Fall elective: Lessons from Peasant and Indigenous Communities in Latin America

June 23, 2022

With greater frequency and scope, the world is experiencing such global crises as the disintegration of communities, the loss of meaning and the destruction of the natural environment. Many of us who have been privileged to study at the university level are passionate about using our learned expertise to work for solutions to these daunting challenges. This is good! Nevertheless, due to many of our unperceived assumptions about what it means to live well, to flourish as an individual and as part of a community, despite our commitment and hard work, we toil and end up contributing to the problems we seek to solve.

Through engagement with the land-based traditions of Latin America, namely agrarian and indigenous communities, this course seeks to facilitate a process where which students step back, recognize their own worldview in light of an encounter with a non-western worldview, and in doing so, are provided a new set of questions with which to explore their commonly held assumptions about reality, their vocation and the way they live.

In addition to guest speakers, rich dialogue and thoughtful readings, this class features an optional week-long pilgrimage through the densely populated, Mayan-filled highlands of Guatemala. Students will spend time at Lake Atitlan, considered to be among the most beautiful lakes in the world. The trip will take place in mid-October.

Instructor Nate Howard has 15 years of grassroots and professional experience working in community and rural development, peacebuilding, political advocacy, educational, entrepreneurial, and humanitarian initiatives throughout Latin America, particularly in Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. He holds an MBA with an emphasis in international economic development and has specialized in solidarity economics and cooperative development in Bogota, Colombia.

The class is offered by the Department of Urban Planning and is open to all students. It meets on Monday nights from 6:30-9:10 fall semester 2022. Undergraduates may register for PLAN 498 (CRN 31565); graduate students should register for PLAN 598 (CRN 31566).

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