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.


TENTATIVE 2019 Dates (Reminder- DO NOT buy airline tickets until instructed to do so by your study abroad coordinator):

Spring: January 27 - April 27; Summer: June 9 - August 4;  Fall: September 1 - November 23

IDEAS Guatemala is 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: 1 unit of LAS 493
  • Required Coursework
    • 2 units 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
    • 2 units 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
    • 2 units 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
    • 2 units 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 course:

  • LAS 495F: Colloquium in Latin American Studies (2 credits). A 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. The class will provide you with the tools to weave together the various facets of your study abroad experience.

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 323 or 325). For advanced students who wish to perfect their speaking and writing skills.
  • LAS 462: Special Topics (students can select from multiple below)
    • 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
    • Visualizing Biopolitics: Migrations (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.

Internship Opportunities

Study Abroad students are placed with Guatemalan social organizations in and around the Antigua area according to their interests. The IDEAS internship program is not solely "volunteer tourism," you will gain practical experience collaborating with Guatemalan social organizations, and 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. Below is a partial list of internships (please note, availability may vary):

1.      Hermano Pedro’s Hospital: A hospital for children and adults with special needs and/or physical challenges which also provides treatment to malnourished children. The hospital is managed by Franciscan friars. It is a place unlike any other - a multi-service facility providing a home, and care for the elderly and orphaned, the mentally challenged and chronically ill. The hospital offers a school for children with disabilities and a nutrition center where malnourished infants and children are treated. 

2.      Public Health Center: Located in Antigua Guatemala and covering an average population of 10,000 inhabitants. The areas of interest offered include promotion, prevention, treatment and recovery, and are addressed to people and the environment with an emphasis on priority programs. The students may work supervised by nurses and assisting doctors in healthcare services for the population of Antigua, Guatemala and surrounding towns.

3.      Auxiliary Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman: This office has the function of protecting individual rights, social, civic, cultural and political life, freedom, justice, peace, dignity and equality of human beings, as well as those defined in international treaties or conventions accepted and ratified by Guatemala on behalf of the Human Rights Ombudsman.

4.      CIRMA: the Center for Regional Research in Mesoamerica (CIRMA) is a nonprofit Guatemalan Foundation. With more than 35 years, it has been recognized internationally for their continued interest in the Rescue and Conservation of Historical, visual and documentary heritage of the Mesoamerican region, with emphasis on Guatemala. The students may work in the conservation of photographic archives or historical archives.

5.      Caoba Farm: Located just outside of the city of Antigua, Caoba Farm focuses on organic food production, works with communities and NGOs, and promotes low environmental impact, biodiversity, sustainability and creativity. The students learn from local organic farmers about our organic crops, and walk around our plantations.

6.      Los Patojos - Dreams and Ideas in Action: a non-profit organization created by young Guatemalans for the aid and benefit of the youth of Jocotenango. Local children between the ages of five and eighteen are being motivated to better their lives through radical education. The school program works with at-risk children in Antigua where they have their own clinic.  (in this internship you must pay a fee of $ 50.00 to support the organization). Los Patojos was recently featured on CNN.

Links of Interest

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