Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this program will not be offered in summer 2021. We hope to offer the program in summer 2022!
This Capstone course exposes students to the history, anthropology, and cultural heritage of Mérida, and the Yucatán in general and includes daily excursions to archeological sites, local museums, ecological reserves, colonial neighborhoods, and several other areas.
This program was developed in collaboration with the Universidad Marista de Mérida. As part of the collaboration, students from the Universidad Marista de Mérida will visit UNI during the spring 2021 semester.
Fernando Calderón, Associate Professor
Campus Address: SRL 319
Dr. Calderon has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and Latin America and, as a student, studied abroad for a semester in Ecuador. A native Spanish speaker, Dr. Calderon is looking forward to leading UNI students on this program and exploring the history, anthropology and cultural heritage of the Yucatán!
CAP 3131: Analysis of Social Issues (3 credit hours)
This Capstone course exposes students to the history, anthropology, and cultural heritage of Mérida, and the Yucatán in general and includes daily excursions to archeological sites, local museums, ecological reserves, colonial neighborhoods, and several other areas. The purpose of this course is twofold: Our time will be also devoted (but not exclusive) to understanding the development of the Maya civilization, the role of the colonial church in local history, post-conquest Mayan society. In addition, we will analyze a range of contemporary social issues pertaining to local indigenous communities and how they have dealt with globalization, capitalism, racism, marginalization. Think of this course as a people’s history of Mérida and the Yucatán in which everyone, regardless of status, class, race, ethnicity, or gender, has played a vital role in nation-state building and the preservation of Mayan culture. Moreover, the goal of this course is to get students to think critically, engage in the readings, ask questions, and challenge students to interrogate dominant narratives. At the conclusion, students should expect to have a more nuanced understanding of the ethnohistoric and contemporary issues prevalent in the region.
Participation in this program requires several class meetings throughout the spring semester, although the capstone course is scheduled as a summer course. The Study Abroad Center will direct enroll participants in the capstone course during the spring semester. Please contact the program's course leader for more information on academic requirements.
To view the tentative course syllabus, click HERE.
- In order to receive Capstone credit, program participants must have completed 60 credits hours prior to the program's course start date (i.e. be of Junior standing). Students who participate in capstone programs without meeting the credit hour prerequisite will receive elective credit. In this instance, students should consult with their academic advisor(s) regarding how the elective credit fits into their specific plans of study.
- Students planning to participate in the spring commencement ceremony in May can enroll in this summer term program, however, their degree will not be conferred until the end of the summer term and is contingent on the successful completion of the program and all required coursework.
- Students attending colleges and universities other than UNI are welcome to participate in this program. If you are not currently a UNI student, but would like to participate in this program, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.
- Capstone courses cannot be repeated. If you have previously taken this capstone course, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.
Tentative Program Dates: May, 2 weeks
Sample itinerary is subject to change. Depending on a variety of factors, participants may either fly individually and pay the airline directly for their airfare OR fly as a group from Des Moines International Airport and pay a designated travel agency for their airfare. Program participants will be informed on how to purchase airfare once they are committed to participation, in the months prior to program departure.
Day 1: Arrive to Mérida, Mexico
Day 2: Meet with local students at the Universidad Marista de Mérida, classes on "survival" Spanish and Mayan culture, followed by a city tour of Mérida
Day 3: Guest lecture by Dr. Andrea Cucina; visit to Museum of Anthropology and History in Mérida
Day 4: Spanish class in the morning, then travel to Chichén Itzá, a complex of Mayan ruins and home to the step pyramid El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan. Afterwards, stop by the city of Valladolid, a vibrant city showcasing colonial-era buildings, as well as a cenote, which is an opening to an underground river that the Mayans thought was an entrance to the underworld. Many stunning cenotes can be found across the Yucatán.
Day 5: Presentation on regional cuisine, then trip to the Ek Balam Yucatec-Maya archaeological site and rural town, Temax.
Day 6: Trip to Las Coloradas and Río Lagartos, a coastal area on the Golf of Mexico known its uniquely colored waters and flamingos.
Day 7: Free day
Day 8: Spanish class; trip to the ancient Maya city of Uxmal followed a tour of Museo del Chocolate
Day 9: Classes on Spanish and Mayan culture; trip to Soluta de Peon (working hacienda)
Day 10: Spanish class; trip to the city of Izamal. Visit to Cultural and Artisan Center of Izamal and other sites in town.
Day 11: Spanish class; tour of cemetery
Day 12: Final day for reflection and discovery; chocolate making at Fela Chocolate
Day 13: Departure
Housing & Meals
Students will stay in host families. Two meals per day are built into the cost of the program. Remaining meals will be paid for by students out-of-pocket while abroad. Students are encouraged to try the local foods!
Capstone in Mexico
Estimated Program Cost:
* estimated total cost of participation, actual amount depends on type of housing accommodation selected, actual airfare purchase price, personal spending habits, and other factors
Cost of studying on-campus*
*per semester, estimated, will vary per person
Tuition & Fees:
Room & Board:
Dates & Deadlines
The Study Abroad Center reserves the right to determine participants' eligibility to Study Abroad. Students must meet all of the following in order to be eligible to Study Abroad:
- Have a cumulative 2.5 GPA or higher at the time of application and maintain this cumulative GPA prior to departure and throughout the study abroad process
- If your cumulative GPA is lower than 2.5, submit the following to the Study Abroad Center (103 East Bartlett):
- Letters of reference from two academic contacts (e.g. academic advisor and former or current professor) supporting your pursuit of study abroad. If you are attending a faculty-led study abroad program, one of the letters must be from a course leader. However, if the program has two course leaders, only one of the letters can be from one of the course leaders.
- Must be over the age of 18 years old
- Must meet the course prerequisites (participation in the program is dependent upon meeting these)
- Must be in good standing with the University
- UNI's partner institutions may require additional eligibility requirements to be met, these vary from institution to institution. Please consult with the Study Abroad Center staff to discuss these additional requirements if applicable.
- Applicants traveling to a region of a country or a country with an overall Travel Advisory Level 3 (Reconsider Travel) or 4 (Do Not Travel) will not be eligible.
- All study abroad applicants must pass the Study Abroad Applicant Assessment with a score of 70% or greater.
- Applicants may be selected for an in-person interview before being accepted. Selection for an interview does not guarantee acceptance into the program. You will be contacted directly by the Study Abroad Center if selected for an interview.