Upcoming Programs:

Costa Rica Intensive Spanish for Social Work Practice

Program Dates: Jan. 5 to Jan. 19, 2019
Credits: 3 undergraduate or graduate credits in Social Work or Criminal Justice
Instructors: Jeanne Wagner, Social Work Program

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This course will immerse students in the Spanish language and Latin culture of Central America where we will study conversational Spanish and culturally competent practice, in order to effectively serve Latino clients in Wisconsin. Students may earn 3 hours of undergraduate or graduate credit in Social Work or Criminal Justice during three weeks of study and service-learning in the small, friendly, historical town of Grecia, Costa Rica. Visit the Academia Centroamericana de Español website

Costa Rica Learn more about program structure, accommodations, and cost

Program Structure

In collaboration with an established Costa Rican Spanish language school, Academia Centroamericana de Español, this intensive language course accommodates each student’s current language skill level, ranging from beginner through advanced. Students will study with social work students and practitioners from across the U.S. during the two-week course, “Spanish for Social Workers,” a course that was developed in consultation with the California chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

The course consists of two weeks of classroom study, lectures by social work scholars, and visits to nearby social service agencies, as well as exquisite nature preserves and ecological tourist sites.


Costa Rica is hot and likely to be quite humid, which determines many of the local customs from the way homes and communities are laid-out to how people dress (modest, loose clothing). You will eat a lot of local shaved ice.

The Academia curriculum includes students living with “Tico” host families during our visit. All host families live within walking distance of the school. Families provide each student: a private room for study and sleep, laundry service, breakfast and supper each day. Family-style meals include typical Tico food (heavy on rice and beans), allowing you opportunities to engage in conversation, ask questions, and clarify understanding, all in Spanish, since “your family” is unlikely to understand English. Typically about 30 social work students are housed throughout Grecia.

The school has a computer lab including six computers with Internet access, and there are also several Internet cafes nearby. The school sells international telephone cards ($10) with which you can call the U.S. The school has a public restaurant on the main floor (which we use for breaks), tiny classrooms on the second floor, and a lecture hall on the lower level.


The Spanish classes are conducted in Spanish, and limited to two to four students at similar levels per teacher. Instruction takes place five days per week from 8 a.m. to Noon. Spanish is spoken throughout the day during all planned activities. Three different workbooks, specifically developed for this course, are provided. (Breaks are taken in mid-morning and mid-afternoon, with snacks, to keep us going.)

Lunch is on your own, and class resumes at 1:30. To complement our course, four lectures will address various current topics:

  • Costa Rica: An overview of the country and culture
  • Latino and Norteamericano cultures: similarities and differences
  • Social work in Costa Rica: Who does what, how, and where?
  • Increasing effectiveness with Latino clients

On four afternoons there are choices of cultural and recreational activities (Salsa dancing, cooking, and optional sight seeing, river rafting, zipline tours, etc.) The weekend offers some optional excursions, national parks and beaches, at an extra cost of $25-$200.

On two afternoons, field trips to two different social service agencies will allow us to engage informally with clients and practitioners, and observe some program activities. Sites visited may include: child welfare, residential care, domestic violence shelters, schools (K through higher education), addictions treatment, commodities distribution, and international relief organizations. Current social problems you may hear about: poverty, drug trafficking, illegal immigration (especially from Nicaragua), sex trafficking, growing international food shortages, the global debt crisis, sustainable environments, and the impacts of increasing “eco-tourism” and globalization on “tico” culture.

Evenings are free for study, socializing and “hanging out” in the Central Plaza (where most young people meet). Grecia has a thriving local central mercado, various restaurants, bars and coffee houses.


Attend all language class sessions, and participate in all conferences and site visits. A final paper is due after returning home.

A complete syllabus will be available before departure.


  • The cost is estimated to be $3,500-$3,700 and includes tuition, lodging, airfare, most meals and ground transportation.


If interested in the program, please contact Dr. Susan Rose or Jeanne Wagner. Or visit the Center for International Education Information.
Dr. Susan Rose
(414) 229-6301
Enderis Hall 1175
Jeanne Wagner, MSW, LCSW, ACSW
Clinical Associate Professor and Director of Social Work Field Education

Austria Summer Course in Social Work
and Criminal Justice

Program Dates: June 2-15, 2019
Credits: 3 undergraduate or graduate credits in Social Work or Criminal Justice
Instructors: Susan Rose

Program PDF

The University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria Summer course in Social Work and Criminal Justice is a two week intensive course of study in comparative social policy for which students can earn 3-6 hours of undergraduate credit in Social Work or Criminal Justice during the summer semester at UWM. Week 1: Attend an international conference of students from over 15 European countries; Week 2: Study social work and criminal justice policy and practice through lectures and site visits. Visit the Linz, Austria travel website

Austria Learn more about program structure, accommodations, and cost

Program Structure

The program consists of a combination of lectures by University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria School of Social Work faculty, contact with professionals in social work and criminal justice, and service site visits. Students may study in the areas of social work and/or criminal justice. Special emphasis will be on substance abuse, family counseling, child welfare, prisons, and policing. Within each of these broad areas, students will choose to focus on a particular topic in order to compare an aspect of the Austrian system to a comparable concept in the U.S. Students are required to attend all lectures, site visits, and construct a final project reflecting their work. The final project is due in August and will represent approximately 75% of the course grade.


