Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

Oaxaca Study Abroad Program 2010


"Social Justice, Labor and the Economy in Mexico"

Pre-departure meetings: May 11, June 4, & June 22 
Oaxaca, Mexico dates: June 28-July 16

Application Process
Frequently Asked Questions



During the A-Term (June 21-July 21) of Summer Quarter 2010, UW Bothell’s Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (IAS) program will offer a course entitled "Social Justice, Labor and the Economy in Mexico." The primary location for the course will be in Oaxaca City, Mexico, which is 280 miles Southeast of Mexico City.

students drawing on the groundA beautiful, craft and culture rich region, Oaxaca became the center of international attention after a 2006 strike by the province’s teachers. The strike precipitated a police crackdown in which the strikers were evicted from the Zocalo (center square). That was followed by a larger uprising which resulted in a seven month-long occupation of the city center by coalition of indigenous and working peoples which took the name of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca  (APPO). Calm has returned, allowing us to use these events as a fulcrum from which to pursue the larger social and economic processes at work in Oaxaca and in Mexico.

The occupation in Oaxaca highlighted ongoing tensions that exist for Mexican citizens and especially for the indigenous peoples who comprise so much of the South. These tensions arise from the uneven economic development and unfulfilled promises of the earlier Mexican revolution. As such, Mexico is a study in contradictions. It is a nation with a progressive and revolutionary tradition, but also one whose leadership has been labeled as corrupt and elitist. It is a nation with a proud and strong union tradition, but one that is also out of step which large segments of the working population.

home in OaxacaPropelled into globalization by former President Carlos Salinas embrace of NAFTA (North Atlantic Free Trade Association), the nation has been buffeted in unpredictable ways by market forces. While Mexico’s maquiladora program has contributed some jobs, for the most part industrialization has stalled, leaving too many peasants reliant upon farm crops that have become increasingly non-competitive under a global trade regime that has dismantled protections and subsidies for local workers and farmers. It is the failure of the local economy that has become the root cause for increasing Mexican immigration to the United States. Thus, our course provides a crucial link towards understanding not only the process of economic development abroad, but also in understanding several key US policy concerns.  We’ll pay special attention to the questions of labor, organization, indigenous peoples and culture, migration, globalization, economic development, and the challenges of neo-liberalism.

Course objectives include:

• Understand the economic context affecting Mexican workers
• Compare Mexican labor institutions to those of the U.S.
• Reconsider America’s relationship to Mexico
• Immerse yourself in Mexico

people in OaxacaThis 5-6 credit course will begin at UW Bothell with two classes during the first week of the term (June 22 & 24 from 5:30-8:30pm - tentative) and will include pre-travel orientation and study to help set the stage and prepare students for class abroad. Once in Mexico, students will be centered at the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca, on the north end of the Central District in Oaxaca City.

Classes in Oaxaca will meet three days a week, with additional field trips. Trips under active consideration include a journey to the Puebla to talk with labor officials and see the Ford Plant, a trip to nearby craft-villages as part of the Investours microfinance program, which will enable students to see and interact with women entrepreneurs in their homes and shops as they struggle to secure an independent living, as well as a possible trip to Mexico City. Classes will be enriched with guest speakers from labor, government, business, and the social movements.

dancers in OaxacaWe are fortunate that the annual Guelaguetza occurs during the final week of class. This immense festival brings indigenous dancers, singers and crafts from the wider region to Oaxaca, and provides an opportunity for students to see first hand how indigenous peoples strive to preserve their culture amidst the forces of modernization.

Spanish is not required, though obviously, it is helpful. Classes will be conducted in English, and translators will be provided for guest speakers. If there is interest, we will work with students to locate service opportunities that allow for greater interactions.


The program takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of social movement and
thus is appropriate for students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Undergraduate and graduate students at all three UW campuses are eligible to participate. Undergraduate students enroll for 6 credits in one of the following course options: BIS 480 (6 cr) or HIST 457 (5 cr) + HIST 399 (1cr).  Graduate students enroll for 5 credits in one of the following courses: BCULST 598 or BPOLST 598.


ruins in OaxacaThe cost of the program (including a room and one meal a day with a Mexican family, plus program overhead) is approximately $2,400 USD. This amount does not include the $250 IPE Fee, airfare, extra meals, or personal expenses. 

Once admitted to the program, students will be expected to apply for a passport and book and pay for their own flights.

Most forms of financial aid can be utilized during participation in the program.  Participants who are on financial aid should contact their campus Financial Aid Office to verify that their awards will apply. For more information about financial aid, read here.  Undergraduate students are eligible to apply for the Global Opportunities (GO!) Scholarship or Fritz Undergraduate Scholarship.  The deadline for summer programs is April 23.  More information may be found here.

The $350 program deposit and $250 IPE Fee are non-refundable.  Any student withdrawing after his/her contract is received will be liable for a set percentage of the program fee, depending on the date of withdrawal.  No part of the program fee is refundable once the program has begun.  Notice of withdrawal from the program must be made in writing to both the IPE Office and the IAS Graduate Office, Attn: Lisa Olason. 

Payment Schedule
Type   Amount Due 
Program Deposit
$350  May 5
Program Fee Payment  $500  May 19
Non-refundable IPE Fee $250 July 9
Program Balance $1550 July 9

Click here for an overall estimate of student expenses.

 Application Process

Final Application Deadline: Monday, April 12

To apply, please contact your academic advisor to determine which of the following course options will count toward your departmental requirements.


  • BIS 480 (6 cr)
  • HIST 457 (5 cr) + HIST 399 (1 cr)


  • BCULST 598 (5 cr)
  • BPOLST 598 (5 cr)

Once you have confirmed an applicable credit option, visit this link for instructions and more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Visit this link to read Frequently Asked Questions

Fast Facts

The application deadline has closed, and the program is full.

15-20 students
Co-Directors: Dr. Dan Jacoby & Lisa Olason

Program Cost:
Approx. $2,400
(Covers program fee, tuition, homestay, and field trips)

Undergraduate: 6 credits
Graduate: 5 credits