SPEA in Mexico

Spend two weeks serving a community in Mexico while earning course credit

Offered in partnership with Play360, this course revolves around active participation in the construction of a playground outside of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Chiapas, one of the poorest states in Mexico, is home to a large indigenous population and twelve federally recognized ethnicities. Providing space and opportunities to play is a development model that has been shown to increase enrollment at primary schools in Central America.

Learn more about the SPEA in Mexico program

This program will not run summer 2018. Check back next year for information on summer 2019!

V482/V582 – Designing and Managing Sustainable Development Projects (3cr.)

Program Director: Jonathan Racek

SPEA in Mexico is a three credit (V482/V582) course that explores the design and development of effective and impactful community based projects. You will see and hear first-hand how NGOs in southern Mexico operate and will cover topics such as needs assessments, stakeholder analysis, strategic design, evaluation, and budgeting. Through course resources, guided discussion, journal reflection, and experiences, you will develop an informed understanding of how well designed development projects can create impact and accurately respond to community need. During the course, you will also design your own project using the techniques and tools introduced in the course.

The course will also allow time for you to acquaint yourself with the history, culture, and political experience of Southern Mexico.

All IU Bloomington students in good academic standing can apply. However, you should consider the physical and emotional challenges of the trip to ensure the program is a good fit.

Lodging will be at the Hotel Rincon del Arco, a beautiful, historic structure near the center of San Cristobal de las Casas. The hotel offers amenities like Wi-Fi, laundry service, and a cafeteria. You will sleep in double occupancy rooms, with one roommate of the same gender. You will be eating breakfast and most dinners in the hotel and lunch will be served on the job site. With the exception of personal snacks, the program fee covers all food.

Note: You will pay two amounts – the tuition, which is what Indiana University credits cost, and you will also pay the SPEA Abroad program fee. Play360 also asks all program participants to set a fundraising goal of $1,000 (in addition to the SPEA Abroad program fee) to help cover the cost of playground building materials and reduce the burden on economically challenged communities. Play360 will help you develop your fundraising skills and guide you with ideas for how to meet your goals.

SPEA in Mexico Program Fee: $1,600

The program fee includes lodging, medical insurance, three meals per day, and cultural excursions.

* Program fee is subject to change due to unforeseeable circumstances

IUB Tuition – 3 credits

The tuition cost for SPEA in Mexico is based on IU Bloomington tuition. The amount of tuition you pay will vary based on your student status.

Additional Costs

You will need to pay for your flight to Mexico, personalsnack food, and other incidentals.


  1. The SPEA Abroad Scholarship/Fellowship is available to help SPEA students from IUB and IUPUI study abroad. Please visit our scholarship page for eligibility requirements and application deadlines.
  2. The Service-Learning Student Travel Scholarship is available for students participating in this program. Application Deadline - March 24.

Other scholarships are available on a competitive basis.

Tentative Syllabus