Seminar & Field Program

Seminar & Field Program 2020

Program Overview

The Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) Seminar and Field Program celebrates its 47th year in 2020 of providing more than 550 students a unique educational and cross-cultural immersion experience since its founding in 1972.

This intensive, two-part program incorporates a cross-cultural homestay with individualized field study. The program is open to undergraduates of any major at the University of Pittsburgh and welcomes applicants from any field with sufficient Spanish language proficiency and an interest in Latin American culture. The 10 to 15 students selected for each of these programs will enroll in a preparatory seminar on campus during the spring of 2020, and then travel to country of the program they were selected where they will study, live with a host family and carry out an independent field project.

This is the first year that CLAS will have two study abroad opportunities:

The Destination

Seminar & Field Trip, Ribeirão Preto – Brazil: This program will go to the interior of the state of São Paulo. Ribeirão Preto is the eighth largest municipality in the state at 650.9 Square Kilometers, with an estimated population of around 650,000 in 2018 and a metropolitan area of with over a million in population. Situated a few hours from the mega metropolis of São Paulo City.

Ribeirão Preto originated around 1856 as an agricultural region. Coffee was a primary source of income until 1929, when it lost value compared with the industrial sector. In the second half of the 20th century, investment in areas such as health, biotechnology, bioenergy and information technology led to the city being declared a Technological Center in 2010. These activities have caused the city to have the 30th biggest gross national (GNP) in Brazil.

The city is also an important cultural center. The Prefeito Luiz Roberto Jábali Park, the Maurilio Biagi Park, Carlos Raya Park, Santa Tereza Reserve and the Zoo are important preservation areas. Pinguim Beer house, Dom Pedro Theatre and projects such as Ribeirão Preto's Cinema Center are relevant sightseeing points, along with events such as the Agrishow Agricultural Fair, Tanabata Festival, Joao Rock Music Festival and the National Outdoor Book Fair.

Seminar & Field Trip, Valparaíso – Chile: Valparaíso is a major city, seaport, and educational center in the commune of Valparaíso, Chile. The "Greater Valparaíso" is the third largest metropolitan area in the country. Valparaíso is located northwest of Santiago. Located in Chile's second most populated administrative region and has been the headquarters for the Chilean National Congress since 1990.

Valparaíso played an important geopolitical role in the second half of the 19th century, when the city served as a major stopover for ships traveling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by crossing the Straits of Magellan. Valparaíso mushroomed during its golden age, as a magnet for European immigrants, when the city was known by international sailors as "Little San Francisco" and "The Jewel of the Pacific".In 2003, the historic quarter of Valparaíso was declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site.

The second half of the twentieth century was unfavorable to Valparaíso, as many wealthy families abandoned the city. The opening of the Panama Canal and reduction in ship traffic dealt a serious blow to Valparaíso's port-based economy. Over the first 15 years of the twenty-first century the city reached a recovery, attracting artists and cultural entrepreneurs who have set up in the city's hillside historic districts. Today, many thousands of tourists visit Valparaíso from around the world to enjoy the city's labyrinth of cobbled alleys and colorful buildings. The port of Valparaíso continues to be a major distribution center for container traffic, copper, and fruit exports. Valparaíso also receives growing attention from cruise ships that visit during the South American summer. Most significantly, Valparaíso has transformed itself into a major educational center with four large traditional universities and several large vocational colleges. The city exemplifies Chilean culture, with festivals every year, and street artists and musicians.


Spring Term Seminar, ARTSC 1990 (3 credits)
This interdisciplinary seminar is designed to prepare students for their in-country residence experience. Students will examine the history, culture, politics and geography of Manizales and Colombia and their place within Latin American. Issues dealing with cross-cultural communication and the challenges and rewards of the international living experience will be examined. Students will also be guided through the design of individual field projects that they will carry out during their residence experience in May and June.

Summer Session Field Program, ARTSC 1991 (6 credits)
While living with a host family, students will carry out their individual field investigations, collecting data and information for evaluation.  The project director will be present throughout the program to provide guidance and direction.  Final written project reports will be completed upon return to the US and submitted at a deadline set by the director of the program.

Faculty and Staff

Program Director: Luis G. Van Fossen Bravo

Academic Diretor for Brazil: Ana Paula Carvalho

Academic Director for Chile: Dolores Lima

Study Abroad Advising: Timothy Crawford


The Center for Latin American Studies underwrites a large part of this program—roundtrip airfare, room and board with the host family, and traveler’s insurance are covered by the Center. Students are responsible for the cost of six credits of summer tuition, visa fees and all other incidentals.

Summer 2020 Pricing & Dates:

In-State Fee Out-of-State Fee
$4,530 $4,730
Depart USA Return to USA
May 8, 2020* June 19, 2020*

*Approximate dates

Requirements for consideration

  • Candidates are required to be full time, degree seeking undergraduates (from any discipline) maintaining a minimum of a 2.75 grade point average. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors or seniors who possess the necessary skills and disposition are welcome apply.
  • By the time the field component begins, applicants must possess sufficient Spanish language proficiency to communicate effectively with their host families, travel independently and carry out their individual projects.
  • Most importantly, interested applicants must demonstrate a willingness to be flexible, assimilate to a new culture, and welcome cross-cultural interaction. Selected candidates must be initiative taking, self-directed and comfortable functioning with little supervision.

Deadline: Coming soon

For more information on the CLAS Seminar & Field Trip, please e-mail:

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