University of California, Irvine – Summer Session


Community and Planetary Health and Sustainability  in Guatemala in collaboration with SERES

Session 1: June 21 – July 25, 2016


Being an effective and impactful leader in today’s interconnected and interdependent world requires a deep understanding of how that world works, and how to successfully navigate it. Amongst the international educational community, there is growing recognition that knowledge alone is not enough, and that young people must also have the opportunity to develop the skills, attitudes and values that will enable them to step forward as the next generation of emerging leaders who will lead the transition towards a more just, healthy and sustainable future.

So where can you find that?

Through UCI’s new Community and Planetary Health and Sustainability program in Guatemala. The University of California, Irvine has joined together with SERES – a world leader in providing educational programs for sustainable development – to offer a transformational learning opportunity that allows you to make progress towards your degree as well as develop the practical experience that will help you step forward into a career of lifelong learning and leadership.

This summer, you can be a part of this inaugural program*, building your career while immersing yourself in the biological and cultural diversity of Guatemala. Join much-loved UCI faculty member, Dr. Mojgan Sami and SERES principal Corrina Grace as you journey from the UNESCO-listed colonial town of Antigua, to the breathtakingly beautiful Lake Atitlan and up into the Guatemalan highlands around Quetzaltenango for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

*These programs were piloted in Summer of 2015 by the Sustainability Initiative at UCI, as part of a co-curricular series of programs designed to catalyze a culture of sustainability on campus and beyond by training the next generation of sustainability leaders. To read more about these programs, visit the Sustainability Initiative website.

Why study in Guatemala?

International immersion experiences are powerful learning opportunities, but for many students are not always connected to the real-world context back home.

IMG_0290As the geographical gateway between Central America’s Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) and the US, Guatemala presents a rich and very relevant learning backdrop for students from the U.S. The country itself is one of stark juxtaposition. On one side it boasts a rich cultural heritage, claims one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and has a world-class information and telecommunications infrastructure. On the other, it has a long history of struggle with poverty, violence, malnutrition, health, education and environmental challenges. As global climate change continues to cause ever-worsening disruption and instability, neighbouring wealthier countries such as the USA will see growing population movements, as the southwestern border experienced during the 2014 immigration crisis. These growing numbers stand as a stark reminder to us of our increasingly interdependent and interconnected world, inviting us as to think beyond borders to consider our greater geopolitical context and globalized society, where issues of human security, sustainable development and global citizenship affect us all.

For young people studying to become the next generation of leaders, practitioners and experts, Guatemala provides the perfect backdrop for a truly intensive, experiential and transformational journey that will provide the foundation for lifelong learning.


Program Advantage

  • Earn UCI credits abroad
  • Hosted by SERES, a Guatemalan NGO that is a regional leader in sustainability education and who was recently awarded with UNESCO’s prize on Education for Sustainable Development
  • Have the opportunity to meet and share with young sustainability leaders from different settings and bridge across traditional boundaries (social, economic, cultural etc.), thinking through some of the biggest questions facing our region regarding community and planetary health
  • Develop an understand of the relationship between planetary health, community health and sustainability
  • Develop sustainability leadership skills (transformational leadership, facilitation, community visioning, action planning) while increasing your self-confidence and independence
  • Develop a support network and strong sense of community and solidarity with your peers.
  • Deepen your understanding of the relationship between sustainability and equity, and develop a critical lens on social justice, solidarity, south-north relationships
  • Develop stronger personal goals and values
  • Add valuable experiences to your resume
  • Full itinerary of field trips and co-curricular learning activities
  • No foreign language requirement

This program is open to:

  • UCI students and other university students worldwide who are at least 18 years of age
  • ALL majors
  • ALL continuing students, as well as freshmen, and summer and recent graduates*

*UCI alumni and community members may be eligible on a case-by-case basis. Contact

Enroll Now in the Community and Planetary Health and Sustainability Program in Guatemala

Review full trip itinerary here.