Mexico: Crossing Borders

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 Fall Semester: Mid-August through Early December

In this experiential, community-based program students will cross borders constructed by language, nationality, race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socio-economic class, religion, politics, and economics. Students are immersed in various Mexican realities by meeting directly with people of diverse backgrounds, gaining essential skills for future academic and professional pursuits. Earn credit in Religion, Political Science, Business, Women’s Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Spanish. The semester includes small group intensive Spanish study provided by Mexican instructors. Fieldwork opportunities (including both internships and independent research) are also available.

Location

Mexico is more than a spring break destination; it takes center stage in debates about globalization, U.S. immigration policy, and sustainable economic development.

The program is based in Cuernavaca, a city known for its perennial springtime (70-80 degrees). Cuernavaca, the capital of the state of Morelos, is about a 1 1/2 hours drive south of Mexico City. Both the city and the state are important in Mexican history: the palace of the conqueror Hernan Cortez borders the central plaza in Cuernavaca and Morelos is known as “the cradle of the Mexican revolution” of 1910 led by Emiliano Zapata, who was born in a small town near Cuernavaca. A city of more than one million, Cuernavaca is also known for its innovative grass-roots education programs, economic cooperatives, and base Christian communities inspired by liberation theology.

Student Life in Mexico

The CGE campus in Mexico is a 15-minute walk from downtown Cuernavaca and the main city plaza, in the neighborhood of San Antón. CGE is well established in San Antón and has many friends and close connections in the neighborhood, including some of the homestay families. CGE is located at the top of one of the large ravines that runs through the city, offering a dramatic view from the nearby bridge that leads to downtown. Because of the ravine, there is a 100 foot waterfall right in the neighborhood, a local eco-tourist attraction.

Right across the bridge, students will find a large public garden/park, an independent movie theater, the Cathedral, and several popular cafés. CGE-Mexico’s campus includes two houses across the street from each other with ample living and study space for students, a library, computer labs and wireless internet, kitchen and dining areas, and outdoor patios and gardens. The Universal language school, where students take Spanish courses, conveniently is located right up the street and has a swimming pool and racquetball court.

Learn About

  • Mexican history and culture, gender roles and sexuality, human rights, immigration, intercultural communication, Indigenous cosmovision, international business, and U.S.-Mexico relations
  • Peace, justice, corporate responsibility, sustainability, and social change throughout Mexico

Course Offerings

Although students may mix and match three or four courses from any discipline, concentrations are offered in four fields: Spanish, women’s studies, religion and business. A Mexican Art course taken in either English or Spanish and a non-credit Latin Dance course are available to all students.  Be sure to check out the course syllabi.

Spanish Concentration

Mexico has the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, and the majority of Spanish speakers in the U.S. speak Mexican Spanish.  Students can select multiple courses from 18 Spanish classes available.

Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Concentration

Explore transitional and postcolonial feminisms by engaging in direct conversations with Mexicans from diverse backgrounds. The program merges feminist theories with the voices of grassroots activists:

  • Latin American Liberation Theologies (Women’s Studies/Religion 366)
  • Women, Gender, and Social Change in Latin America (Women’s Studies/Political Science 359)
  • Contemporary Latin American Women: Texts and Voices (Women’s Studies/Spanish 335); taught only in Spanish
  • Internship or Independent Research (Women’s Studies 399/499)

Religion Concentration

Explore the legacy of indigenous spiritualities, the complexity of Christianity, and views of the small populations of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus. Latin American liberation theologies are strong in Cuernavaca, and feminist, queer, and postcolonial liberation theologians are growing.

  • Christian Vocation and the Search for Meaning II (Religion 200)
  • Latin American Liberation Theologies (Religion/Women’s Studies 324)
  • Spanish for Ministry (Spanish 224); taught in Spanish
  • Internship or Independent Research (Religion 399/499)

Other Courses

  • Environmental Biology (Biology 118)
  • Pre-Columbian, Colonial, and Contemporary Mexican Art (Art 231)
  • Non-credit physical education course in Latin dance
  • Internship or independent research in environmental studies, history, interdisciplinary studies, language and cross-cultural studies, political science, or youth and family ministry (in addition to internships already listed within each concentration)

Engaging Conversations

  • Academics and other leaders from a broad cross-section of society, including Indigenous, Mestiza, and Afro-Mexican people and the economically poor ; artists, businesswomen involved in fair trade, environmentalists, feminists, government officials, human rights activists, Indigenous healers, representatives of a worker-owned company, and U.S. Embassy officials
  • Activists in the Mexican Movement for Peace, Justice, and Dignity
  • Feminist, queer, and postcolonial liberation theologians, pastors, priests, and nuns; members of minority religious groups in Mexico
  • Members of the LGBTQIA community, including some of the first gay and lesbian couples to marry in Mexico

Housing and Homestays

Two houses in Cuernavaca serve as a home base for most students. Four- to six- week homestays are an integral part of the academic program. Longer homestays are available upon request, as are lesbian- and gay-friendly homestays.

Regional Travel

  • A short seminar with homestays in a rural village where students learn about Nahua Indigenous spirituality, ecology, gender roles, business, and immigration issues
  • A short seminar in Mexico City where students meet with government representatives, elected officials, business leaders, feminists, religious leaders, and prominent members of grassroots organizations
  • Weekend excursions to locations such as the Monarch butterfly sanctuary, Oaxaca, Puebla, Taxco, Teotihuacan, Toluca, and the Nevado de Toluca volcano

Blogs and Videos

Take a look at the CGE-Mexico Field Blog for a ton of great day-to-day highlights from Mexico study abroad.

Internships are a popular element of this program. Listen to what four students have to say about their study abroad internship experiences in this video. Be sure to check out our You Tube Channel for more videos – including a campus and town tour!

Prerequisites

One college-level Spanish class or the equivalent is recommended, but not required.  Only Spanish courses are taught in Spanish; all other classes are offered in English.

Supporting a Diverse Community of Co-learners

The Center for Global Education strives to create for its participants an intentionally diverse community of co-learners where a variety of cultures and backgrounds is represented.

If you have additional questions about issues of diversity, multiculturalism, or oppression in regards to the site to which you will travel, please let us know during the enrollment process.

Deadline

Applications are accepted on a rolling admissions basis with a final deadline of April 1.