Learning Abroad Center
A seaside photo with brightly colored Puerto Rican buildings in the background

Puerto Rico: History, Diversity, & Community


Explore the history of diversity and community under the lens of Puerto Rico’s political, societal, and cultural context.

Program Details

San Juan, Puerto Rico
May Session (Spring semester on campus)
Languages Taught In
Languages Taught In
College of Education and Human Development

Program Eligibility

Student Type
Student Type
UofM Students
Non UofM Students
Student Year
Student Year
Graduate Students
No Requirement


Puerto Rico: History, Diversity, & Community explores the history of diversity and community under the lens of Puerto Rico’s political, societal, and cultural context. You will have the opportunity to learn outside the classroom by engaging in different activities and visiting sites around the island that celebrate Puerto Rico's Taíno, African, and Spanish heritage. From learning how to play Batéy (Taíno sport) to dance Bomba (Yoruba dance) and engaging in place-based learning, you will experience the richness and complexity of Puerto Rican culture. Finally, you will engage in discourse with Puerto Rican government representatives to better understand the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. By the end of this course, you will understand the sociopolitical issues between Puerto Rico and the US and recognize, as cultural beings, the attitudes and beliefs that you hold and can detrimentally influence perceptions of and interactions with other communities.

This program is designed to both encourage you to think critically about diversity and community and to provide you with an opportunity to learn about other cultures. The topic of diversity in a different country will allow the class to compare and contrast personal, academic and professional experiences between the United States and Puerto Rico.

Program Model


Housing & Meals

You will be staying at a hostel in the metropolitan area of Puerto Rico. The accommodations are similar to “dorm living”. You will share rooms and bathrooms with other students, but you will have your own bed. All meals are your responsibility. You will have access to local cuisine that accommodates dietary restrictions and preferences.

Application Deadline

January 15, 2024

Program Dates

May 2024: May 11–18, 2024


OLPD special topics course

Puerto Rico: History, Diversity, & Community looks at different methods, theories and practices of leadership, politics, and diversity. You will learn to become agents of social change and advocacy, and thereby promote societal understanding and appreciation of diverse views against the damaging effects of individual, institutional, and societal forms of oppression and discrimination.

Program Leader

María C. Pabón Gautier received her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in Educational Psychology. Her work has focused in areas of ethnic/racial identity and equity, microaggressions, anti-racist education, organizational development, and issues of justice. María serves as the vice president for talent, equity, and culture at Project for Pride in Living in Minneapolis where she oversees human resources, racial equity, and organizational development. She also served as vice president for equity and inclusion at St. Olaf College. María is originally from Puerto Rico. She is an avid reader, loves traveling, road trips, and trying new foods.


  • Taíno Heritage—Caguana Ceremonial Park: learn how to play Batéy as well as the history of the indigenous people from Puerto Rico 
  • Spanish Heritage—El Morro, Old San Juan: learn why the Spanish colonized Puerto Rico and analyze the impact of colonization in modern times
  • African Heritage—Bomba Lesson, Loiza, Hermanos Ayala: learn the history of the Yoruba people and the impact of art and music in achieving freedom from slavery
  • Puerto Rico Supreme Court: speak to government representatives and learn about Puerto Rican politics and the relationship with the US. 
  • El Yunque Rainforest: visit this Puerto Rican rainforest to learn about environmental justice and its relationship with racial justice.

More Information

For more information, contact María Pabón at [email protected]

Program Fee

Spring Break 2024 Cost of Participation forthcoming

If you are registered for less than 13 credits, or if you are a non-UofM student or a UofM graduate student, you will be charged tuition for this course in addition to the program fee. Notify the Learning Abroad Center if this applies to you.

Billing & Payments

Visit Billing for information about the billing process for application fees, deposits, and program fees.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Visit Financial Information for information on using financial aid and scholarships for study abroad.

Cancellation Policy

The regular Learning Abroad Center cancellation and refund policy does not apply to this course. Connect with your program contact for details on the cancellation and refund policy for this program.


Be aware: All programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.

Current US passport processing times are longer than normal. If you do not have a passport, or your passport expires less than 6 months after your return date from your time abroad, apply for a new passport now.


The COVID-19 vaccine series is strongly recommended, pursuant to CDC guidelines, but not required for participation in this program.

You will be charged a $50 application fee for each application you submit.

Apply Now


When you submit your online application, you will be assigned an application checklist that includes:

  • First Step session

Next Steps

  1. After you complete all required application checklist items, you will receive an automated email message indicating your application is ready to be reviewed.
  2. Your completed application will be reviewed by the program leader in the sponsoring college/department.
  3. If admitted, the Confirmation & Payment Agreement form will be added to your checklist. Complete this form to secure your spot on the program. By submitting the form, you also give your approval for the program deposit to be billed to your UofM student account.
  4. Complete the confirmation checklist, which include the following items in additional to program-specific forms:
    • Passport Information
    • Emergency Contacts
    • Health Information Form
    • Online Health & Safety Orientation
    • Release & Waiver
  5. You will receive information about additional steps from the sponsoring college/department.