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Program Overview

Dates: 2017 Program dates: January 9 – April 14, 2017

Prerequisite: For CAS track students, two semesters of college Spanish (or equivalent) and instructor permission are required. Students may choose to have a Spanish proficiency test in lieu of language proficiency requirement and will be required to share the results. CALS has no Spanish prerequisite.

Spanish: Students earn UVM credit and develop conversational skills so that they may interact in Spanish with the Oaxacan community.

Who Will Benefit

Students with a variety of interests will benefit from the Oaxaca Semester Abroad program, from those who want to experience immersion in another culture to those who want to study abroad with UVM faculty and earn UVM credit! The program has two tracks designed to help students meet distribution requirements and fulfill the requirements of their major and/or minor. Students will build their resumes with transferable skills, including cross-cultural and field-based research experience.

Family Homestay

Small groups of students (two or three students per group) will live with families in Oaxaca City. Students will get a first-hand view of Mexican culture and a chance to practice their Spanish.

Academic Programs

Courses will enable students to develop a better understanding of the economic, political, cultural, agricultural, historical and artistic forces influencing life today in Mexico. Course instruction is in English except for Spanish language courses. Students will enjoy smaller class sizes with experts and peers.

The Spring 2017  semester abroad proposed course offerings include the following:

  • Music, Identity, and Forms of Cultural Resistance in Oaxaca (3 credits)
  • The Botany of Oaxaca and its Impact on Resource Management (3 credit)
  • Conversational Spanish (3 credits)
  • Oaxaca Foodways: From Pre-Columbian to the Present (3 credits)
  • Global Health and Nutrition in Oaxaca (2 credits)
  • Maximizing the Oaxaca Experience (2 credits)
  • Networks and Communities of Oaxaca (3 credits)
  • Oaxaca Field Study Seminar and Independent Project (2 credits)
  • Agroecological Principles in the Oaxacan Landscape: Past and Present (3 credits)

Sample excursions and field trips planned as part of the coursework include:

  • Colonias, City markets
  • Guelatao
  • Sierra Juarez
  • Santa Maria Yavesia
  • Santa Ana del Valle
  • COVORPA and San Andres Chicahuaxtla
  • Zimatlan, Ixtlan
  • Mexico City

UVM Study Abroad Procedures and Pre-Departure Orientation

Students will follow standard UVM Study Abroad Approval procedures through the Office of International Education.  For more information, please contact UVM Continuing and Distance Education at or 802-656-2085.

Tuition and Fees

Students who are accepted to the program will pay a non-refundable deposit of $500 to reserve their place. In addition to tuition, students will pay a program fee of approximately $6,000 that covers housing, two meals a day and excursions. Students must also pay the comprehensive fee and any other applicable university fees. Airfare is not covered in the program fee. Students will purchase required books before departure.  Please note that the program fee is subject to change.

Regional Setting

Oaxaca provides an ideal setting to learn about the challenges of sustainable livelihoods in a rapidly changing world. It is the most culturally and biologically-diverse of Mexican states with sixteen different languages spoken in addition to Spanish, and environments as varied as desert, pine forest, and tropical rain forest. The indigenous peoples of today are descendants of ancient civilizations that left grand cities like Monte Albán and legacies for humanity like the domestication of corn. A “culture of corn” persists here, characterized by high levels of agricultural biodiversity, a connection to the land, and community traditions.

Development and globalization pose significant challenges to the social and ecological sustainability of the region. Oaxaca is the second-poorest state in Mexico, and has one of the highest rates of emigration to other regions of Mexico and North America. Extractive industries like logging are undermining its distinctive ecosystems and the sustainability of the local communities. The discovery of genetically-modified corn in the Sierra Juarez has placed Oaxaca at the center of a global controversy over the challenges that biotechnology represents for traditional agriculture.

In the midst of these changes, the region has become a site of vigorous indigenous rights activism; the Zapotecs and Mixtecs are experiencing a cultural and political renaissance, and are advocating for control over land, culturally-appropriate education, and community self-determination. These movements, a by-product of globalization, are creating new opportunities for indigenous organizing and assertion.

The long-term consequences of these trends are not yet clear, but many Oaxacan communities are demanding self-determination, respect for local tradition, and sustainable community programs as an alternative to traditional economic development plans.

For information on Oaxaca, visit