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Study Abroad



Social Work in Ecuador

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SAU students in Ecuador

Ecuador intersession students visit El Cajas National Park. Photo by Carissa Rabe, 2011 SAU Alum.

This program is now accepting applications for Winter 2014-15.

Course:  MSW 930 International Social Work and Social Welfare (3 credits)
Instructor: Michael O'Melia, Associate Professor of Social Work
Dates:  December 26, 2014 - January 14, 2015
Primary Location: Cuenca, Ecuador
Price:  $5,100

Program Description

For over a decade, St. Ambrose University and CEDEI have offered a successful short-term program designed to provide serious college students, teachers, and other interested adults with an opportunity to study the language and culture of Latin America. The program includes formal classroom instruction, the opportunity to live with and learn from an Ecuadorian family, and numerous field trips to sites of cultural, geographical, and historical interest.

Course Description

Social work roles and responsibilities extend beyond national boundaries. Social work and social welfare are prominent institutional vehicles through which societies assure quality of life for their citizens. Informed by a value base of human rights and social justice, social work practitioners today require understanding of the international dimensions of the social work profession, awareness of the impact of global interdependence on social work practice, knowledge of the historical and current challenges facing developed and developing worlds, and exposure to a range of global social problems. This elective course is designed for students interested in international social work and cross-national comparisons of social welfare programs and policies.

The Setting: Cuenca, Ecuador

Ecuador lies on the equator along the Pacific coast of South America. It is a country of spectacular geographical and cultural contrasts, tropical coast and beautiful beaches, snow-capped Andean volcanoes, and lush Amazon rain forest. Located high in Ecuador's southern Andes, Cuenca is the third largest city in the country. Nourished by mountain rivers, Cuenca enjoys spring-like temperatures year round.

Because of its tradition of achievement in scholarship and the arts, Cuenca has been called the Athens of the Andes. Today Cuenca is the site of three major universities, several study abroad programs, many museums, and numerous research and cultural organizations.

Cuenca was founded in 1557 on the Inca city of Tomebamba and continues to preserve its Spanish colonial heritage. The many churches dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, the colonial residences, the cobblestone streets, and several nearby artisan villages make Cuenca one of the most charming cities in Ecuador.

With a population of 250,000, the city is large enough to provide health, educational, and recreational services, yet small enough to offer personal hospitality.

Classes and Field Trips

Students attend classes Monday through Friday mornings for three to four hours each day. Attendance is strictly required. In most courses, field trips will supplement class time. In addition to coursework, students are encouraged to participate in cultural and social activities in the community and to take advantage of the extracurricular afternoon events including lectures, videos, and dance classes. The Program includes visits to special sites including the Inca fortress of Ingapirca, El Cajas National Park, the resort town of Baños de Ambato, the Old City of Quito, La Mitad del Mundo, the weaving and crafts centers of Otavalo, San Antonio de Ibarra, and Calderón.

What is Included
  • Course fees
  • Round-trip airfare from Chicago O'Hare (including exit tax)
  • Housing
  • Meals (except when traveling)
  • Field trips and entrance fees
  • Travel assistance
  • International health insurance

What is not included
  • Transportation to/from Chicago O'Hare
  • Passport
  • Fees for textbooks and materials
  • Meals en route and on field trips

How to apply

Application deadline - September 9, 2014
Step 1: Complete the online application.
Step 2: Fill out a Liability Form. Upload the form into your online application or return it to 313 Ambrose Hall.
Step 3: Submit $500 deposit to 313 Ambrose Hall (checks payable to St. Ambrose University).
Step 4: If your application is approved, complete the next steps for accepted students.
Step 5: Approved students will be asked to fill out additional application and housing paperwork for CEDEI.

Payment deadlines and instructions

  • September 9: $500 deposit due
    Turn in your deposit to the Study Abroad Office - 313 Ambrose Hall.
    Deposit checks should be made payable to St. Ambrose University.
  • October 15: $1,000 commitment fee due
    Turn in your second payment to the Study Abroad Office - 313 Ambrose Hall.
    Make checks payable to St. Ambrose University.
  • December 1: remaining balance due
    Turn in your final payment to the Study Abroad Office - 313 Ambrose Hall. 
    Make checks payable to St. Ambrose University or pay online with credit card.
    Credit card users - Indicate that the payment is for the SPRING 2015 term.

Payment details

  • The $500 deposit is refundable ONLY if you are not accepted or if the program is canceled.
  • If you are accepted, all payments are non-refundable after each payment deadline. 
  • The cost for this program will be added to your Spring semester bill.
  • All payments are deducted from the total program cost.
  • Failure to meet payment deadlines may jeopardize your place in the program.
  • Credit card users will incur additional service fees.
  • The final payment is non-refundable after December 1.