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Social Justice & Development Internship

Integrate theoretical concepts and real-world experience through hands-on experience. Move from classroom theory to actual practice in your internship placement, learning how communities are seeking to create lasting social change.

Block 1  (5 Weeks):

Study in San Jose and the Central Valley. Students live in San Jose with Costa Rican families and study Spanish for four hours daily in the morning. In the afternoon students learn about different topics pertinent to the Central American context such as globalization, health care systems, environmental issues, and history, among others. A constantly evolving reading anthology, expert guest speakers and local field trips are the tools used in getting at these topical issues. One week in Block I is spent in Nicaragua or Panama where students are able to see first hand the current economic and political conditions in Nicaragua or Panama, and are challenged to compare and contrast its reality with neighboring Costa Rica. Students prepare for their field internships during this first month by choosing the country in which they will work and by planning their particular internships in consultation with faculty advisors who are experts in the culture of the country chosen and in the students’ areas of interest.

Block 2  (8 Weeks):

After the first block in which staff closely evaluate students’ specific educational needs, interests, and Spanish proficiency, students are placed in an individualized internship to gain experience in urban or rural areas in a field of their interest. Only one student is placed at each internship site. ICADS offers over 65 structured internships and research opportunities in Costa Rica in the areas of environment, education, health, development, and wildlife conservation, and women’s studies. Internship placements are determined based on a number of factors, including student interests, previous experience, formal education, and level of Spanish competency. Internships with stricter requirements include those in the medical field.

Block 3  (1 Weeks):

Upon completion of the eight-week internship, students return to ICADS to complete written work and oral presentations, while processing their experiences as a group and together with their faculty advisors (including a reentry workshop). Students have done internships including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Assisting in a regeneration project at the Iguana Reintroduction Farm with the Bribri indigenous tribe.
  • Working with women and children who are victims of violence at a non-profit organization in San Ramon, Costa Rica.
  • Setting up a workshop on birth control and sexually transmitted disease prevention for mothers in the community of Rio Azul, San Jose.
  • Turtle conservation work in the Cahuita National Park.
  • Working with a campesino small farmer’s organization to promote sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Working in a soup kitchen for children and developing a worm composting project for waste management in the same organization.
  • Participating in medical brigades and workshops with an institute of psychologists.


ICADS recommends 15 credits for the Social Justice and Internship Program, broken down as:
3 Credits Spanish
3 Credits ECON/SOC 421 Latin American Perspectives on Justice and Sustainable Development
9 Credits Directed Internship
Keep in mind that the final number of credits granted is up to the university. Be sure to check with your university if you have questions about credits.

Start Date
SPRING 2019:
January 28 - May 3

SPRING 2020:
January 27 - May 1

FALL 2019:
September 3 - December 6

FALL 2020:
September 7 - December 11
14 Weeks
Tuition and Fees
2019: $12,650
2020: $12,950