Liberal Arts students can spend a semester at CSU’s Todos Santos Center in Mexico

CSU Todos Santos Center in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Photo by Ruth Alexander.
CSU Todos Santos Center in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Photo by Ruth Alexander.

For the first time in the Fall of 2019, students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a new culture, lifestyle, and community at the CSU Todos Santos Center in Baja California Sur, Mexico. The semester-long education abroad program, Liberal Arts and Community Engagement, is designed to help students cultivate global connections and work with community partners on topics in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Earning 15 credits for the semester, students will be led by CSU professors in several different liberal arts courses – Art and Art History, English, Ethnic Studies, History, and Spanish – while also engaging with the community of Todos Santos.

Students will learn about the history of the area and immerse themselves in a new culture to create long-lasting relationships with the people of and around the Center.

Liberal Arts and Community Engagement is one of only two semester-long programs offered at the Todos Santos Center. “We felt that the College of Liberal Arts could offer a unique program to engage with the community that prides itself so much on history, community, arts, and people who call Baja California Sur home,” said Roze Hentschell, associate dean for undergraduate students.

Overview of the academic program

Environment around the Todos Santos Center
Photo by Ruth Alexander.

For the first seven weeks of the semester, students will study Spanish in an online course to gain better fluency and prepare them for their semester in Mexico (taking their course from wherever they are living at the time). The Language and Culture of Education Abroad class is designed to target the needs of individual students, from beginners to experts, based on their prior experience with the language.

On week eight, students depart to the Todos Santos Center for the remainder of the semester. While in Mexico, students will have continuous access to CSU faculty and mentors to guide them through this new, unique educational experience.

Andrea Purdy, special assistant professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, will be at the Center throughout the semester as the Spanish language instructor and program manager, offering support and language assistance.

The remaining four classes will be taught in a two-week intensive block throughout the semester.

  • ESTS 382B – Latinx Creative Expression (3 credits)
  • HIST 382D – History, Community, and Environment (3 credits)
  • E 382C – Writing the Stories of Community in Mexico (3 credits)
  • ART 382 A – Art Meets the Environment in Baja California Sur (3 credits)
Buiilding on CSU Todos Santos campus
Photo by Roze Hentschell.

Students’ coursework will be enhanced through community engagement opportunities and visits to various locations in Baja California Sur, Mexico. By studying the processes of identity formation and change in the local community, and the creation of oral and written histories in collaboration with the public, students will have many opportunities to interact with the Todos Santos community.

For their final course, students will embark on a three-day camping trip to the Sierra de la Laguna mountains, studying the ecology of the region to help better understand the issues facing  this UNESCO protected biosphere. They will create a collaborative art piece that addresses this mountain range and the significant role it plays in the lives of the people of Baja California Sur.

Along with their academics, students will have the opportunity to take field trips offered by the Center – like surfing lessons or hiking through different mountain trails in the backyard of Todos Santos.

The CSU Todos Santos Center

Baja California Sur, Mexico is a 2.5-hour plane flight away in the same time zone as Colorado. The Todos Santos Center itself is three miles from the beach and bordering 30 or more miles of mountains.

Students and faculty live at the Center for the entirety of their stay in dorm-like apartment rooms. Both breakfast and lunch will be served at the Center, with students on their own for dinner to cook in the kitchen or eat in town.

To learn more about this brand-new education abroad opportunity,

Attend the information session on Feb. 7 at noon in the Lory Student Center, room 312.

To apply for the Liberal Arts and Community Engagement education abroad program,

Note: The Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts Education Abroad Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship for eligible interdisciplinary liberal arts majors. Learn more.


Headshot of Roze Hentschell

Dr. Roze Hentschell, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Students

“The vision for this program is built on access.

I want students who may not necessarily have seen themselves studying abroad to know that they have a program that will make that dream within reach.

The focus on community engagement was important to the vision: we want students to engage meaningfully in the community and have an opportunity to work with community partners that have welcomed our focus on arts, humanities, and social science.”

Maricela de Mirjyn

Dr. Maricela DeMirjyn, Associate Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies

ETST 382B- Study Abroad: Latinx Creative Expression (3 credits)

“The opportunity to participate in the CLA Todos Santos Study Abroad program allows students interested in Ethnic Studies to see firsthand the ways in which cultural border crossings occur. As a faculty member who specializes in Chicanx and Latinx Studies, I am pleased that this collaborative study abroad program promotes new avenues for working with communities and peoples of Mexican descent. Of particular interest to me is the ability to work with a local nonprofit organization working to reintroduce cultural traditions related to Dia de los Muertos in the community of Todos Santos and surrounding region.

