Online Courses

The Indigenous Movement in a Plurinational State: The Experience of Ecuador (CGS 112)

TR 9:15AM to 10:45AM

Instructor: Sebastián Granda Merchán, Director, Pitzer in Ecuador

Since its emergence in 1990, one of the central demands of the Ecuadorian indigenous movement has been the construction of the Plurinational State. For indigenous leaders, the Plurinational State constitutes a model of political organization that favors the recognition of cultural difference and spaces of autonomy and self-government for indigenous peoples, as a basic condition for the construction of equitable or intercultural relations between the different cultures that coexist in the country (Cruz, 2012).

The central purpose of the course is to discuss the changes that have taken place in the Ecuadorian State, as a result of the pressure exerted by the indigenous movement and the negotiations that have taken place with the different governments in office, during the last three decades. Special emphasis will be placed on those changes in the institutional matrix of the State that have made possible or restricted the capacity of indigenous peoples to take charge of their development and decide on the natural resources present in their territories.

The course is organized in four parts. In the first part, we will analyze, as a background, the emergence of the indigenous movement in the 1980s and the project of the Plurinational State. Then we will discuss the main achievements in terms of reorganization of the State, from 1990 to 2006, a period that is known in Ecuador as the period of neoliberal multiculturalism. The third part aims to analyze the advances and setbacks that took place during the government of Rafael Correa (2007 – 2017), a government with progressive proposals but that, from its second year in office, had strong conflicts with indigenous organizations. The last part will be destined to review what has happened during the government of Lenin Moreno, a government that offered to fulfill several of the demands of indigenous peoples not met by Correa, but that since 2018 took a 180-degree political turn and joined forces with the country’s economic elites.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • To demonstrate an understanding of the influence that coloniality has had on the process of nation-state construction in Ecuador and the adverse repercussions that this format of State has had on the life and reproduction of indigenous communities.
  • To identify and explain the central elements of the project of the Plurinational State raised by the Ecuadorian indigenous movement, and the implications that the project has in terms of reorganization of the structure and institutionality of the Ecuadorian State.
  • To explain the main changes that have occurred in the Ecuadorian State model, since the emergence of the indigenous movement and its interpellation to the State model built by the Creoles.
  • To understand the way in which the different ethnic groups of Ecuador think and problematize political coexistence, as well as the proposals that have been put in place to seek better models of coexistence.

Oppression, Resistance & Change in Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe (CGS 110)

TR 9:15AM to 10:45AM

Instructor: Batsi Chidzodzo, Director, Pitzer College in Southern Africa

That History is indispensable can never be argued. As a corollary, it is also often noted that that he who controls the past also controls the present and the future.  Africa and Africans, both on the continent and in the Diaspora, find themselves in rather peculiar circumstances in that they neither controlled their past nor are they in control of their present let alone the future. This course examines recent initiatives by Africans who are seeking to reclaim their past with a view to regaining control of their destiny as a people. The course will focus primarily on Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa, where the Pitzer program operates, but readings and discussions will draw from the entire continent as well.   The course will seek to provide students with an historical context within which to locate the prevailing socio-economic and political malaise that’s bedevilling the southern Africa region in particular and by extension, the continent of Africa and Africans in the Diaspora in general. The course will end with a discussion on initiatives that are in motion, which if carried to their logical conclusion, will see Africa reclaiming its rightful place in global affairs.

Course Objectives:

  • Discuss the political, economic and social conditions of Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe at the beginning of the 19th
  • Examine the impacts of Europeans’ incursions into Africa.
  • Describe and assess the various and oftentimes violent patterns of colonization and exploitation of Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
  • Discuss the differing patterns of the struggles for independence and decolonization of Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
  • Identify and discuss recent initiatives in place for an African Renaissance.

Students Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify opportunities and challenges facing Africans both on the continent in particular and those that are in the Diaspora in general.
  • Using Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe as case studies, situate the prevailing African socio-political challenges in a global context and try to be aware of how these issues may be shaped or influenced by global events.
  • Assess and evaluate how Africa will need to reposition itself in order to be able to advance its strategic socio-economic priorities for the 21st
  • Identify and describe the ethical and political implications of injustice, such as social problems, social stratification, the interdependence and intersection of systems of oppression, interpersonal and structural discrimination, and unequal distribution of and access to power and resources (including natural resources).
  • Identify and describe the hegemonic structures and practices that further social injustice and oppression.
  • Identify barriers to equality and/or inclusiveness and explore strategies to removing them.

Culture, Change and Justice in Nepal (CGS 92)

TR 7:00PM to 9:00 PM

Instructors/Facilitators:  Mike Donahue (Previous Director), Margie Donahue and Prakash Kandel (Current Directors) and the Pitzer in Nepal Staff

After a brief overview of Nepal’s history, politics, culture, religion and geographic and ethnic/caste diversity, the course will focus on a select number of important ongoing issues that affect the lives of the people of Nepal and, in many cases, also play out here in the US. Issues to be considered include health and healthcare, education, caste and ethnicity, women and gender, water and climate change, the Maoist conflict, the 2015 earthquake and migration and the remittance economy.

