Oaxaca, Mexico, is an ancestral home of maize (corn) and is at the leading edge of the struggle over the future of the global food system. It is also home to sixteen indigenous groups and an active area of civil discourse and resistance to state oppression. One of the three poorest states in Mexico, it also suffers from enormous rates of migration to northern Mexico and the US as people search for work and better lives for their families. A beautiful and complex physical and social landscape, it is a perfect site to explore issues of how American foreign policy (agriculture, trade, immigration, drug) impacts the Global South.
We will be working with a small local partner school, Centro Ollin Tlahtoalli, to examine on the ground the issues in Oaxaca surrounding food, democracy and social justice, and immigration. We will be exposed to limited language and extensive cultural education in applied fashion: mostly out in the region, visiting villages, markets, and the countryside. We will see how the paths of immigrants are changing and how they affect Oaxaca and the people there. We will learn how the debate around appropriate technology and genetically modified organisms takes shape in communities with thousands of years of subsistence agricultural history. Students will see firsthand, and discuss with locals and as a group, the complicated web of interconnected issues that make up contemporary food studies, particularly as they relate to Mexico and the United States.
The class will be staying in homestays with local families, likely two students per house, in the center of Oaxaca. Field trips include Mexico City (where the program begins), small towns around the Oaxaca region, Puerto Escondido and its lovely beaches, and project partner communities in two regional mountain communities. Ollin Tlahtoalli, our partner school, has years of experience in cultural preservation and education, and we will be able to visit the Zapotec villages in which their youth programs operate.
- URBDP 498/598A or CHID 472A: Food Sovereignty and Food Systems in Oaxaca, Mexico (5 Credits)
- URBDP 498/598B or CHID 472B: Migration and Community Development in Oaxaca, Mexico (5 Credits)
- URBDP 498/598C or CHID 470: General Orientation to Mexico (2 Credits)
*Note that the fees stated above do not include some additional costs, including, but not limited to: airfare, Study Abroad Insurance ($2/day), and personal spending money. Remember that these costs will differ by program. Be sure to read our Fees, Financing, and Withdrawal information for details about the fee structure and payment schedule.