International Studies in Cuenca, Ecuador
While most universities have a different way of naming this major–Global Studies, International Studies, International Relations, Cultural Anthropology–the core of what is learned is often the same: how different cultures are intertwined historically, economically, through health, and culturally in this world. There is no better way to understand the themes of this major than to spend time in another country, living with another family, and studying the language.
Global Health/Development Specialization
Ecuador presents a unique opportunity in that there are more than 25 indigenous communities as well as the mestizo and European influences. Each indigenous community is its own microcosm for learning about the ways the traditions of the past influence the present. For those interested in the global health realm of International Studies, learning about indigenous medicine from shamans is a great opportunity to dive deep. CEDEI has a seminar on Traditional Medicine with one of the professors, an indigenous woman from Saraguro; it is an amazing experience into how herbs, song, and incense are used to cure illnesses. Another course, Health Issues in Developing Countries, is specifically is tailored toward those just learning about public health and international development.
History/Political Science Specialization
Ecuador’s history, past and present, is complex regarding identity. Most countries that were conquered in brutal, bloody ways have a complicated history. The people who have inherited the traditions of the past must come to terms with a mixed identity between conquerors and conquered. Ecuador existed long before the Incas–there were early cultures like the Valdivia and Manta who lived and thrived; they were conquered by the Incas in brutal battles when the Peruvian Inca (King) Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui led his ferocious armies north from Cuzco. His son,Tupac Yupanqui, led the Incas into Ecuador, and they were met with resistance.
But, the victorious Incas left their mark, on the language (Quechua, or Quichua), the religion, the landscape, and the mentality of the Cañaris, an indigenous group of the Andes, and others. When the Spanish arrived in 1532, Pizarro found a region broken and rebuilding; they found conflict between Incan kings which presented the perfect opportunity for conquest, and the Spanish conquered quickly. And this small snapshot of history only takes us up until the mid 1500s. The history of Ecuador since, regarding oil, democracy, socialism, the fight for indigenous rights, and the machismo that exists in most Latino cultures, is complex, but courses at CEDEI dive into this history. There are even Language courses in Quichua, so that you can understand the tongue of the indigenous peoples, a language that has been spoken here, and in other parts of South America, for hundreds of years.
Cultural Studies Specialization
Art, music, handcrafts. The life of the artisan is the heartbeat of this country. Cuenca is known for the panama hat production, for shawls woven in Gualaceo, for silver filigree in Chordeleg, for the skirts of the Chola Cuencana. Every region, every city, has its own particular character. The courses at CEDEI highlight this diversity and encourage student participation through research essays and projects into which aspects of culture they want to explore. Courses like Race and Ethnicity in the Andes ask the complex questions of culture and identity. Andean Music Culture is a course designed to cover the genres, instruments, and influences on the music of the region. Latin American Art looks at the work of famous Ecuadorian artists and explores the symbols and styles used. These courses together create an overview of many aspects of the culture of this country.
The understanding of business and the economy in other cultures is one way to understand a country’s strengths and weaknesses, its potential and its problems. Ecuador is different from many countries, even those within South or Central America. It is a democracy in the sense that the president is elected by the people. Much of the Constitution, most recently rewritten by ex-President Correa in 2008, is socialist in theory. There are new movements of start-ups and collaborative working spaces in larger cities like Quito and Guayaquil; university students are exploring design thinking and social change in a way that will dramatically shift the traditionalism of many Ecuadorians. The courses that CEDEI offers through its Business department, courses like Managing Across Cultures and Spanish for Business, cover the daily practices of businesses, large and small, in this country. The opportunities for internships, working in tandem with a variety of businesses, also make the practice and theory come to life.
Also visit the Business, Anthropology, Sociology courses