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Overseas and Off-Campus Programs

Border Studies: US Borderlands, Mexico, & Guatemala

Semester: Fall or Spring
Offered: Annually
Estimated Dates: Fall: mid-August to late November, Spring: late January to early May
Program Focus: Immigration Issues, US-Mexico Border Conflicts
Prerequisites: Spanish 201 with a “B” average or better in language study                                                   
Housing: Host Families
Campus Contact: Elliott Young
Associate Professor of History

Program Design

In cooperation with Earlham College, Lewis & Clark offers the Arizona Border Studies program. Tucson-based Border Studies Program (BSP) staff coordinate all aspects of the program throughout the semester and work closely with the students. BSP staff members and local experts teach additional program courses for each semester.

The goal of this program is to assist students in acquiring a more complex and sophisticated analysis of issues related to migration. We strive to develop new leaders in the field of migration and human rights, thereby encouraging thoughtful and engaged global citizens who are well informed and grounded in their own individual experiences. Participants on this program have the unique opportunity of linking communities and geographic spaces together through direct living, working, and travel experiences that will accompany academic study. The semester allows students to enhance their understanding and analysis of migration, the global economy, transnational communities, international boundaries, and other key issues.

The program is centered in rigorous academic work including classroom study, meaningful community engagement, and personal experience. Each student will live with a host family throughout their stay on the border. Students will participate in a core seminar on migration that includes a travel component, which will take students to central and southern Mexico.  Furthermore, all students will be immersed in an extended field study placement.

The spring semester is designed specifically for juniors and seniors, and, in the case of qualified second-semester juniors, may allow the possibility of using the research gained during the semester as part of senior capstone work (thesis, honors project, etc., as applicable) upon return Lewis and Clark.

Location:  Tucson and Ambos Nogales are excellent base locations for this program. In Tucson, there are a number of scholars and academic programs that focus on migration and border issues at the University of Arizona, while the city itself also boasts a strong social movement responding to migrant deaths, borderlands militarization, human rights, and civil liberties. The Border Patrol’s Tucson sector is the top crossing point for undocumented immigration, while Nogales, Sonora is the Mexican border town receiving the highest number of repatriated migrants. While migrants passing through this sector come from all over Mexico and Central America, the highest percentages have been from Chiapas, Oaxaca, and other central and southern Mexican states that we plan to visit during the 2-3 week travel seminar. The travel seminar will give students firsthand experience with the realities that sending communities face as well as how people are responding to such challenges. It will also give students the chance to learn from Mexican scholars and activists working at the opposite end of the migration route from those along the U.S.-Mexico border.


Requirements Fulfilled: Fulfills the overseas requirement for Latin American Studies minor and the two-course international studies requirement.

Credits: Program participants receive 18 credit hours for successful completion of the program.

Curriculum: The classes include Roots/Routes of Migration, Critical Issues in the Borderlands, Identity, Privilege, & Social Change, Supervised Field Study, Spanish or Independent Study Project. The courses are taught by the Resident Director and by local faculty.


Fee Breakdown:

Overseas Program Fee (includes tuition, room & board, excursions, and supplemental health insurance): $31,112

Stipend: Students will receive a stipend to cover the cost of meals and transportation costs not covered by the program fee.  

Estimated Airfare (Round trip PDX to TUS): $300 - $400

Estimated Travel Document Fees:

Estimated Health Insurance Fee: $1,275.50*

*All students participating in overseas programs are automatically enrolled in iNext, a supplemental travel insurance program. The fee for iNext is covered in the program cost. However, students are also required to have comprehensive health insurance during their time abroad. All students participating in overseas programs, both abroad and domestic, are automatically enrolled in the College’s student health insurance program. Similar to a regular semester on-campus, students participating in overseas programs may waive enrollment in the student health insurance program if they have other comprehensive health insurance (e.g., through a parent, guardian or employer) that 1) provides coverage for them in the geographic region in which they will be studying and 2) includes mental health benefits. Click here for more information regarding Health Insurance Information & Overseas Programs.  

Program Preparation

Application Process: This program has a dual application process.  First you apply to Lewis & Clark and the top applicants will be forwarded to Earlham College for final selection. 

Country-Specific Health Information: Click here to view specific health information for people traveling to Mexico.

State Department Country Information: Click here to visit the State Department’s Mexico page.

Arizona: Border Studies

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