Service Learning

Winter: Rutgers- Empowerment through Community Engagement in the Yucatan

Merida, Mexico

Program Overview

Term Start Date End Date Application Deadline
Winter 2025
Jan 06, 2025
Jan 17, 2025
Oct 01, 2024
Language(s) of Instruction
Class Standing
Good Academic Standing
Program Type
Service Learning


Program Advisor

The Program

Stunning wildlife and impressive Mayan ruins surround you as you explore diverse research practices, participate in immersive and demanding fieldwork to enrich the local community, and develop your knowledge of social work and community building from experts in the field.

Learn about community-based social work practices that help meet the needs of vulnerable and under served populations in Yucatán, Mexico. Hear from professional social workers and professors about the challenges and benefits of community-based approaches to empowerment and development. Engage with social workers and clients in a variety of health and social welfare settings.





Program Location



The tranquil, colonial city of Mérida is a wonderful blend of Mayan, Hispanic, and modern-day Mexican cultures--not to mention colorful birds, wily geckos, and bejeweled beetles. Merida is the capital of the Yucatán, and home to the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán, which will host this program.  Mérida also has a vivid cultural life of theater, dance, music, street festivals, sports, and folklore.



To view the syllabus for this program, please click here. Please note this is a sample syllabus, all of its content is subject to change.

This course provides students with the historical and current information on vulnerable populations in the Yucatán and the education and practice of social work in Mexico.  The course of study and service learning will emphasize knowledge and skill-building in community engagement and development that is specific to social work practice in Mexico, specifically, and Latin America, more broadly.  Community development and empowerment for addressing discrimination and oppression is a special strength of social work in Spanish-speaking countries in contrast to US models that emphasize more individualistic approaches to problem-solving. Comparative research on the efficacy of different models will be explored. Lectures from Social Work faculty at UADY, field visits and international service learning opportunities will engage students directly with clients, faculty, students and practitioners in public and private social services agencies, local traditional healers and religious community groups. 

For information about study abroad credit transfer, registration, and transcripts please visit the Academics section of our website.

Visits to sites of cultural and ecological relevance will be incorporated into the program itinerary to give students an introduction to the unique cultural and biological landscape of the Yucatán.  Planned excursions include the ancient Mayan city of Uxmal and the Celestún Biosphere Reserve.


Academic Calendar

*All dates are subject to change. Do not book your flight until you have been accepted by the university and the academic dates have been confirmed.


Early January

Late January

Housing and Meals

Students will be hosted at the Hotel El Castellano in double rooms. Breakfast is included every morning in the hotel. Group lunches will be provided for all participants during the two excursions; students will be responsible for purchasing the remainder of their meals in-country during the program.


Financial Information

Program Costs

This is the billed amount that will appear on your Rutgers term bill during the term you study abroad.
Program Cost NJ Resident non-NJ Resident
Undergraduate $3,520 $3,930
Graduate $3,780 $4,170
Program Cost includes:

•    Tuition
•    Some meals
•    Housing
•    Excursions
•    In-country transportation
•    Administrative Fees
•    Emergency Medical Access Abroad

* The winter session student fee is not included in the program cost above.

Out-of-Pocket Costs

These are estimated expenses that are not part of your term bill. Students will need to pay for these expenses out-of-pocket.
Airfare $800
Additional Meals $150
Personal Expenses $100
Total $1,050.00
Out-of-Pocket Cost includes:

The above costs are estimations and represent the known out-of-pocket costs students encounter during their time abroad. 
Some of these expenses will be paid for prior to going abroad, such as an airline ticket and visa costs, while some of these expenses, such as meals and local transportation, will be paid in-country as part of your daily expenses. As you plan, you will need to budget these costs and spend wisely throughout your time abroad.


Available to all Rutgers students participating in a Rutgers Global–Study Abroad program. Applications can be found inside of your study abroad program application. For more information, please visit the Scholarship section of our website.


Faculty Leaders

Rebecca Davis

Dr. Davis is a professor in the School of Social Work, and also directs the School’s Office of Global Programs.  Her focus on international social work began with a Fulbright to teach social work practices in Romania, where she resided for a decade engaged in child welfare reform before serving as a consultant and project manager for various NGOs and social welfare organizations.  In addition to her specialization in Central and Eastern Europe, her research in international and comparative social work and development takes her to countries in Africa and East Asia.

Adrienne Sherman

“My most recent study abroad trip to Merida, Mexico has without a doubt been the most eye opening experience so far. I have previously participated in two other short-term study abroad programs, but this most recent trip has had the most profound effect on me. Since my family is from Mexico, I was really motivated to get in touch with my culture and my ancestry, and I was able to do that through this trip. My favorite moment was visiting the ancient Mayan ruins of Uxmal. This had the most significant effect on me by far. It was an indescribable feeling being able to stand where my ancestors had once stood thousands of years ago. I was also amazed at how well the site had been maintained and the fact that 75% of the ruins were in their original, untouched form.”