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  • Locations: Chiapas, Mexico
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Budget Sheets: Summer
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Area of Study: Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies Minimum GPA Required: 2
Language of Instruction: English Housing Options: Student Housing
Recommended Program: Yes
Program Description:
Global Scholar/Activist Spaces: GSWS in Chiapas, Mexico
gsws 2

Chiapas, Mexico
3-6 transfer credits in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies
4 June –2 July 2017
$3,800 (includes tuition) + airfare. Find full details on the Budget Sheet!
Program Director
Liz Canfield
Registration deadline extended: 17 March 2017
The Global Education Office and the Department of Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, in conjunction with the Mexico Solidarity Network, are pleased to offer a unique opportunity for students to engage in a study abroad experience in Mexico. Students will be enrolled in either 3 graduate or 6 undergraduate credits in Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies and will participate in language acquisition, classroom instruction, and service to the community.
The first 10 students to be accepted into this program will receive a generous $1,000 award towards their program fee from the Department of Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies!
Please note that there is a current US State Department Travel Warning for Mexico.
Course and credit options
  • GSWS 391: Activism in Global Spaces (6 credits, undergraduates only)
  • GSWS 691: Activism in Global Spaces (3 credits, graduates only)
The Education Abroad office will enroll students in a placeholder course upon receipt of the registration. Students will receive transfer credit for all coursework completed in this program.
Course description
GSWS 391/691: Activism in Global Spaces
Students will participate in the following activities, while taking workshops and classes conducted mostly in Spanish (with some English translation):
  • Organic farming, gender dynamics, liberation theology, and indigenous rights (San Cristóbal, Chiapas)
  • Traditional weaving, boot-making, indigenous culture, introduction to autonomous education (Oventic, Chiapas)
Students will also have the opportunity to learn Tzotzil, an indigenous language, if their Spanish is fluent enough for the instruction. If not, students will learn conversational Spanish through their work in Chiapas.
Before departure, students will read/research the history of the region, the Zapatista movement, NAFTA, and US/Mexican politics in terms of how they relate to gender dynamics, political struggle, race/racism, indigenous rights, and feminism. Students will conduct a research/creative project that furthers the immigration rights movement in Richmond upon their return, using what they’ve learned in Chiapas to enhance their own activism at home. In addition, students will collaborate on a media project about their experience in Chiapas.
This course can be taken for 6 credits on the undergraduate level (GSWS 391) or 3 credits on the graduate level (GSWS 691), with the option of adding 3 additional credits doing a service project upon return to Richmond, VA.
Because this is a service-learning course, it is expected for students to be actively engaged in the preparation work before departure, the collaborative learning and work while in Chiapas, and the community activist work upon their return. The combination of service and academic work creates a rigorous experience that attends to intellectual, creative, and community needs. Students who do the 3 additional-credit option will be asked to do an additional or more extensive research-informed community project upon their return to the U.S.
All college-level students in good academic standing and community members are welcome. While there are no official pre-requisites for this course, we prefer that students have a conversational Spanish background. We will provide basic Spanish instruction during orientation during the spring 2017 semester.
An academic letter of reference is not required.
Accommodations and meals
Students will be housed in collective dormitories in San Cristobal and Oventis. Meals are not included in the program fee.
Program director
Liz Canfield, PhD has led study abroad programs to Chiapas, Cuba, India, and Brazil for the last 6 years.  Dr. Canfield is a member of VCU’s Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Department and does academic, creative, and activist work around issues of race, gender, migration, decolonial/postcolonial critique, and sexuality, to name a few.

A valid passport is required to leave the US. If a student does not already have a passport, they are advised to begin the application process as soon as they are accepted into the program. The processing time for new passport applicants can be as long as 8 weeks. For students who already have passports, they will need to verify that the passport’s validity dates extend 6 months past their return date. For more information about passports and the application/renewal process, please consult the State Department's website.
Payment of fees
In order to complete the application, students are required to submit a $250 registration fee and deposit. This $250 registration fee and deposit is refundable in two cases: if the program is cancelled, or if a student is rejected by the faculty member based on their qualifications to participate in the program. Reasons for rejection could include, but are not limited to, GPA, lack of a pre-requisite, unacceptable or inappropriate statement of interest, etc. and are at the discretion of the faculty program director. However, if a student pays the fee and is not given final acceptance to the program based on failing to complete application requirements, as determined by the Education Abroad office or faculty director, the $250 is non-refundable.
Students will receive two separate charges to their student accounts for this program: one charge will reflect the balance of the program fee (minus the $250 deposit and application fee) and the other charge is for VCU tuition costs (based on the number and type of credits being taken by the student). These bills will be charged through VCU Student Accounting and should appear by May 2017.
Please note: While these charges may post to the student’s account simultaneously or separately, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure the account balance is paid before the billing due date.
Withdrawal procedures and financial commitment policy
All withdrawals must be made formally in writing and submitted to the Director of Education Abroad. Otherwise, the program fee will not be refunded. After committing to the program, students deciding to withdraw will be held accountable for a portion of or the entire program fee based on the following schedule:
  • Formal withdrawal submitted later than 30 days before the first day of the program abroad: 100% of the program fee will be charged
  • Formal withdrawal submitted within 30-60 days before the first day of the program abroad: 75% of the program fee will be charged
  • Formal withdrawal submitted within 60-90 days before the first day of the program abroad: 50% of the program fee will be charged
In the event an unexpected emergency occurs within 30 days before the first day of the program abroad, students must provide a physician’s certification that his/her condition prohibits participation. In this case, refunds will be limited to only those funds VCU is able to recover or that have not already been spent on behalf of the student.
See above for refund policy on $250 registration fee and deposit.
Travel health
Students should schedule an appointment with their physician or at a travel clinic (such as VCU Student Health) at least 4 to 8 weeks before the program to inquire about recommended and/or required vaccines/immunizations. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all routine and travel immunizations are up-to-date.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on recommended and required immunizations for travelers. To view the health risks and requirements for the country to which you will be traveling, please visit the CDC's website.
Health Alert: Zika Virus
The CDC has issued a travel alert for countries where the Zika virus is prevalent. Check the CDC’s travel notices regularly as new countries are being added to this list. Check VCU Student Health to stay updated as well.

VCU Student Health offers in-depth pre-travel consultation with a health care provider as well as most of the vaccines recommended for safe travel. Prescriptions for recommended medicines are also available. Please visit their website for full details.


Every effort is made to provide updated and accurate information at the time of publication. The sponsors reserve the right to make necessary changes to the programs and costs. The university reserves the right to revise or alter all fees, regulations pertaining to student fees, and fee collection procedures at any time.

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.