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SIT Bolivia Multiculturalism, Globalization & Social Change

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring


Cochabamba, Bolivia




2.5 GPA. Good academic and disciplinary standing, three recent semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in Spanish, as assessed by SIT.

Application Due:

9/24 for spring semester, 2/24 for fall semester

Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

This program is not being offered by SIT in Fall 2021.


The University of Iowa has affiliated itself with The School for International Training or SIT. SIT was founded on the idea that cultural exchange leads to positive social change. Because of this belief, each of their programs is centered around one of five global issues. This program in Bolivia allows students to explore how concepts of community well-being and cultural identity are being creatively redefined in a country with 36 ethnic groups and the first indigenous president in the Americas.

Academic Program

The key topics of study for this program are Bolivia’s complex history and its current realities. Students study the systems of knowledge and the indigenous “cosmovisión” or worldview. Attention is given to the themes of community well-being or “vivir bien” in Spanish and the concept of resilience. Globalization and Bolivia’s contemporary sociopolitical and environmental struggles are considered.
Students spend roughly the first three months of the program taking four classes for twelve semester hours of credit. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.

Students take the following courses:

  1. Historical and Contemporary Social Change in Boliva
  2. Vivir Bien: Well-Being and Resilience in Andean and Amazonian Communities
  3. Spanish for Social Sciences or Quechua
  4. Research Methods and Ethics
Street in Cochabamba

By the end of the course, students will have chosen a research topic, selected appropriate methods, and written a solid proposal for an Independent Study Project related to the program themes. In addition to taking the above listed courses, students will also enroll in the following course: Independent Study Project. This course is four semester hours.

Independent Study Project

During the final four to six weeks of this program, students will produce a final Independent Study Project (ISP). Conducted at any approved and appropriate location in Bolivia, the ISP offers students the opportunity to conduct field research on a topic of their choice within the program’s thematic parameters. The project integrates learning from the various components of the program and culminates in a final presentation and formal research paper. Students are also welcome to do creative projects along with the research paper with approval from the director.

University of Iowa students who complete an Independent Study Project (ISP) must follow University of Iowa Institutional Review Board (IRB) policies and procedures. For more information on the Iowa IRB process please visit the Undergraduate Research Abroad webpage. An additional pre-departure orientation session, hosted by the Iowa IRB, will be offered on campus to help answer questions and ensure compliance.

Program Dates

Late August to early December for fall semester and early February to late May for spring semester.

Application Deadline

February 24 for fall semester and September 24 for spring semester

For more information

UI student Alex Bare in Bolivia Fall 2016

The SIT web site has a complete description of the program. Before initiating an application with SIT students are required to meet with the Study Abroad Advisor for this program, Kristine Djerf. Please contact the Study Abroad office by stopping by 1111 University Capitol Centre, or calling 319-335-0353, to schedule an appointment.

The City - Cochabamba

Alex Bare

The city of Cochabamba is located in the Cochabamba Valley and is located in central Bolivia. The city is the 4th largest city of the country. The valley and town got their names from the compound of the Quechua words qucha, meaning "lake", and pampa, which is "open plain ". The area has been populated for over a thousand years because of the fertile soils and climate. Cochabamba is known as the city of “eternal spring” and has a population of approximately 630,000 inhabitants. Because of the climate there is extensive agriculture in the area including grains, potatoes, and coffee, along with sugar cane, cocoa beans, tobacco and fruit. Cochabamba is also the industrial hub of Bolivia producing cars, cleaning products, cosmetics, and chemicals.

The Country - Bolivia

Wall Art

Bolivia is one of two landlocked countries in South America. The other country is Paraguay. Through history and archeological finds we know that the area known as Bolivia has had a human presence for over 2,500 years. During its last great expansion, the Incan Empire controlled the western portion of modern day Bolivia. The other parts of the country were inhabited by independent tribes. The Spanish conquistadors arrived to the area known as “Charcas” from Cuzco and Asuncion and took control in the 16th century. Much of the Spanish empire was built on the silver that was extracted from Bolivia’s mines. The country achieved independence from Spain in 1825. Today the country has the first indigenous president, Evo Morales, ever elected in the Americas. Bolivia has the largest proportion of indigenous people in Latin America with approximately 62% of people reporting to be of indigenous decent. There are 36 official indigenous languages in the countries as well as the Spanish language. The largest native groups are the Quechua, Aymara, Guarani and Chiquitano peoples.

