A fall semester in Todos Santos, Mexico: An environmental humanities perspective

Todos Santos Center sign reading Colorado State University
CSU Todos Santos Center is an international extension of the Colorado State University System, located in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Photo by Dani Castillo.

For students who want an immersive, stimulating, study abroad experience in a foreign location not far from the U.S. – with CSU faculty on site – Todos Santos is a great option.

This Fall 2022, students can focus their learning at Todos Santos on environmental humanities, an interdisciplinary approach to understanding environmental issues from CSU’s humanities disciplines – art, history, literature, communication, philosophy. In environmental humanities, we “synthesize methods from different fields to create new ways of thinking about environmental problems” (Wikipedia).

Students take five classes and can earn 13 credit hours in 10 weeks by spending a semester in Todos Santos, Mexico. CSU professors accompany students, pairing intentional out-of-class excursions and experiences with unique course content specific to the region.

Students should prepare for an abundance of learning outside of the classroom, such as a multi-day hiking and camping trip to the high pine forest of the Sierra de la Laguna, interviewing and documenting the voices of local community members in an oral history, an impactful service-learning component, and more.

“As someone who has taught in Todos Santos multiple times, I can say that the Study Abroad experience there is richly rewarding for students and faculty alike. Students have a wonderful opportunity to meet and interact closely with the people of a town in Todos Santos that is both welcoming and lively,” says Ruth Alexander, professor emerita of history.

“In Fall 2022, with our emphasis on environmental humanities, students will immerse themselves in experiences that connect philosophical ideas, historical experience, artistic expression, writing, and language to a distinctive local environment and culture. Students will discover new ways of acquiring knowledge and new ways to think about their own identities, values, and ambitions. I tremendously enjoy teaching in Todos Santos, as students and faculty always forge close ties and create a dynamic learning community.”

Life at the Todos Santos Center

Students are housed in shared rooms in the CSU Todos Santos Center and will be camping while on remote excursions. Rooms are furnished with 1-2 desks, twin beds, a closet, and lamps. Linens and towels are provided.

Breakfast and lunch, Monday-Saturday, are prepared by an on-site local chef and are included in the program fee. Students are responsible for their own dinners Monday-Saturday and all meals on Sunday. Meals may include local cuisine such as chilaquiles, grilled fish, chile rellenos, as well as the occasional US-style pasta or fried chicken. The communal kitchen is also available for storing food and cooking meals on your own.

Environmental Humanities Coursework

Classes are organized into two five-week sessions and students take two classes each session; each class is worth three credits.

PHIL 382A Study Abroad – Mexico: Place, Sustainability, and Environment

3 credits
Dr. Ken Shockley

This course explores the interrelation of place, sustainability and environmental values through the lens of Todos Santos. The distinctive historical, cultural, social, and economic features of Todos Santos provide background and focus for our study.

HIST 415/HONR 392/HONR 492 Study Abroad – Mexico: History, Community, and Environment in Mexico

3 credits
Dr. Ruth Alexander

This course offers students a rich opportunity to learn about the history of community identity, formation, and change – inclusive of humans’ changing relationship to the environment – in the town and region of Todos Santos. Participants will meet and conduct oral history interviews with a range of community members and organizations.

Spanish Language and Culture course options

Dr. Andrea Purdy and Olaf Morales

LSPA 251 Language and Culture for Education Abroad (3 credits)
This class supports those students at a 100-300 level of Spanish level study. No prior study of the Spanish language is required to enroll in this course.

LSPA 495 Independent Study-Spanish (3 credits)
This class supports those students who are at the 400 level of Spanish language study or those who have taken at least one 300-level Spanish class.

Heritage Speakers
Those students who informally learned the Spanish language because of exposure growing up or at home, and who are looking to earn academic credit for a Spanish language course, will need to take a Spanish Language Placement Test through CSU. The placement test will identify student Spanish language competency so they can enroll in the course that best fits their ability.

ART 324 Study Abroad – Mexico: Art Meets Environment

3 credits
Erika Osborne

This course is a field-based, studio-art course that explores the intersection of visual arts, community and environment in Baja California Sur through direct experience, creative practice, collaborative processes and contemporary and historical art theory.

E 306A Study Abroad – Mexico: Writing Stories of Community in Todos Santos

3 credits
Dr. Sue Doe and Dr. Tobi Jacobi

This English course focuses on collaborative, community-centered writing and public engagement grounded in literacy and autoethnographic theory and our lived experiences. E306A partners with a diverse set of community members in Todos Santos with a goal of ethical and reflective storytelling that features sustainable relationships between CSU students and priorities of local citizens.

Photos from the Fall 2021 Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts semester at the CSU Todos Santos Center. Photos by Dani Castillo.

About Todos Santos, Mexico

Todos Santos is located in beautiful Baja California Sur, just an hour north of Cabo San Lucas. Students will enjoy this quiet town, situated just a mile from beaches on the Pacific Ocean, and about an hour from the state capital La Paz.

The village of Todos Santos is a small, vibrant community where visitors feel at home relatively quickly. Students enjoy the ocean and sun during their time in Todos Santos, as well as the opportunity to give back and have an impact through intentional projects and experiences that supplement program academics. Despite the smaller population of 7,000-9,000 residents, Todos Santos is quite international and multicultural attracting those individuals who are looking for a slower-paced lifestyle. The tight knit community of Todos Santos looks forward to welcoming CSU students to the area every year.

Students from CSU Fort Collins, CSU Pueblo can apply by April 15.