or Independent Study)
  • Total Credits:
    • Semester: Max. 15 units
    • Modified version of the above also available in summer (Max. 12 units) 

*All tracks available for Honors credit ranging from 4/8 units in the summer to 6/12 units in the semester.


  • LAS 493: Internship (1-6 credits). Study Abroad students are placed with Guatemalan social organizations in and around the Antigua area according to their interests. You will gain practical experience collaborating with Guatemalan social organizations, but you will also learn critical thinking skills to link your internship with your academic work, reflect on the broader issues of global development politics, and build on this critical experience in your future professional plans. 

Required UA Coursework:
All students on the IDEAS program will take the following two 1 credit courses:

  • LAS 399: Towards a Praxis of the Possible: Thought and Action in Study Abroad in Central America (1 credit). The class will provide you with the tools to weave together the various facets of your study abroad experience.
  • LAS 495F: Colloquium in Latin American Studies (1 credit). A weekly lecture series where students are exposed to nationally and internationally recognized experts in areas such as ethnic relations, contemporary art, historical memory and human rights, the Central American migration crisis, and the significance of democracy in Guatemala and the region.

UA Course Offerings:
Note: All upper division courses (except Spanish) are available for honors or graduate credit.

  • SPAN 330: Intermediate Conversation (3 credits, prerequisite SPAN 323 or 325). For students who wish to improve their oral skills within a dynamic cultural context.
  • SPAN 425: Advanced Grammar and Composition (3 credits, prerequisite SPAN 350). For advanced students who wish to perfect their speaking and writing skills.
  • LAS 462: Special Topics (students can select from multiple below)
    • ​Rethinking Public Health in Guatemala: State, Community and Difference in Theory and Practice (3 credits).This course begins with the premise that attention to the historical-structural limits and emerging alternatives in health care in Guatemala serves as a lens for grasping broader economic, political, social, and cultural issues of development
    • Central American Narratives of Identity and Nationhood (3 credits). This course provides an introduction to Central America’s multicultural reality, specifically Guatemala’s cultural diversity
    • Visual Anthropology (3 credits). Provides tools for field research based on a theoretical framework that will help produce provocative interpretations of Guatemala´s daily reality
    • Migrations and Social Change (3 credits). An introduction to the complexities of migrating dynamics and its consequences on the social fabric of local communities
    • Guatemala: Violence, Memory and Struggle for Human Rights (3 credits).  Introduction to the history of twentieth century Guatemala, centering on the legacies of violence, and the convoluted social and political processes that led to a 36-year armed conflict and ensuing genocide in the 1980s. The class will also explore the transition to democracy and what the “postwar” era has meant in terms of advances in human rights, truth, discussions of memory, and justice for the country and its citizens
  • LAS 499: Independent Study (3 credits). Available upon arrangement. Students work with a designated professor to complete a research project or undertake an in-depth study of an area of interest.


Dr. Elizabeth Oglesby, UA Faculty Director, is an Associate Professor of Geography and Latin American Studies. Liz completed her doctoral research in Guatemala and continues to conduct research there on contemporary development issues, migration and the peace process, among other topics. 

Dr. Ricardo Lima a Guatemalan anthropologist, professor and former head of the School of Humanities at Universidad Rafael Landívar in Gautemala City. Researched and written extensively on subaltern politics, interculturality and bilingual education. 

Professor Rubén Nájera is a Guatemalan playwright, essayist and poet who presently teaches the History, Ideas and Praxis reflection course. 

Juan Carlos Verdugo is a Guatemalan medical doctor with extensive experience in public health policies and founder of the Institute for Inclusive Health based in rural Guatemala. 

Jen Casolo is a geographer who research focuses on the limits and possibilities of grassroots movements for social change. 

Gustavo Palma is an international academic, geographer and historian, specializing in Guatemalan history. He studied geography and history at universities in Latin America and Europe, and has gone on to be a professor and investigator at institutions around the globe.


To call Antigua, Guatemala a "picturesque" city would be an understatement.  Imagine cobblestone streets lined with brightly-colored colonial buildings, bougainvillea flowers spilling over the walls, with a panoramic view of volcanic mountains surrounding the city. Classes are held in the El Sitio Cultural Center in this stunningly beautiful World Heritage town.

Located 45 minutes from Guatemala City, Antigua is one of the most popular sites in Central America. Antigua is also one of the most important cultural centers in Central America and a vibrant cosmopolitan city, enriched with the presence of many international visitors.

Field trips, included in the price of the program and led by internationally recognized experts from the region will enable you to see for yourself how Guatemalans from different walks of life live and work amidst cultural, social, environmental, and political challenges. You’ll experience first hand the realities that define life in the country today. On your own time you won’t want to pass up the opportunity to explore the city’s jazz bars, artisan markets and coffee shops or the archeological ruins, hot springs and black sand beaches of the countryside. 


Students stay with host families in Antigua. This provides students with maximum exposure to Guatemalan culture, including total immersion in the Spanish language. The families provide three meals a day Monday through Saturday. There is limited housing available for those students wishing to have a private bathroom at an additional fee. Although host families have been carefully selected, and are used to housing students from the United States and elsewhere, one must remember that a willingness to adapt to, and be respectful of, local customs and traditions is both necessary and expected.

While under special circumstances alternative housing can be arranged, students are strongly encouraged to live with host families, as this provides an opportunity to interact with Guatemalan culture while at the same time improving one's Spanish language skills.

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