Rutgers University has a strong relationship with Bolivia, a country of tremendous natural and cultural diversity. This diversity is marked by the fact that Bolivia, home to the largest indigenous population of any nation in the Americas, has many different languages officially recognized by its government, including Spanish, Aymara, and Quechua.
In the Department of Anthropology, Daniel Goldstein has conducted research since the early 1990s in Bolivia on topics of security, violence, and human rights. His work has been recognized by a number of national fellowships and awards, including (in 2010) the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council for Learned Societies.
The university’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) also coordinates a variety of activities related to Bolivia and is committed to expanding opportunities for students there. One of the best examples of this is the international service learning program based in the city of Cochabamba, the country’s third largest city. Goldstein, who began the program in 2008 in order to bridge the gap between classroom learning and service, runs the learning program in Bolivia. Each summer twelve Rutgers students travel to Bolivia to learn about law, justice, and human rights while performing community service work in indigenous urban neighborhoods. The students learn to use anthropological research methods while conducting their own research activities in the communities. Today the program stands as a model of how to combine academic work with community service to bring benefits to students and community members alike.
Rutgers’ faculty are actively engaged with their colleagues at the Fundación Pro Justicia. This Bolivian non-governmental organization is dedicated to expanding knowledge of human rights and achieving social justice among the marginalized urban poor of Cochabamba and elsewhere in Bolivia. The Fundación Pro Justicia collaborates with Rutgers in administering the summer study abroad program in Cochabamba. Another local partner is Bolivia Cultura, an organization that arranges home-stays, language classes, and volunteer service opportunities for Rutgers students and others who want to travel to Bolivia for living and learning experiences.