BCA’s Signature Courses focus student learning on cross-cultural awareness and trans-disciplinary study through traditional classroom learning and in-field experiences. Much of this learning incorporates meaningful and direct contact with local people whose lives are entwined with and affected by the issues we examine. Enrollment in a Signature Course is required for all students.

Ecuador: Language and Culture

(4 credits, offered in fall term)

Pre-Semester Orientation:

12 contact hours (includes presentations on health, safety, living in host families). Details related to host university, orientation to the city of Quito, including a briefing on transportation to and from the university and a session on “How to Fulfill Your Objectives.”

Language:

2.5 hours of Spanish instruction each day – approximately 17 total days. According to the results of a USFQ-issued exam the full group is divided into subgroups which are more or less homogeneous to their language levels.

Culture:

1 hour each day for approximately 17 days. The BCA-Director and guest lecturers lead numerous sessions in Spanish covering topics on Ecuadorian society and culture. Sessions are either lectures or group activities designed to enrich a previous lecture. Spanish professors reflect on the content of each Culture session during the following Spanish class, engaging the students in dialogue about the subject material. While session topics can change each semester, common subjects are listed below.

Visits Outside Regular Class Hours:

Three cultural site visits are organized outside of regular class hours (anthropology museum, art museum and indigenous ruins) These visits include a guided tour in Spanish. Approximately 6 hours.

Topics Covered in Culture Component:

  • Introduction to Ecuador – Physical, Geography, Ethnology, Economic and Political Geography, Social Situation of Ecuador.
  • History of Ecuador
  • Economic History of Ecuador
  • Indigenous Cultures and Cosmovision in Ecuador
  • Indigenous Political Movement in Ecuador
  • Gender Issues in Ecuador
  • Minorities and Power Structures in Ecuador
  • The Current Political Situation in Ecuador
  • Ecuador – US Relations and Ecuador’s Place in a Globalized World
  • Issues of Identity in Ecuador
  • Environmental Justice in Ecuador

In addition, twice a week, the BCA Director leads afternoon sessions covering advising for the regular academic semester, possible volunteer activities, campus activities, etc. and to process cultural adaptation to their new environment.

Ecuador: Culture and Justice

(1 credit, offered in spring term)

Pre-Semester Orientation:

12 contact hours (includes presentations on health, safety, living in host families, Details related to host university, orientation to Quito, including how to get to the university, oral interviews conducted in Spanish, a written Spanish placement exam, and a session on “How to Fulfill Your Objectives.”

Mandatory Sessions:

Three mandatory whole-group sessions: one at the beginning, one in the middle and one at the end of the semester, each with 2.5 hours of contact hours.

Small Group Sessions:

Each student is also required to participate in 3 small group sessions; small group sessions are offered approximately twice a month and include 2 hours of contact hours.

Visits Outside Regular Class Hours:

Students are required to visit one cultural site (anthropology museum, art museum and indigenous ruins visits are organized throughout the semester). These visits include a guided Spanish tour and at least 2 hours.

Mandatory Sessions Include:

  • Introduction to Ecuador – Physical, Geography, Ethnology, Economic and Political Geography, Social Situation of Ecuador.
  • History of Ecuador
  • Cultural Identity in Ecuador

Small group sessions: Students are encouraged to propose small group session topics based on personal and group interests. A schedule of sessions will be compiled by the 2nd week of class.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • History’s Effect on Present
  • Cultural Identity in Ecuador, Preserving Cultural Heritage, Mestizaje (The mix of Spanish and Indigenous influences)
  • Indigenous Issues
  • Andean Spirituality, Indigenous Politics and Revolution, Commoditizing Culture in Ecuador
  • Politics and Economy
  • The People’s Revolution in Ecuador (current political movement), Ecuador – US Relations; World Food Crises and the Developing World; Minority Politics; Transitional Economies
  • Globalization
  • International Conflict (Ecuador and Latin America Focus); Big Business in Ecuador; Modernization versus Traditional Practices;
  • Environmental
  • Oil and the Amazon; Water Politics in Ecuador; Destruction of the Environment as a Response to Poverty
  • Culture
  • Ecuadorian Gastronomy; Artistic Expression in Ecuador