Guatemala - Global citizenship abroad

PHIL 335 and SOC 430 | 6 credits

About the program

This course is led by UBC faculty members Thomas Kemple and Sylvia Berryman

Date: May 9 to June 24, 2022 | Vancouver dates: May 9 to June 1, 2022 | Guatemala dates: June 2 to 24, 2021

Topic: Study the impacts of globalization on a developing country and explore questions about structural oppression (the focus of Phil 335) and the potential for civil society resistance (the focus of Soci 430).

Locations visited: Vancouver campus and locations in the highlands of Guatemala.

Funding: This is an Arts Research Abroad (ARA) funded program. The ARA program aims to ensure that upper-level international research courses are accessible to academically qualified students, and that scholarly preparation and aspiration rather than financial means are the deciding factors for student participation. Funded by a generous gift from donors, the Faculty of Arts, and Go Global, the ARA program sponsors advanced research-intensive courses involving international travel.  70% of the program cost will be offset for academically qualified students; and up to 100% of the cost may be offset for academically qualified students who demonstrate financial need (as determined by Enrolment Services). 

Students can only be considered for one major International Learning Award throughout their degree e.g. ARA (Arts Research Abroad) funded Global Seminars, Undergraduate Research Conference. 

About the course

Philosophy 335 and Sociology 430 begin by together examining classical theories of oppressive power and civil society offered by European theorists struggling to understand the complexities of emerging modern industrial society (De Las Casas, Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx and Mill, Arendt and Marcuse). Our encounter with the colonial experience as narrated from the perspective of the dominated resituates and problematizes this narrative. The impacts of globalization on a developing country highlight new questions about structural oppression and the potential for civil society resistance. More recent theorists of power, oppression and civil society along with indigenous perspectives complement and illuminate the particular instances we encounter in-country of groups confronting gender and ethnic oppression, systemic violence and the oppressive nature of extreme poverty. You will research topics of your choice relating the course themes to the local environment. 

Experience in the field

The joint courses will be taught for three and half weeks (alternating days) on Vancouver campus, followed by three and a half weeks in country. Our first day in-country begins with a high impact visit to two organizations in the nation's capital: a forensic archive accessing the country's recently rediscovered National Police Archives, with records of the civil war atrocities, and a project supporting survival sex workers. Transitioning to a highland town, we spend a one-week immersion in a local initiative that combines Spanish language immersion, family home-stay, cultural orientation and experiential-learning opportunities. Lectures by a local anthropologist on the colonial experience offer an important counter-narrative to the classical European theorists studied in both courses. A further twelve days in-country center on a visit to a coffee cooperative and the indigenous highland village of Nebaj, an important location for the recent civil war, where students gain a perspective on the ravages of globalization as they play out in an impoverished community struggling to retain its cultural identity.  Overnight visits to several other locations rich in history offer insights into other aspects of oppression and civil society organization: a project supporting survival sex-workers; urban extreme poverty among garbage collectors; women's weaving cooperatives; an indigenous 'university'; former guerillas.  

A typical day might include: 

Our days in Guatemala will begin with a simple breakfast, typically eggs, beans and tortillas, followed by some time for you to read and write, hear from a local speaker or take a trip to a nearby site (such as the mayor’s office of a small town, a hike to a cemetery from the civil war, or an archaeology museum), followed by lunch and a philosophy or sociology seminar. After dinner, evenings are free for you to study or explore the town before retiring to basic dorm accommodations.  

Notable environmental conditions 

Guatemala has a temperate climate, 17-22C depending on elevation, and we will be there toward the end of the rainy season.  


Our first week in Guatemala, you will be in homestays with families connected to the Spanish language school.  After that, we’ll have a basic dorm and hostel accommodations. 

Eligibility requirements

  • Be enrolled in UBC Vancouver’s Faculty of Arts.
  • Be in your third, fourth, or final year of study.
  • Be enrolled in at least 24 credits in the Winter Session before the program and be registered in 24 credits in the current Winter Session, or sufficient to graduate.  Please note that students with exceptional circumstances regarding credit loads can identify themselves to Go Global to request an exemption from this requirement.
  • Have a minimum average of 70% with no failed or incomplete courses.
  • Further eligibility requirements particular to each program will be noted below.

Program-specific requirements

  • Upper level standing in philosophy, sociology or related disciplines, some social theory background
  • Strong academic performance
  • Acceptance by Professors

How to apply

Application deadline 

January 27, 2022

  1. Log in to the Gateway online application program 
  2. Select “Search Experiences” and type "GSP" to explore Global Seminars programs 
  3. Upload the application form for your selected Global Seminar – see Application documents below 

*Please note that you can apply for up to a maximum of 2 Global Seminars*

Program fees and costs

ARA funding will offset 70%-100% of the CAD $2,500-$3,000 in program fees and flight costs. 

Students are responsible for covering the cost of 6 credits of UBC tuition.

The final fee depends on the number of students in the program. Students do not pay the Go Global fee when applying to a Global Seminar. The Go Global fee ($415) is built into the Program Fee and is payable upon acceptance to the program. 

Global Seminars refund policy

To withdraw from your program, you must contact Go Global by email to request a withdrawal.  You will not be charged until you officially accept your spot in the program.  Refunds cannot be issued after the program fee is charged to your SSC account. 

In the case of withdrawal, Go Global Award funding must be returned in full.

If you have questions, please connect with your Go Global advisor or email Go Global at

Pre-departure policy

Safety abroad

UBC is committed to preparing students for safe and successful international experiences. In order to achieve this, any student participating in a Go Global Program must complete the following:

Failure to successfully complete these and any other requirements may result in withdrawal from the Go Global Program.


If you are considering applying for a Go Global program and identify with having a disability or pre-existing health condition (mental or physical) which could impact your participation, or if you require academic accommodations, you can contact the following offices and meet with an Accessibility Advisor before the start of the program:

Contact Go Global

You can contact Go Global by email, phone, in-person or virtually through Zoom.

Booking a virtual advising appointment

If you need to book an advising appointment, please complete the online request form. Appointments will be held through Zoom or by phone, and can be scheduled between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm PT from Monday to Friday. 

If you require an appointment outside of these hours, contact Go Global and they will do their best to accommodate. Appointments outside of regular hours can only be accommodated virtually.

In-person drop-in advising hours

Starting Tuesday, Sep 7, Go Global will offer in-person drop-in advising at the UBC Life Building during the times below:

  • Tuesday: 1:00 - 3:00 pm
  • Wednesday: 1:00 - 3:00 pm

Go Global 101: Virtual group advising sessions on Fridays

Sign up to attend a Friday group advising session online and learn more about the programs, talk to an advisor, or meet other students interested in Go Global programs.