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Autonomous University of Social Movements, Semester/Academic Year

  • Various, Mexico
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Participate in grassroots advocacy and learn about the political and social movements in Mexico. In addition to visiting parts of Southern Mexico including Mexico City, Tlaxcala and Chiapas, you will get to make a difference while putting your Spanish to use. Learn about the theories in the classroom while applying them to make a more just world all while immersed in Mexican culture.

Application Deadline


Program Start


Program End


Partner University



  • Various

Program Term

  • Fall
  • Spring

Language of Instruction

  • English
  • Spanish

Program Details

Academic Program

The Autonomous University of Social Movements Study Abroad semester program is a 13-week, inter-disciplinary program focusing on the context, strategy and tactics of Mexican social movements. The program is open to college students and activists who want to investigate the theoretical groundings and actual manifestations of Mexican social movements, with important lessons for international solidarity work and US-based movements.

Course Descriptions and Syllabi

In this program, you will take 16 credits per semester. One year of college level Spanish or its equivalent in high school or independent study is required for participation in the program.

Interdisciplinary Course work

(Each course is 3 credits, 45 class hours)

  • Political Economy
  • Modern Mexico
  • Modern Social Movements
  • Mexican Culture

Intensive Language Study

(4 credits, 60 class hours)

  • Non-native Spanish speakers take:

Intensive Conversational Spanish

  • Native Spanish speakers take:

Introductory Tzotzil

General Education Information for UAlbany Students

Credits earned on this program will automatically satisfy the International Perspectives requirement. Three credits of foreign language study will satisfy the Foreign Language requirement. No additional approval is required for you to earn these general elective credits.

Major/Minor Information for UAlbany Students

Courses may also satisfy major and minor requirements, upon approval by the department.


All courses taken abroad count towards UAlbany General Elective credits. Credits and grades will appear on your UAlbany transcript. You may file a request to have additional courses approved for equivalency as necessary. 


A centerpiece of the Autonomous University of Social Movement’s study abroad program is your immersion in communities actively involved in political, economic, and cultural organizing. During the program your lodging includes:

  • San Cristóbal, Chiapas – Housing in rustic collective dormitories on the campus of the Universidad de la Tierra, a center for educating indigenous youth in practical trades
  • Oventic, Chiapas – Collective dormitories
  • Toluca de Guadalupe, Tlaxcala – Homestays with campesino families living at the base of La Malintze, one of Mexico’s largest mountains
  • Mexico City, Federal District – Homestays in La Polvorilla, a cooperative which is part of Mexico’s largest urban housing movement


On this program, you will do a lot of movement and will be moving from city to city. Meals will vary depending on where you are. At homestays you will have some meals prepared for you and in other accommodations, you may have to eat out at local restaurants. This is subject to change.

Estimate of Costs

For reference, review the Academic Year 2019-20 Estimate of Costs

More Information

Click for more information on Program Costs and Financial Aid.

Remember to speak with the Office of Financial Aid at your home campus to determine how your aid package could apply towards your program abroad.

Academic Requirements

Junior or Senior status preferred. Mature and qualified sophomores are also considered. Minimum 3.0 GPA. Knowledge of Spanish language preferred. All applicants must be independent, academically driven, show an interest in the curriculum offered and in the overall mission of AUSM.

Experiential Learning

This program allows you to get out of the classroom and into the community! To help you gain a better understanding of the day-to-day realities of the communities you live in, you wo;; participate in at least two workshops each week conducted in Spanish, including:

  • Organic farming, gender dynamics, liberation theology, and indigenous rights [San Cristóbal, Chiapas]
  • Traditional weaving, boot-making, indigenous culture, introduction to autonomous education [Oventic, Chiapas]
  • Traditional cooking, herbal medicine, immigration dynamics, organic fertilizer production, local festivals [Tlaxcala]
  • Urban organizing, urban gardening, local festivities [Mexico City]
  • Popular education, community organizing, meetings with social movement leaders [Chicago]

Funding Opportunities

Most financial aid and academic awards will apply to semester programs.

External scholarships, listed on our website, are a good way to partially fund your study abroad experience. In addition, the Center for International Education and Global Strategy offers two scholarship programs for UAlbany students studying abroad on UAlbany or 4-year SUNY programs.

More information on applying to these scholarships is located on the Scholarships web page.

Program Advisor

Curry, Mark

About the City

Through this program, you will experience Mexico from a social justice perspective. You will spend time at an inspiring school for indigenous self-sufficiency in Chiapas. You will also spend time in Tlaxcala mixing academic classes with visits to farms, mountain-top watersheds, cultural events, and community assemblies. Mexico City will also allow you to visit landmarks, human rights defenders, and activist around the city.

Travel Documents

A valid passport is required to participate in this program. You will need a VISA if you plan on staying in Mexico for more than six months. This is subject to change. More information regarding the visa application process is available upon acceptance to the program.

Application Availability

Applications become available online one semester before the program start date, based on the following timeline:

  • Spring/Winter/Spring Break programs: July
  • Fall/Year/Summer programs: December

Program Dates

Spring 2019

02/02/2019 to 05/06/2019

Fall 2019

08/31/2019 to 11/29/2019

Spring 2020

01/25/2020 to 04/24/2020

About the Program

The Autonomous University of Social Movements is a grassroots-based organization dedicated to profound social change that challenges existing power relationships and builds alternatives.

The Autonomous University of Social Movements struggles for democracy, economic justice and human rights on both sides of the US-Mexico border. Learn about Mexican social movements from social actors on the front lines of social change. The Mexico Solidarity Network created this unique study abroad program in 2005 to introduce you to dynamic new experiments in autonomous, community-based organizing and to build solidarity with Mexico’s most important and dynamic social movements.

The University at Albany and offers a unique opportunity to study the history, culture and politics of Mexico, plus intensive Spanish language classes with the Autonomous University of Social Movements (AUSM) and the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM), one of Mexico’s most prestigious public universities.

Program Orientations

Upon acceptance to the program, you will be required to attend a mandatory pre-departure orientation. During this time, you will have the opportunity to meet other program participants, discuss in-depth the details of your program, and prepare of the overall education abroad experience. The fall semester pre-departure orientation will be conducted the Saturday before the end of Spring UAlbany classes and in late November/early December for the spring term abroad.

Upon arrival to the AUSM program, you will attend a mandatory program orientation. This is an important and informative set of sessions organized by International Office of your host university.

Support Services

UAlbany’s Office of Education Abroad staff assists you during the application process, in your preparation to travel abroad, and on-site if necessary.

The AUSM staff serve as an experienced resource for resolving issues that you may encounter in while abroad.