Pink Dolphin of the Amazon River
Salt Flats

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

During their time in Bolivia students will have the opportunity to live with three different homestay families, allowing them to compare urban to rural life, and Andean to Amazonian. For six weeks students live with a family in Cochabamba, either in an urban or suburban neighborhood. During the second homestay students will spend three days with Aymara families in a rural farming area on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Students also, experience a two-day rural homestay with an indigenous group in the Bolivian Amazon basin. Other accommodations during the program include private homes, small hotels and hostels.

Local Transportation

The metropolitan area of Cochabamba has an extensive transportation system, which covers all the districts. There is also a service called “T.RU.FI” which stands for “taxi con ruta fija” or “taxi with a fixed route”. There are approximately 60 lines, and they are identified by the signs on the roof of the vehicle. For excursions out of the area, transportation will be provided for students.

Travel Arrangements

Participants will make their own travel arrangements to Cochabamba, Bolivia, taking advantage of any frequent-flyer options and/or internet specials available to them. The cost of travel is not included in the program fee. Information about airport pick up will be given at orientation. Students should book airfare to correspond with the arrival and departure dates given by SIT.



Students must have a 2.5 GPA and be in good academic and disciplinary standing. Furthermore, students must have three recent semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent, previous coursework and/or other significant preparation in social work, political economy, development studies, or Latin American studies, as assessed by SIT.

Good academic and disciplinary standing- Students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing at the University of Iowa. It is the policy of the UI Study Abroad office that all students who study abroad must be in both good academic standing and good disciplinary standing. Students who, even after being accepted into a program, are put on either academic and/or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad. In these cases, students must forfeit their acceptance and will not be allowed to study abroad. Any student who must forfeit their acceptance and/or attendance on a study abroad program due to a probationary status is wholly responsible for any and all financial expenses incurred. See the ‘Withdrawal Policy’ below for more information about the related late withdrawal fees.

Program Costs

Students are charged a Program Fee on their Ubill. This charge covers tuition, all educational excursions, and room & board which includes all meals. In addition to the Program Fee, students are assessed a University of Iowa Study Abroad Administrative Fee. Also on the Ubill will be the mandatory Iowa Regents International CISI insurance. 
Other costs include but are not limited to, application fee, round trip airfare to the program site, passport fees, local transportation, books and supplies, and personal expenses.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options. Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities, and Non-UI External Awards.

SIT has several scholarships available to University of Iowa students. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. Please visit the SIT Scholarship web site to find out more about their scholarships.

SIT automatically gives students from Big Ten institutions a $1,500 scholarship. There is no application necessary, the credit is automatically credited to your account. SIT offers additional awards that can be found on SIT's webpage.

Pell Grant Recipients will have their application fee waived by SIT, are eligible for additional SIT scholarships, and are competitive candidates for the Department of State's Gilman Scholarship. Please talk to your Study Abroad Advisor for more details.

How to Apply

Santa Cruz

Schedule and meet with Kristine Djerf, the Study Abroad Advisor for Latin America. Appointments can be set up in person in 1111 UCC or by phone at 319-335-0353. After discussing the program and its requirements, students can then complete the University of Iowa Study Abroad application . Final admissions decisions to the program are made by SIT.

Application Deadline

February 24 for fall semester and September 24 for spring semester


In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs online “Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation” course distributed through ICON prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions you can email

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific this program and host countries. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.

Before Traveling

Students must complete certain documents and activities for the University of Iowa and SIT before leaving for their study abroad experience and these include:
1. Uploading a copy of the information page of their passport to their UI study abroad application.
2. Completing and turning in a copy of their Credit Approval Form.
3. Registering in MyUI for the appropriate study abroad course.
4. Completing SIT Confirmation materials.
5. Finalizing SIT Pre-departure materials.

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