The Oaxaca Semester Abroad program provides students with an intriguing and empowering study abroad experience. Over the years, more than 150 students have participated in this innovative program and returned to the University of Vermont rejuvenated and inspired to create change in both their own lives and throughout the world.
Students can select from two course tracks:
These are the course offerings for the 2015 Oaxaca Semester Abroad program and are subject to change.
All students participating in the Oaxaca Semester Abroad program will complete the first portion of the program as one cohort.
Conversational Spanish at Solexico Language and Cultural Center (3 credits)
Professor: Norma Aguilar-Gaytan
All students will participate in a Spanish language course offered at the Solexico Language and Cultural Center in Oaxaca. Upon arrival in Mexico students will have the opportunity to take a placement test to see which level of Spanish will be adequate to meet their needs. Language courses are focused on conversation and immersion in the Mexican culture.
Maximizing the Oaxaca Experience (2 credits)
Professor: Oliver Fröhling, M.A.
This course is designed to facilitate successful navigation of Mexican culture and the Oaxacan community, by reflecting on issues such as cultural assumptions, judgments, reactions to cultural differences, privilege, and other factors related to cross-cultural learning.
Networks and Communities of Oaxaca (3 credits)
Professor: Oliver Fröhling, M.A.
Oaxaca, Mexico has been described in a myriad of ways: as a state with indigenous characteristics, as a primary tourist destination with its quaint colonial capital, as one of the most underdeveloped places in Mexico, as a haven for alternative collective practices, or, since 2006, as the home of Mexico’s next revolution. This course surveys how “Oaxaca” as a place is constructed by multiple agents embedded in multiple networks, exploring the multiple layers and connections of different groups that together make up the place called Oaxaca. As such, we will place emphasis on communities, government agencies and collective actors as agents in controlling and shaping their place through various means of territorial control, within connections and networks created through professional associations, NGOs, social movements, circuits of capital and symbolic circulation. This course will draw on geographical and social theory in order to provide students with the tools to make sense out of complex phenomena. The course will use lectures, field visits, assignments, and interactive techniques in the classroom in order to facilitate learning.
Oaxaca Field Study Seminar and Independent Project (3 credits)
Professor: Jonathan Treat, M.A.
The purpose of the Field Study Seminar is for students to explore a topic of personal interest that will create new learning and understanding of community, culture, and place, the themes of the semester-long study in Oaxaca. Students will identify an area of focus and develop a specific topic, develop a plan that will guide the study, and acquire skills to successfully carry out their study. This is an opportunity for students to take ownership of their learning and focus on their particular interests. Students will publish their work on a public Wiki and present their studies at a student-run seminar. Community partners in Oaxaca will provide consultation, feedback, and resources. Students will meet for weekly seminars as well as individual appointments with the instructor.
Following the completion of the core courses, students will break apart to complete the following tracks:
Arts and Sciences
Anthropology of Music in Oaxaca (3 Credits)
Professor: Sergio Navarette, Ph.D.
Focusing on the concept of music as culture and using a theoretical framework to understand the ways music and society influence each other, this course will give a general overview of Mexican music history, using mapping of folk music to understand the contemporary scene of music practicing in rural and urban Oaxaca.
Botany of Oaxaca (4 Credits)
Professor: Michael Sundue, Ph.D.
At the southern tip of the North American continent, Oaxaca harbors unique botany, whose heritage can be traced across continents. The Botany of Oaxaca course is an opportunity to explore the geography and ecology of these plants as we learn to spot characteristics and identify them, as well as explore the different indigenous perceptions of the forests and their plants.
Tropical Farming and Gardening in Oaxaca (2 credits)
Professor: Vern Grubinger
This two-week course emphasizes field experience to explore food production, marketing, and historical and contemporary factors affecting Oaxaca’s food systems. This course will further explore the role and relevance of different scales of farming, the effect of external forces on local agriculture, and different approaches to improving the food system in Oaxaca. The course will consist of field visits to various sites in and around Oaxaca.
Food, Culture, and Health in Oaxaca (5 credits)
Professors: Teresa Mares, Ph.D., Cynthia Belliveau, Ed.D., and Jean Harvey, Ph.D., R.D.
The first two parts of the course with Professors Teresa Mares and Cynthia Belliveau will explore the intersection of food and culture with a consideration of Oaxacan cuisine, or the ingredients, methods, techniques, and traditions of Oaxaca. Students will investigate how all elements of the food system, from farming to cooking to eating, impact Oaxacan cuisine today and how movement of people and ingredients has impacted the way Oaxacans eat.
The last part of the course with Professor Jean Harvey will examine how the Oaxacan food system influences the health and nutritional status of the people of Oaxaca. Students will further explore the food environment in both rural and urban Oaxaca as a way to understand the nutrition transition in Mexico. Finally, students will compare and contrast food assistance and nutrition interventions in both the U.S. and Mexico that are designed to ameliorate nutrition and health disparities.
Global Health in Oaxaca
Professors: Burton Wilcke, Ph.D. and Oliver Fröhling, M.A.
This course takes a multidisciplinary approach to learning about interrelated Global Health themes in the unique and diverse state of Oaxaca, Mexico. The in-class coursework and field experiences focus on four interconnected public health fields—Infectious Diseases, Nutrition, Built Environments, and Climate Change, with a focus on making links between these topics.
Nutrition and Health in Oaxaca (4 credits)
Professors: Cynthia Belliveau, Ed.D. and Jean Harvey, Ph.D., R.D.
This part of the course will examine how the Oaxacan food system influences the health and nutritional status of the people of Oaxaca. Students will further explore the food environment in both rural and urban Oaxaca as a way to understand the nutrition transition in Mexico. Finally, students will compare and contrast food assistance and nutrition interventions in both the U.S. and Mexico that are designed to ameliorate nutrition and health disparities.