Students are housed in the IBIS Hotel in Linz. The accommodations consist of a double sleeping room, with bed and desk for each student, and a private bathroom. Accommodations are on a direct transportation line to the university and to the city center. The city center is also within walking distance of shops, restaurants, pubs, book stores, antique stores, clothing stores, and parks. WiFi is available in the hotel lobby.


The two week course will focus on both social work and criminal justice perspectives in Austria. Most professionals in Austria are bilingual, so lectures will be in English. In addition, translators will be available at all the site visits to facilitate interaction with participants. Students will attend lectures by Austrian professionals and academics and visit a number of sites where they can interact with professionals in the field as well as some users of services. All students will hear lectures on European social policy, issues of immigration and crime, historical background on the Nazi era, and responses to family violence and substance abuse.

Site visits may include trips to an immigration center and refugee camp, a violence prevention center, a residential substance abuse facility, and Mauthausen (a former Nazi concentration death camp). Criminal justice sites include local police departments, Garsten prison, and a residential center for youth involved in the criminal justice system. The two weeks are full, but there is time built in for you to do a little touring. You will have one free weekend, so you can take advantage of day trips to Vienna, Salzburg, or the area around Linz.


The assignments for the course include attendance at two orientation meetings where students are expected to have done background reading and come prepared to discuss their area of anticipated study. They are then required to submit a 3-4 page concept paper, based on their reading and group discussion, before they depart. The purpose of this paper is to focus their reading, clarify their understanding of some of the key comparative issues, and prepare them for both the lectures and site visits they will have in Austria. This paper is graded before their departure, with suggestions for areas they should consider while in country.

During the two weeks the students are in Austria, they are expected to attend all lectures and site visits. Students are divided into concentration groups for some of the site visits. At each of the visits, students generally attend a presentation after which they will have an opportunity to interact either with service users and/or staff. Students are graded on their active participation in these lectures and site visits as well as on their final assignment. A UWM faculty advisor will attend the lectures and site visits and be responsible for grading concept papers and final papers. Papers are graded based on the adequacy of the research and a comparative analysis. A syllabus will be available before departure.


The cost is estimated to be $2,300-$2,700 and includes tuition, lodging, conference registration, and ground transportation. Airfare is not included, but many students have been able to get great deals by looking around and booking early. Students can apply for and use financial aid for the program. Scholarships are available for qualified undergraduate and graduate students.


If you are interested in participating in our Summer Study Abroad in Austria course, please attend one of several informational meetings that will be held during the first two weeks of the spring semester. Dates coming soon! All information sessions will be held in Enderis 1080. If interested in the program, but unable to attend these, please contact Dr. Susan Rose. Or visit the Center for International Education Information.
Dr. Susan Rose
(414) 229-6301
Enderis Hall 1175

Social Development Short Course in South Africa

Program Dates: July 15 to July 29, 2019
Credits: 3 credits undergrad or grad; Open to sophomore, junior and senior undergrads in any discipline
Instructors: Melinda Kavanaugh

Study at Stellenbosch University in South Africa

Upcoming information sessions:

• Monday, November 26, 4:00 p.m. (Garland Hall 104)
• Wednesday, November 28, 12:00 p.m. (Garland Hall 104)
• Thursday, November 29, 3:00 p.m. (Garland Hall 104)
• Friday, November 30, 12:00 p.m. (Garland Hall 104)
• Monday, December 3, 12:00 p.m. (Garland Hall 104)

South Africa Learn more about program structure, schedule, and cost

Program Structure

Course work taught by faculty in South Africa includes:

  • South African welfare policy
  • Role of community in social development
  • Cultural practices in health care
  • Mental health and substance abuse in South Africa
  • U.S. and South African social policy


Learn from the community in numerous field visits including:

  • Cape Town townships
  • Substance abuse centers
  • Health care
  • Community development
Visit cultural and historical centers in Cape Town:
  • District Six Museum
  • The Slave Lodge
  • Robben Island


Approximately $2,900 – $3,200 (plus airfare)


If you are interested in participating in our Summer Study Abroad course in South Africa, please attend one of several informational sessions. If interested in the program, but unable to attend these, please contact Dr. Melinda Kavanaugh.
Dr. Melinda Kavanaugh
Associate Professor
(414) 229-4414
Enderis Hall 1049