About MSID—International Development in Ecuador
Few countries as small as Ecuador contain such remarkable geographic and biological diversity. Geographically, it ranges from coastal deserts to temperate mountain valleys to Amazon forests. Culturally and racially, its population includes a mix of indigenous, Spanish, and African elements. The program is based in Quito, an Andean city that houses a remarkable combination of colonial and modern, rich and poor. Internship sites are scattered within a 3-hour radius of Quito.
For help deciding between Spanish language options, consult the Spanish Language Programs Comparison Chart (PDF).
Learning from experience is the core of Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID). The program puts you in direct contact with the social and economic realities of actual communities and of people working within them to address complex problems. Through classes, field trips, internships, and research, MSID strives to establish a continual dialogue linking experience with theory and critical analysis. Students from a variety of disciplines—the social sciences, Latin American studies, agriculture, forestry, environmental studies, business, education, public health, health sciences, and many others—find MSID an academically challenging and personally enriching experience.
The MSID curriculum explores the theoretical and practical implications of international development and intercultural issues. Field experience is an integral part of all courses. Pre-departure readings and assignments create a common knowledge base from which the courses and internships build. All of the curriculum except the language course can be taken for graduate-level credit.
Learn more about the MSID's mission and educational philosophy.
Housing & Meals
Homestays are an integral component of the learning experience, and often a highlight for participants. Your family provides not only housing and most meals, but is also a vital connection to Ecuadorian culture and daily life. All families have been carefully screened by our partner organization in Quito and complete an orientation prior to hosting students. Nearly all families have hosted program participants before and have been chosen for their genuine interest in sharing Ecuadorian life with an MSID program participant. Most students will experience living with two host families—one in Quito during the classroom phase and a second one in the rural area during the internship/research phase.
Host families provide 2 meals per day—breakfast and dinner. Students will be responsible for providing their own lunches. Several inexpensive dining options are within walking distance of Fundacion CIMAS, where all classes are held.
Excursions & Social Activities
Although excursions change from semester to semester, students can expect to visit a variety of sites that may include local markets, development agencies, and other areas of interest around Quito.
- Foster an understanding of the global context through classroom and experiential learning
- Cultivate awareness and appreciation for development issues through engagement with diverse communities
- Translate insights gained into thoughtful and respectful long-term perspectives on concepts of social justice and sustainable development
- Strengthen communication skills through acquisition of local languages and cultural awareness
- Gain cross-cultural competencies through extended engagement at a local grassroots organization
Faculty & Staff
A team of dedicated Ecuadorian staff based in Quito work to ensure that your MSID experience is safe, academically enriching, and rewarding.
José Suárez is Executive Director of Fundación Cimas del Ecuador, a development-focused nonprofit organization in Quito. Dr. Suárez received his MPH and PhD degrees in public health from the University of Minnesota. A physician and epidemiologist with extensive community experience, he has authored research studies and books about health and environment in Ecuador, participated in many international and national committees, and served as a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization and Ecuador’s Ministry of Health. In addition to his extensive experience working with North American students and academic programs—including MSID since 1989—Dr. Suárez has taught at the University of Washington, Evergreen State University, and the Medical School of the Universidad Central del Ecuador.
Dolóres López is President of Fundación Cimas. She studied Anthropology at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE) and holds a bachelor's degree from Evergreen State College and a master’s degree in Social Science and Ecuadorian Studies from the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Quito. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Latin American Cultural Studies Doctoral Program at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar in Quito. She has conducted research on social and cultural population issues; gained practical experience in working in indigenous and peasant communities; and organized local, national, and international conferences. In recent years she has been deeply involved in intercultural research projects and actively participates in community-based processes to identify alternatives for development. She has worked with US students and study abroad programs for many years, including MSID since 1989.
All MSID courses are taught by Ecuadorian faculty who are experts in their fields. Their CVs are available upon request.