Caribbean Studies Summer Institute: Caribbean Society and Culture in Comparative Perspective

Students on Caribbean ruins

Experiences will include:

  • Touring historical cities on each island, visiting national museums, plantations, and various archaeological sites.
  • Free time on many of the islands various beautiful beaches.
  • Spending Carnival on the island of St. John
  • Unique and transformative immersion opportunities to deeper explore Caribbean society and culture.

Program Overview

The Caribbean region is as a fascinating natural laboratory of cultural and ethnic diversity. The four-week Caribbean Studies Summer Institute integrates sociological, anthropological, and historical perspectives to the study of Caribbean society and culture. Students will be introduced to key social-scientific concepts such as race, ethnicity, nation, culture, and their relevance (or irrelevance) in the attempt to understand Caribbean cultures and identities. Students will learn about the contributions of different ethnic groups to modern Caribbean culture, and examine the processes by which these various contributions were blended and transformed through cultural interactions, taking into account the power relations between groups throughout the colonial, imperial, and post-independence historical periods. Students will also be introduced to the major issues regarding U.S. involvement in the Caribbean. The intent will be to consider the variety of traditions making up Caribbean identity, in particular Afro-Caribbean identities, but also identities based on Hispanic, English, French, Dutch, East Indian, Native Indian, and mestizo heritage, among others, as well as identity issues in countries and regions on the Atlantic coast of Central and South America.

Studying in the Caribbean offers students the opportunity to become more globally literate, exposing students to an international perspective and a more complex understanding of global issues. With a heavy emphasis on field trips, experiential learning and daily opportunities to interact with locals, students will be able to live what they are learning. Furthermore, they will share these learning experiences with a cohort of students and professors from different regions of the United States and Puerto Rico, allowing for rich discussions, a diverse setting and collaborative learning.

The program will draw heavily on the study of material culture and cultural productions (archaeological sites, architecture, literature, plastic arts) interpreted as "texts" that speak about the political, economic and social conditions in which they were produced, and which ultimately point to the debates that play a key role in the construction of contemporary identities in the region. Social science methodology will be strongly emphasized with a view to helping students develop research projects. In addition to classroom study and lectures, students will participate in such course-related activities as field trips to major cities, museums, and historical and archaeological sites.

Students will reside in UPRC and UVI on-campus housing, and will be able to access libraries, museums, computer labs, and recreational facilities as are available on the campuses.

Program Structure

June 8-17 San Juan, Cayey, Pinones, Loiza, Luquillo
June 17-19 Ponce
June 19-25 Vieques
June 25-28 St. Croix
June 28-July 3 British Virgin Islands: Virgin Gorda, The Baths, Norman Island, Jost Van Dyke
July 3-4 Carnival at St. John
July 5 Return to Puerto Rico and the United States from St. Thomas.

Academic Credit

Upon successful completion, students earn a total of 9 undergraduate credits in three UMass Boston courses (award of graduate level credit is possible by special arrangement in some cases):

  • SOCIOLOGY 321L, Race and Ethnic Relations Focus on the Caribbean, 3 credits
  • ANTHROPOLOGY 274, Peoples and Cultures of the Caribbean, 3 credits; and
  • Either: SOCIOLOGY 478, Directed Study in Sociology; or, ANTHROPOLOGY 478, Directed Study in Anthropology, 3 credits.
  • Graduate level credit is possible by special arrangement. Applicants interested in graduate credit must seek and obtain permission before registering for the program.

The Faculty

This course is brought to you by the Departments of Sociology and Anthropology and the College of Advancing and Professional Studies at UMass Boston, in collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, the University of the Virgin Islands, and with California State University Fullerton.

The institute’s courses will be jointly directed and taught by Jorge Capetillo-Ponce, Associate Professor of Sociology, UMass Boston; Luis Galanes, Professor of Anthropology at University of Puerto Rico at Cayey; and Julian Jefferies, Assistant Professor of Education at the California State University at Fullerton.


Please be advised that international programs are subject to change, slight or major, at any time due to circumstances beyond our control; this includes any and all fees, dates, itinerary, and program activities. We will do our best to inform all applicants of any changes in as timely a manner as possible.

Schedule and Fee

Program runs:
June 8 - July 5, 2015

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The program fee covers all instruction and academic fees, including entrance fees for museums and archaeological sites, UPRC and UVI campus housing, hotel charges incurred on week-end excursions, three meals per day, and all on-site program-related transport. A tuition fee of $855 will be paid directly to UMass Boston and the balance of $3995 will be paid to the Caribbean Institute.

The program fee does not include textbooks, initial airfare to PR and return to the US at the conclusion of the program nor travel insurance. Price is based upon 30 students, if less than 30 participants are admitted the program fee will increase.


Global Programs Study Abroad Scholarship is available for this program. Deadline is April 1, 2015.

« Download Scholarship Application »

To Apply

This course is open to all University of Massachusetts Boston students. Individuals from other colleges and universities are also welcome to apply.

Application Deadline:
April 25, 2015

Applications are reviewed every week until April 24th. Early applications are strongly encouraged, especially if planning to apply for a loan. As part of the application process students must meet with Professor Capetillo during scheduled times in March and April.

« Download Application »

Additional Information

More Information
Jennifer Goode-Sollis

Academic Information
Professor Jorge Capetillo
Department of Sociology
p: 617.287.6284

Dr. Luis Galanes,
University of PR at Cayey
Cayey, PR 00736
p: 787.738.2161,
(ext 2211)

Dr. Julian Jefferies
Department of Reading
California State University, Fullerton
p: 657.278.7522