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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Guatemala City, Guatemala
  • Program Terms: January Term
  • Program Cost: January Term
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Language of Instruction: English Click here for a definition of this term Minimum GPA: 2.0
Subject Areas: History, Theology Housing Options: Hotel
Service Learning: Yes Program Sponsor: UST
Program Description:


The Church in Latin America in Guatemala
JT15-THEO 455

Program Highlights
  • Incorporating the philosophy and dynamics of UST’s VISION program, this course will include a service-learning component in the scenic highlands of Guatemala, along with classroom work and intercultural, interactive learning in and around the San Lucas Tolimán community
  • Students will learn from and interact with Mayan leaders about ancient and contemporary Mayan culture
  • Excursions include visiting a functioning coffee producer, spending time with Mayan women who have organized to produce textiles and other goods collectively, and visiting the Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (dedicated to preserving ancient seeds and plants and disseminating information about sustainable farming)
  • Course will be taught by professors with decades of experience working and teaching in Latin America
  • Prerequisites: One 100 level theology course. Students interested in history credit need to have had one 100 level history course. 
  • Fulfills: Under the new curriculum, fulfills 2nd Theology core requirement; under the old curriculum fulfills the 3rd Theology core requirement; fulfills requirements for the LACS minor. With approval of Dr. Zimmerman this course can fulfill upper division requirement for a History Major or Minor 
Course Description
Focusing on the role of the Church in Guatemala, students will travel to the Guatemalan highlands and learn first-hand about the nation's place in the global economy, its peace process, politics, and post-pandemic society. Students will study the politics, history, culture, and economy of Guatemala in order to join with Latin Americans in reflecting theologically about the meaning of the gospel in their historical context. Key elements of that context include centuries of cultural repression of Guatemala's Mayan Indians, class divisions resulting from a quasi-feudal social structure, and the divisions resulting from over 30 years of civil war. Practical service activities will be combined with academic study. The class will also follow the VISION Program's six-point philosophy as the framework for a service-learning approach.

Program Structure
While on location in Guatemala, our base will be in the highlands at the San Lucas Tolimán Catholic mission, on scenic Lake Atitlán. Practical service activities will be combined with traditional coursework, featured speakers and field trips in order to bring students into close contact with the local community and to enhance the learning goals of the course. Service activities include light construction, coffee picking, reforestation and childcare. Spanish is desirable but not necessary. The class will also follow the VISION Program’s six-point philosophy and will include evening reflections. Travel sites include Santiago Atitlán, Chichicastenango, Antigua and an introductory day tour in Guatemala City.

Research Projects:
5%         Preliminary research assignments (on campus and in Guatemala)
25%      Individual oral report on research (ca. 20 minutes, with outline handed in afterward)
10%      Group grade for the “value added” of coordination and cross-referencing
10%      Annotated bibliography
Class Participation:
20%      Two reading presentations, one major (20-30 min), one minor (15-20 min)
15%      General class participation
Service Learning:
15%      Final integrative reflection paper
Required but not graded:
  • Conscientious participation in field work (work activities, field trips, etc.). Service-learning work opportunities may include the following: construction, coffee picking and sorting, childcare, accompanying medical personal on village visits, reforestation project, ecology center.
  • Good faith efforts at cross-cultural sensitivity (i.e., even though you will only have time to begin the process of understanding the host culture, you are expected to demonstrate a willingness to learn how to conduct oneself as a gracious guest in someone else’s cultural home).
  • Participation in evening reflections and other VISION-related meetings.
Locations and Tentative Dates
January 3                         Class held on campus at UST
January 4                         Travel to Guatemala 
January 5-24                    Community Engaged Course Work in San Lucas Tolimán with day trips to Santiago Atitlán and Chichicastenango.
January 25                       Return to Twin Cities            

Housing and Meals
Our host in Guatemala, the San Lucas Mission, has arrangements with several local guesthouses within walking distance of the mission. All meals will be taken in the mission's dining hall.
Click on the Program Cost link above for detailed cost information.
Total cost includes: tuition, transportation and course arrangements as indicated, hotel accommodations and some meals.

Application Procedures & Deadline
  • Select the Apply Now button at the top to start your online application.
  • Log in using your St. Thomas username and password.
  • Complete all application materials by the application deadline. Students are encouraged to apply during the priority enrollment period, April 1-10. Applications will be accepted after April 10 for programs with space still remaining until the final application deadline of October 1.
  • Download and read Short-Term Off-Campus Policies and Procedures.  You are responsible for reading, understanding and abiding by its content.
Priority Application Deadline: April 10, 2022
Final Application Deadline: October 1, 2022
Financial Aid/Scholarships
Students studying abroad during J-Term are generally only eligible for additional loans to help finance their study abroad costs. Please review Financial Aid for Study Abroad. Scholarships may also be available from St. Thomas and some Other Approved Programs. Please refer to our Scholarships webpage for details and review Short-Term Off-Campus Policies and Procedures for additional financial aid information.

For more information
On course content, contact
Prof. Deb Organ (
Prof. Kari Zimmerman (

On application procedures or logistical information, contact:
Office of Study Abroad | University of St. Thomas
Murray-Herrick 212 | 651.962.6450 | |

This program is currently not accepting applications.