J-Term Ecuador

Social and Political Transformation in Ecuador

Travel from Ecuador’s Andean highlands to the Amazon, and back again. Study political participation and voice in an evolving cultural landscape.

Accepting applications for January 2022

Program Structure

Students are based in Quito, but should expect a great deal of travel. Reading, discussion, and lecture (all in English) are interwoven with field visits that highlight the cultural, political, and environmental diversity of Ecuador.

Topics & Themes

Indigenous rights, gender equality, the protection and management of natural resources, Latin American history and politics, Ecuador’s Constitution of 2008.


Quito, Ecuador

Terms & Dates

January 2022 (Jan. 1 - Jan 24)


4 credits

Program Overview

Students study the cultural, social, economic, and political landscape in Ecuador. They soak in the beauty and stark contrasts of Quito, their home base. They experience Ecuadorian family life through homestays, and excavate the city’s history in field trips in and around the historic city center. Students travel more broadly through the countryside on two four-day field trips, one to the Amazonian rain forest and the other to a series of indigenous Kichwa villages in the highlands. They critically examine models of community-supported as they explore Ecuador’s diverse ecosystems, challenges, and assets. Classroom time is spent in conversation with leaders from the local nonprofit and political communities. Particular emphasis is placed on the rights written in the Ecuador’s Constitution of 2008 as well as challenges to its implementation. Significant time is spent examining the political will and momentum of new social movements, the country’s protection and management of natural resources, and movements towards gender equality. Students see first-hand how Ecuador’s indigenous populations are shaping debate and policy in political and cultural institutions.

Note: Internships are not included due to short term length of program.

Staff and Faculty

Martha Moscoso

Martha Moscoso is a sociologist and historian, with an advanced degree in Sociology of Development from the Sorbonne University in Paris and a master’s degree in Andean History from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), Quito. In addition to leading the Ecuador program site for HECUA, Martha is a professor in the Human Sciences faculty at Quito’s Catholic University. She has done extensive research in women’s studies and gender studies and in indigenous communities’ history. Martha has participated in numerous academic conferences and has published many articles on history in Ecuadorian and Latin American books and journals. Recently she has done research on education in Ecuador, sponsored by the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and the International Bureau of Education – UNESCO (IBE). This research was conducted within the framework of an international program for the construction of political dialogue in the field of education. Martha is member of the Institute of Ecuadorian Studies (IEE), a nonprofit organization that works in local development and citizen formation. She participates actively in a Citizen Assembly that aims at active participation at very local levels by people seeking social change. She is also a member of the Atelier of Historical Studies (TEHIS).

Adriana Corti

Adriana Corti received her bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Literature from the Catholic University of Quito. She minored in International Relations and Business which allowed her to intern as an undergraduate at the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Relations in the department of Economic Promotion. During her time in school she also studied in Denmark for a year as a member of a student exchange program. After graduating, Adriana held a position with IBM, in the Learning Services department, but left the position to grow her family. Since 2001 she has held a coordination position with HECUA’s Ecuador programs. Adriana has passion for her family, community development, and also enjoys traveling internationally. She knows Spanish, English, Danish, a little French, and some Portuguese and German too.


Social and Political Transformation in Ecuador (4 credits)

This program is a four-credit course examining development, government policies, and social participation in political processes. Students will understand important transformations both proposed and effected in Ecuador in recent years; the problems the country faces to apply all the changes proposed, and the participation of social movements supporting or rejecting the government proposals. The program is conducted in English with the participation of translators in the field. Ecuador, like some other Latin American countries, has followed a path some have called “twenty-first century socialism.” As a political candidate and later as the president, Rafael Correa skillfully wove together ideas from the left with religious and pragmatic philosophies. The results have included a number of economic and social achievements, but many controversial plans have also been strongly rejected by various social movements—by indigenous groups in particular, and by the most radical groups on the left. The Constitution approved in 2008 is an extraordinary document, granting rights to the natural world and to ethnic groups, recognizing new kinds of citizen participation, and claiming the sovereignty of Ecuador in new realms. Nearly a decade after approval of the Constitution, deep conflicts remain about how to apply it. Other sources of conflict are the extraction of oil and the relative power of the executive and the legislative branches.

Complete Syllabus

Program Costs

Fee Breakdown: Cost includes round trip airfare to and from Quito, ground travel to field sites, food, lodging, and medical insurance. When students are not traveling, they are placed in a homestay with a local family, and food is provided. A note on costs: The program costs listed below are what HECUA charges for participation in its programs. The final amount that a student pays might be higher and can vary from college to college. Many colleges assess additional fees or charge their own tuition for off-campus programs. Some colleges also have specific financial aid rules for off-campus programs. Therefore, all students should check with the off-campus-study office and the financial aid office of their home institution to confirm their final cost for a HECUA program. A full and comprehensive fee breakdown can be found on the Program Costs page.

Member Schools

Member schools are schools that are part of the HECUA consortium. For HECUA member school students, the cost of the program is $4,800. Check your school’s status.

Non-member school

Non-member schools are schools that are not part of the HECUA consortium. To check your school’s status, click here. For non-member school students, the cost of this HECUA program is $5,200.


HECUA distributes three scholarships to students from consortium member institutions. Click here to view all scholarships.

Good to know

The program is conducted in English. Students are not required to have Spanish proficiency to participate. Lodging is arranged in family homestays, allowing for cultural exchange. Most host families will have at least one family member who speaks English, and in homes where that is not the case, students who have Spanish-language ability will be paired with students who have none. HECUA will also provide translators to assist during site visits and guest lectures.

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