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SIS Abroad

Engaging Global Themes in a Unique Mexican Context

Oaxaca, Mexico

Examine the ways in which the people of Mexico have responded to the economic, political and cultural effects of neoliberal globalization. On this program, you will experience Mexican culture and acquire Spanish language skills as you observe the world through the eyes of local Oaxacan scholars, practitioners and residents.

Oaxaca, Mexico

Faculty Director

Carolyn Gallaher

Program Instructor

Oliver Froehling

Academic Details

The Program will consist of two academic components worth three credits each: a five-week seminar, which will include guest speakers, site visits, and noncredit Spanish instruction; and a three-week field workshop on qualitative human subjects research,during which students will be able to design and carry out research projects. Students may enroll in both the seminar and independent study, or in the seminar only.

Students in the Program will explore a variety of themes and issues related to critical issues facing Oaxaca and Mexico, including:

  • History, Politics, Cultures, and Human Geography of Oaxaca and Mexico
  • Globalization and Traditional Development Policies as Causal Factors in Economic and Cultural Dislocation
  • The Impact of Transnational Migration and Immgration Policy on Oaxacan Communities and Central Americans Migrating Through Oaxaca
  • Civil Society and Political Participation
  • Grassroots and Community Approaches to Constructing Alternative Livelihoods

Site Visits

As part of the core seminar, students travel to places such as Zaachila, San Pablo Etla, and Sierra Norte to engage with the diverse local communities of the Oaxacan state. The seminar culminates in a week-long trip in the Sierra Madre and coastal regions. Students will spend several nights in indigenous communities and meet with indigenous activists and NGOs in the state. The trip will conclude on the coast in the city of Juchitan, which is a center of a thriving, matriarchal Zapotec culture. (Field trip plans may change based on events on the ground.)

The independent research period will include a week-long stay in a village where students will carry out their self-designed research projects.

2012 Program Schedule

Pre-Departure Workshop: April/May (date TBA)

Students arrive in Oaxaca: June 9/10

Seminar-only students depart Oaxaca: July 16

Qualitative methods workshop and independent research: July 16 - August 4

Program Costs

AU tuition plus program fee (details in the program guide).

Who Should Attend

This multi-disciplinary program is designed for graduate students. Graduate students with interests in migration, indigenous rights, human geography, grassroots organization, critiques of traditional development policies, and Latin American area studies are invited to apply. Advanced undergraduates who have completed at least 60 credits toward the completion of their degree are also invited to apply.  


Students are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from Oaxaca. Students will be placed in full homestays for the duration of the Program.

Application and Deadlines

Still accepting applications--apply today!

 As part of the review process, the Faculty Director may invite students to meet with them to discuss the submitted application. Enrollment may be limited to approximately 10 students. Once admitted to the Program by SIS, students receive notification via e-mail. At that time, students will be required to submit a non-refundable deposit of $250 to SIS, through a check or money order made payable to American University, to secure their place in the Program.

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Information Tables

Wednesday, April 7, 11am-3pm, SIS Atrium

Thursday, April 8, 10am-1pm, SIS Atrium

Summer Program Walk-ins

Tuesdays, 12-2pm, SIS 115

Thursdays, 3-5pm, SIS 115


Mexico 2012 Program Guide

Summer 2012 Application

Funding Your Summer Abroad

Information on fundraising

Undergraduate grants and scholarships

Graduate grants and scholarships

Oaxaca in the New York Times