Issues will be examined through the lenses of academics, journalists, heads of NGOs, authors, poets, government officials, film makers, and common every-day Nepalis who represent a cross- section of the country’s extensive cultural, ethnic and class diversity.  Whenever possible, we will explore historical and current socio-economic conditions that have led to inequalities among various groups in Nepal, and the barriers to equality and inclusiveness associated with particular issues.  Written assignments and oral presentations will expect students to integrate material from multiple sources into a cohesive, multi perspective understanding of the topic or issue.

A key element in the pedagogical approach of the course will be weekly zoom sessions with Pitzer in Nepal program staff who will share their experiences, insights and opinions on the issues covered in the course. Our full-time program staff and faculty serve as a microcosm of the widespread diversity found in the country as a whole, with more than half of our staff hailing from the non-dominant, often oppressed, indigenous hill and low caste groups in Nepal.  As such, our program staff will offer us a range of human faces, experiences, stories and perspectives that would otherwise be difficult if not impossible to include in an on-line format.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop a greater, integrated understanding of a select number of important ongoing social justice and environmental issues in Nepal that are important to Nepalis including, especially, the Nepal Program staff and the families that host students on the program.
  • Foster an appreciation for the diversity within Nepal and demonstrate an ability to analyze issues from multiple perspectives within the Nepali culture (check the tendency to make overgeneralizations about the culture based on one person’s or one group’s perspective.)
  • Hone your capacity to recognize and understand the relationship between Nepali cultural values and behavior.
  • Develop an ability to “frame shift” or explore issues, opinions, behavior and events, from a Nepali cultural perspective.
  • Cultivate an awareness of the historical and current social, and economic conditions that have led to inequalities among various groups in Nepal.
  • Identify and describe the implications of systems of oppression and barriers to equality in Nepal (access to resources, power, education etc.) and explore strategies to remove them.
  • Demonstrate significant reflection and learning from an on-line service learning experience by integrating and analyzing the particulars of that experience within broader issues and processes.
  • Demonstrate an ability to write a comprehensive grant proposal to conduct research or initiate a project around an issue of interest.

Italian Culture Studies (CGS 90)

TR 9:15AM to 10:45AM

Instructors: Prof. Mora Franca, Prof. Elena Feboli, Directors, Pitzer in Italy

This is a multi-disciplinary course which is intended to give the student a broad understanding of the major compositional influences (historical and art historical, social, political, literary, artistic, geographic, economic, etc.) of Italian culture and how Italian culture has changed/is changing.  Parma, in the region of Emilia-Romagna, will be used as a case study of the Italian culture.

Throughout Italian history, the Emilia-Romagna region has played a vital role in the nation’s economic, cultural and political life. Since Roman times the corridor of prosperity that runs from Parma and Bologna to Rome has produced an entrepreneurial spirit responsible for one of the world’s most sophisticated and ecologically well-balanced economies. Through the use of “Thesis Driven Essays,” students’ writing will constitute a “rediscovery of the familiar” as they compare and contrast Italian culture with their own.

A part of the course is dedicated to the study of Renaissance Art History. This aims to give students an overview of the main artists and works of art that have characterized the Renaissance period in Italy, mainly in Northern Italy and Parma in particular.  Students will get an introduction to the historical period, the concepts of Renaissance and Humanism, the main artistic techniques used by the different artists and the set up of a “bottega“.

We will analyze how the different artistic centers have influenced the artists and their works.

Emphasis will be given to the analysis of the different works of art through images.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify through the knowledge of the history of Italy how Italy as a nation grew and developed
  • Analyze and compare works of art of Renaissance Italy and their importance in present times
  • Contextualize and summarize the important feature of major periods in the history of Italian culture
  • Guide, mentor and support Italian peers in reaching their English proficiency
  • Investigate in writing issues of modern Italian culture and formulate a personal opinion
  • Interpret and organize ideas during discussions with Italian peers
  • Describe and analyze important social issues from multiple cultural perspectives

Costa Rica and the Environment (CGS 97)

MW 4:15PM to 6:15PM

Instructor/Facilitator: Professor Juan Carlos Araya, Director, Pitzer in Costa Rica,

Visited by millions of tourist every year to explore it’s many eco-tourism sites, with over 25 percent of its land set aside in national parks and other protected areas, and with over 6% of the world’s species biodiversity, Costa Rica is renowned worldwide as “the green republic.” Not all is good, however.  Once over 65% of Costa Rica’s land was deforested, and while improvements have been made, we continue to see destruction of its tropical ecosystems due to the expansion of export related agriculture and  habitat lost due to mining operations, urban expansion and development of clean energy sites. Costa Rica faces many environmental related issues which will be examined in this course.

The course provides an overview of history, culture and society in Costa Rica with emphasis in environmental issues.  It examines aspects of Costa Rica’s conservation experience, including the role of environmental education, organizations, indigenous communities, and ecotourism. The course includes lectures by local faculty and invited guest speakers with expertise in specific issues of Costa Rica. There will be reading and writing assignments that allow students to explore topics that affect Costa Rica and the environment.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify environmental problems affecting Costa Rica.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of current social, political and economic factors affecting environmental issues in Costa Rica.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of Costa Rica’s environmental organizations.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of Costa Rica’s biodiversity.
  • Identify ecotourism’s effect to the environment.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of Costa Rica’s policies on environmental issues.
  • Identify issues affecting indigenous communities in Costa Rica and the environment

Virtual Internships