Academic Courses of “Development Studies in Latin America: An Interdisciplinary Program”

REQUIRED COURSES

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND SUSTAINABLE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT: A SERVICE-LEARNING COURSE 

Community Engagement and Local Development is a course based on service-learning as a pedagogic methodology that prepares college graduates to be active, informed global citizens. This is a credit bearing educational experience that provides students with the opportunity to participate in community work complemented with reflection spaces that open the possibility of making the proper connections with personal values and course contents: social justice, intercultural understanding, sustainability, global citizenship and civic responsibility.  The community work takes place in the context of local human development processes, mainly in urban Costa Rica.

ELECTIVE COURSES

SUSTAINABILITY PRACTICES AND FOOD SECURITY IN RURAL COSTA RICA

This course, offered by the International Center for Development Studies (ICDS), in conjunction with Finca La Flor –an agro-ecological farm located in Cartago, Costa Rica– provides students in the areas of Environmental and Sustainability Studies with an opportunity for a first-hand practical experience in the field of environment, ecology, and food security in Costa Rica.  The course focuses on water management, forest ecosystems, permaculture, animal husbandry, as well as organic agriculture and food security policies and practices at Finca La Flor. Learn More here!

CURRENT ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES IN LATIN AMERICA

This course enables students to understand the most relevant issues and challenges of sustainability in Latin America. To this end, case studies and examples are used as a base for policy discussion. In addition, a practical approach to the environmental green, blue, gray and brown agendas and cross-cutting critical topics (energy, climate change and land-use systems) constitute the mainstay of the course. The course has been structured under the following three main headings: (a) context, important values and principles; (b) threats and sources of threats; and (c) strategies to improve status.

RURAL AND URBAN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: GLOBAL AND LOCAL PERSPECTIVES

This course focuses on rural and urban development in Latin America. It highlights the most important characteristics of sustainable development and charts the evolution of urban and rural development policies and processes in the region. The course provides analytical tools for the students to understand some of the area’s stories of success and failure in terms of sustainable development and their impacts on the environment and living conditions of local populations in rural and urban areas.

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM AND LOCAL DEVELOPMENT

Sustainable tourism refers to nature-based tourism involving education and understanding of the natural environment and its relationship to local communities, managed so as to be ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable. The course is enriched by Costa Rica’s, as well other Latin American countries’ experience in tourism and ecotourism. The course will be given in a seminar form, and will be complemented by guest speakers, tutorials, and field trips that are designed to provide an overview of ecotourism.

DEVELOPMENT IN LATIN AMERICA FROM A GENDER PERSPECTIVE

The aim of this course is to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the links between gender and development, and to show how equal relations between women and men are both an end and a means of development. The focus is on the implications of gender and development theory for policy and practice, and the need to work on the creation of a more egalitarian society. The analysis is grounded on Latin America but looks into domestic approaches and policies as well as trends in the international arena, fundamental in today’s globalized system.

HUMAN RIGHTS IN LATIN AMERICA: A CRITICAL APPROACH

This course is aimed at providing students with a profound understanding of the essence of Human Rights, both by analyzing their moral and political grounding, as well as the legal mechanisms in place for their protection at domestic and international levels. The relation between human rights and human development is the main focus that guides the progression of the concepts studied. The first part of the course introduces students to the basic concepts of human rights, their philosophical foundations and historical evolution, including the generational approach. The International Bill of Human Rights is reviewed, and the legal and political implications of cultural relativism discussed. In addition, institutionalized mechanisms for human rights protection are studied, starting with national institutions (the Constitutional Court and the Ombudsman’s Office), moving on to the regional mechanisms (Inter-American Human Rights System), and concluding with the international system (that of the United Nations). The second part of the course focuses on some of the main populations in situations of vulnerability: women, children, indigenous peoples, and migrants. The specific human rights of these groups will be reviewed as well as current efforts to provide them with special protection.

DEMOCRACY IN CENTRAL AMERICA: AN ONGOING QUESTION

This course explores Central American politics, human rights, and development, both from a historical and contemporary perspective, with the idea of showing the links between an unstable past and an uncertain future, as well as their effects on democracy. The course is mainly focused on how the historical tendencies in Central American nations have shaped the changing relations between the state, the economy and society in an attempt to understand different challenges to the political order and democracy in Central America. The Central American region has an important historical relation with the United States, thus, one section of the course will examine the political, and economic relations between the United States and Central American countries, including immigration and the war on drug

LITERATURA CENTROAMERICANA (Taught in Spanish)

This course introduces students to Central America’s literature through literary works that are representative of different periods and literary movements in the region. The course presents the main authors of Central American narrative and poetry within a historical-cultural context, as well as provides basic tools for literary analysis.

Short stories, novels, and poetry of great literary quality reflect the relationship of the authors in the different Central American countries to the official and poetic-revolutionary discourse of the 70’s and 80’s. Through the wars in the 80’s and the democratization processes of the 90’s, these writers acquired wonderful maturity and thematic variety on contemporary issues in the region, leading to literary works of a high aesthetic level, philosophical depth, and structural richness.