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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 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 August 2015) 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 2015 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
  • Homestay including your own room, home-cooked meals, and laundry
  • Food allowance for when you are away from home
  • All costs for field trips and group excursions
  • Round trip airfare from Grand Rapids, MI (if leaving from a different location, students will pay the difference in ticket price)
  • Administration
  • All costs for field trips and group excursions
  • Round trip airfare from Grand Rapids (if leaving from a different location, students will pay the difference in ticket price)

    Guest students should inquire with their off-campus department for cost information

Additional expenses not included in the program fee: passport, textbooks, 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.


Students live in Santa Lucía, a beautiful mountain town 20 minutes outside of Honduras’ capital, Tegucigalpa. Each student is matched with a Honduran host family, and much of what you’ll learn about Honduran family life and culture will come from them.

Honduran families can be large, and multiple generations frequently live under one roof, giving you a unique chance to interact with people you wouldn’t meet at the university. Help your mamá prepare traditional food, practice Spanish with your abuelo, or kick a soccer ball around the local park with your younger siblings.

Whatever your experience, many students say that staying with a host family is one of the most rewarding parts of their semester.


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

The approximate semester dates for Fall 2015 (including the optional 2-week internship) will be late August through mid-December.

You and the rest of your group will study at the Universidad Pedagógica in downtown Tegucigalpa with Calvin professors who have made Honduras their home for over 20 years and are deeply immersed in Honduran life. Each student will earn 15 credits of coursework for the semester in the following classes:

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. Topics include: the history and culture of Honduras, justice in education, and economic justice. 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. Topics include: corruption, security, international role in development, business and microenterprise, democracy and government, vulnerable groups, and health. 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. Topics include gangs and crime, short-term missions, adoption, immigration, human trafficking, justice and faith. 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. Advanced students may enroll directly in one class at the Pedagogica. 3 Semester Hours, Global Historical

Course 5 is a 2-week practicum:

Course 5 - STHO 280: Honduras Dev. Practicum

At the end of your semester, you have the opportunity to spend two weeks with a community development organization doing a personalized, independent project of your choice. This hands-on practicum placement involves a research and presentation component. Previous students have taught in schools and orphanages, studied the methods of coffee farmers, and conducted surveys for international NGOs. Find a placement in law, biology, or wherever your career might lead you. This is a fantastic opportunity to put a semester’s worth of learning into action.

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


Santa Lucia

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.


There’s a lot you can’t learn in a classroom. That’s why every topic includes a visit to see how it plays out in the real world. Some of the highlights include:

A week-long trip to the north of Honduras where you’ll see the incredible Copán ruins, visit a banana plantation, and tour a garment factory where many U.S.-bound clothes are made.

A four-day trip to rural Honduras, where you’ll see how coffee goes from plant to cup. Hear from subsistence farmers first-hand as they face ecological and economic challenges.

Day trips to

  • the U.S. embassy, where you’ll learn how the United States’ foreign policy influences Honduras
  • the Honduran Congress, to learn from their democratic system
  • a local school to study the education system
  • an orphanage to witness first-hand how a vulnerable population lives
  • a local hospital to see how health care functions in a developing country
  • community groups and local organizations
  • and lots more.