Department of Sociology and Anthropology to offer international field school in Dominican Republic

November 28, 2016 | Events, News, Research, UToday, Arts and Letters
By Josephine Schreiber

A new study abroad program will be offered next summer: Dr. Karie Peralta and Dr. Shahna Arps from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology will co-teach an international field school in the Dominican Republic.

“The purpose is to give students an experiential learning opportunity to develop their research skills and learn about Dominican culture and social life,” Peralta, assistant professor of sociology, said. “We will be collaborating with a community organization in the Dominican Republic to provide students a hands-on experience in participatory methods and fieldwork.”

Dr. Karie Peralta, left, and Dr. Shahna Arps conducted a workshop last summer in the Dominican Republic.

Dr. Karie Peralta, left, and Dr. Shahna Arps conducted a workshop last summer in the Dominican Republic.

The organization the program will work with, Project Esperanza, has the only grassroots bilingual school in the Dominican Republic. Participants in the program will help support the school by volunteering in the organization’s summer camp.

Students in the program will use the time facilitating activities throughout the camp to get to know the local children and become familiar with the challenges of learning in a school in a marginalized community.

“This will give students the chance to volunteer and also learn about the children’s lives and their living and educational conditions while participating in the summer camp,” Peralta said.

The students also will work with the organization to carry out a survey to gather information about the schoolchildren’s families and household demographics.

This Summer Session II program is a six-week course. The first two weeks will be spent preparing for the immersion component of the field school; the second two weeks will be held in the Dominican Republic; and the final two weeks students will analyze data collected and discussing what was learned while there.

This is a 4000-5000 level class (SOC4980/5980 or ANTH 4980/5980) and is open to students of all majors who are interested in advancing their research skills.

Peralta has 11 years of experience traveling to and from the Dominican Republic and spent some time as a Peace Corps volunteer there. She also managed a study abroad program prior to coming to UT.

Arps also has several years of experience in the Dominican Republic working with college student groups that carried out medical missions in the country.

Peralta and Arps traveled to the Dominican Republic last summer to plan the program and lay the foundation for field school activities. They also provided a two-day research training workshop to local youth who were going to carry out a survey about their community members’ interests in creating a public space.

Peralta encourages students to sign up for the program so they can apply their skills in an international setting.

“The students can get out of their comfort zone and push their own boundaries,” she said. “This will help them grow professionally and personally.”

An information session about the class will be held Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 3 p.m. in University Hall Room 4380.

To learn more about the class, click here.

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