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Semester Programs: Justice Studies in Honduras

Students from all majors are invited to the Justice Studies in Honduras semester, offered through Calvin College’s off-campus programs.

Whether through an interview with a worker in a garment factory or a lecture from one of Honduras’ top politicians, this semester will open your eyes to a new way of thinking about justice: as something that’s possible.

Earn 15 credits of coursework in community development and Honduran culture, taught by professors who live out what they’re teaching. Choose a two-week practicum where you work with an organization of your choice. Learn Spanish by speaking Spanish, even if you haven’t taken much before.

In Honduras, you’ll stay with host families in the beautiful town of Santa Lucía, just outside the capital, Tegucigalpa. You may learn to cook traditional food, play soccer with your younger siblings, or hear traditional stories from your abuelo. Whatever your experience, many students say staying with a host family is one of the most rewarding parts of their semester.

In coffee fields and subsistence farms, in embassies and Congress, don’t just learn about a developing country: learn from one. Come together with people who share your passions and see how you can be part of the solution.

Honduras: What Are You Looking For?

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If you are interested in this program, please read this important open letter (updated July 2014) about student safety in Honduras.


You must have a 2.5 grade point average and be of sophomore status to participate in the justice studies program in Honduras. Preference will be given to juniors and seniors for the program.


The Fall 2014 program cost is expected to be within $1000 of Calvin tuition and room and board on campus. Final cost will be dependent on the number of students participating. More specific cost information will be sent with your acceptance letter. The cost includes:

  • Tuition
  • Room
  • Food allowance
  • Administration
  • Field trips
  • Round trip airfare from Grand Rapids

Additional expenses not included in the program fee: passport, books, immunizations and medical insurance (required), personal travel expenses and spending money. Make sure that your passport is up-to-date and will not expire any time in the next year. Note that Honduras is an inexpensive country for visitors with dollars, so an extra $100 to $150 per month should provide plenty of spending money.


You will live with a Honduran family in San Lucia, a beautiful town in the mountains 20 minutes outside of Tegucigalpa. Fluency in Spanish is not required for this experience.


By studying in Honduras you will fulfill your cross cultural engagement core requirement.

The approximate semester dates for Fall 2014 (including the optional 2-week internship) will be late August through mid-December.

You will take the following courses in succession:

Course 1 - STHO 210: Exploring a Third World Society
This course offers Honduras' unique history, economics and politics as a window on the third world.  Frequent seminars will provide an opportunity to interact with leading Honduran politicians, economists, historians, and sociologists. 3 semester hours, global and historical studies core, CCE core
Course 2 - STHO 211: The Problem of Poverty
This course analyzes development theories and major issues such as population and environment that come into play when attempting to develop impoverished areas. The class will also include frank discussions about how Christian values can shape development theory. This course with STHO 212 (below) gives 3 semester hours for the societal structures core in sociology and 3 semester hours for an elective credit in economics.
Course 3 - STHO 212: Development Theory in Practice
This course provides an in-depth analysis of  third world development. Guest speakers from leading Christian and non-Christian organizations present honest appraisals of their work and students spend a week sharing life with real Hondurans and studying the impact development organizations have had in the community. See above

Course 4 is a Spanish class you choose and is taught by Honduran teachers:

Course 4 - SPAN xxx: Spanish Language Study
Each student will take at least one Spanish class (beginning, intermediate, or advanced Latin America literature or culture). The classes are taught by highly skilled Honduran teachers using Calvin College's Spanish curriculum. 3 Semester Hours, Global Historical

Course 5 is a 2-week practicum:

Course 5 - STHO 280: Honduras Dev. Practicum
Students will be placed in a community development organization (minimum of 80 hours) in Honduras to gain hands-on experience related to specific development topics (e.g. micro-enterprise and business development, education, agriculture, health, peace and justice). Through the practicum experience, students will gain a better understanding of the day-to-day work of development practitioners.  In addition, students will develop and implement a research project related to the organization, utilizing such skills as participative investigation, proposal writing, program evaluation and report writing. 2 semester hours


To apply for the program, please follow the directions to apply through our Horizons online system at this link.

Guest students may apply for this program.


Program Director
Professor Kurt VerBeek, sociology



Location: Students will stay 20 minutes outside of Tegucigalpa with Honduran families in the beautiful town of Santa Lucia. Tegucigalpa is in southern Honduras and surrounded by a chain of mountains, with the Choluteca River running through it from north to south.

History: Founded as a Spanish settlement on September 29, 1578, it became the permanent capital of Honduras in 1880. Originally known for its silver and gold mining industries. Tegucigalpa gets its name from the phrase "silver mountain" in the ancient Nahuatl language.

Population: approx. 1.25 million

Weather: tropical climate, but because of altitude, more moderate, with average temperatures ranging from 66 degrees to 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Coolest in December and January, warmest and driest in March and April. Wettest during the hurricane season from June to November.