Meanwhile, the program provides students with the chance to engage in dialogues about building relationships between the U.S. and Mexico as opposed to tearing them down. I believe the overall experience will be invaluable to our students.”

Ruth Alexander

Dr. Ruth Alexander, Professor of History, Department of History

HIST 382D – History, Community, and Environment (3 credits)

“I am really excited about the opportunity to participate in the CLA’s program at Todos Santos, Mexico, in Fall 2019. The program will allow me to teach a course in which my students and I will learn about the history, community, and environment of Todos Santos by interacting closely with people who live and work there.

Our days will be filled with site visits and meetings with community members. We will conduct oral history interviews with local students and educators, with ranchers and conservationists, with leaders and staff in cultural organizations.

Our emphasis will be on collaborative learning, gaining insight into Todos Santos and Baja California Sur, past and present. By extension, and through reflection and comparison, we will also gain deeper understanding of the United States’ culture and history.

My colleagues (other professors in the CLA) will draw students into further collaborative learning about Todos Santos and the surrounding area through inquiries in ethnic studies, literary expression, art and the environment. The CLA’s program at Todos Santos is designed to give students and faculty a novel opportunity to engage in intensive field-based learning in an international setting, and I expect it to be enormously rewarding.”

Sue Doe

Dr. Sue Doe, Associate Professor and Director of Composition, Department of English

E 382C – Writing the Stories of Community in Mexico (3 credits)

“I can hardly wait to participate in the CLA’s program at Todos Santos, Mexico, in Fall 2019. Working with community members, we will move oral histories (collected earlier in the term) into written forms that honor the histories, stories, and traditional ways of the people of Todos Santos–people whose families have lived in the area for generations.

Living and learning together at this beautiful site, we will immerse ourselves in environment and culture in order to deepen our appreciation for people, place, and connections between the two. As we learn from each other and from those who live in the area, we will carefully curate the oral histories into various written forms (genres and designs) that demonstrate respect for traditional practices. With gratitude, and reflecting the wishes and input of Todos Santos residents, our writing of these documents will culminate in an exhibit or performance for members of the community that have so generously shared with us. Through such methods, we will expand our sense of the world and its people, deepening also our understanding of United States’ culture and history.

Perhaps most importantly, we will enjoy the gift of time spent together studying, thinking, reading, writing, talking, and creating—in one of the world’s most beautiful places. The intensive nature of the program virtually guarantees that we will share both work and play as well as both excitement and exhaustion. We will live and learn deeply and well!”

Erika Osborne

Erika Osborne, Associate Professor, Department of Art and Art History

ART 382 A – Art Meets the Environment in Baja California Sur (3 credits)

“I was attracted to the CLA Liberal Art and Community Engagement program in Todos Santos because it felt like a real opportunity to give students a truly place-based education in a region of the world that is environmentally and culturally rich. The experiential learning that will take place as students engage with the community, the environment, and each other will no doubt stay with them for years to come.

Because I have run field programs for artists and students in the past, I know how life-changing experiences like this can be. As an educator, I also learn, and I adapt my teaching style, and even the cache of knowledge I bring with me, to a unique group of students in a unique place.

It is my hope that we will all come away from the experience with an evolved sense of understanding for the similarities and differences between ourselves and the communities and environments of Baja California Sur and that we will have new academic tools that we can use to engage other environments and communities in similar ways.”

Andrea Purdy

Dr. Andrea Purdy, Special Assistant Professor, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

LSPA 251 – Language and Culture for Education Abroad (3 credits)

“I have been involved in one form or another with Todos Santos for quite a while.  I have seen the Todos Santos Center grow from a few impactful programs from CVMBS and the Warner College to a bustling Center that remains committed to service, outreach, and education for all.

As the program manager and Spanish language instructor, I am fortunate to spend an extended period in Todos Santos, nine weeks, in this unique, transformative opportunity for students and faculty to live and engage with the community and surroundings of Todos Santos. To be working alongside some of the most dedicated and creative faculty members from the College of Liberal Arts and Office of International Programs, along with the amazing staff at the Todos Santos Center, that I consider “amigos del corazón,” is truly a blessing.

My heart overflows with gratitude at the chance to teach about and to go back to the country where I was born so that we may together explore and learn about a small portion of the history and culture that Mexico has to offer. It is an honor and a privilege to be included in this opportunity to accompany CLA faculty and students for this newly created Liberal Arts and Community Engagement semester program. Come explore, share and learn with CLA!”