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Course Descriptions

GCOS 110 Latin American Studies Seminar (3 required units, fall semester)

The Latin American Studies Seminar is a three-unit course required in the fall semester of the Foundation Year. The goal of this seminar is to introduce students to the history and geography of the region; to examine current social, economic, political and environmental issues affecting Latin America; to explore different responses to these issues; and to assess in what ways these regional issues are manifestations of larger global issues. Short field trips in Costa Rica and a trip to another Central American country will allow students to gain a more specific, thorough, and intimate perspective by means of greater firsthand experience with some of these issues. Among the topics covered are colonialism and imperialism; resistance and revolution; poverty and migration; development and conservation; art and popular culture; and race, class, ethnicity, and gender.

GCOS 112 Introduction to Global Studies (3 required units, spring semester)

The Introduction to Global Studies Seminar is a 3-unit course required in the spring semester of freshman year. The course introduces students to major global issues and the multidimensional phenomenon of globalization, with an emphasis on Latin America for concrete examples.  The major global issues covered in the Seminar include 1) culture: the psychic unity of humanity and cultural diversity, 2) economics: poverty and development, 3) nature: environmental degradation and conservation, 4) politics: power and participation, and 5) epistemology: ideology and perspectives.  We will study Globalization as a common thread that encompasses the expansion and intensification of major global issues.  Students will experience many of these issues firsthand by means of a short field trip in Costa Rica, a trip to another Central American country, as well as participation in the Model UN Conference sponsored by the University for Peace and through independent research projects.  In this course students will become aware of the challenges and opportunities that global issues and globalization present, and will be able to better understand and appreciate local responses and alternative perspectives to these issues. 

GCOS 130 Foundation Year Orientation Seminar (3 required units, fall semester)

This seminar introduces Foundation Year students to the program’s theoretical foundations and practices, and provides students with concrete tools and skills to begin their studies in this international, experiential program. In the fall semester, students explore issues and expectations associated with being an LIU Global student, initially including an examination of experiential education theory, the program’s mission in practice, as well as health and safety issues.  This seminar's main goals are to create an educational context, both in and outside of the classroom; to discover and discuss new relevant insights regarding educational approaches and learning; to understand their development as LIU Global students and to access support resources; to reflect on cross-cultural adaptation and intercultural understanding in Costa Rica; and to teach students how to stay healthy and safe while abroad. Students develop and carry out a week-long group service learning project to have first-hand experiences related to the content and issues examined in the seminar.

GCOS 146 Field Work and Methods Seminar and Project  (4 required units, spring semester)

This is a required course which introduces students to methodological approaches we commonly think of as qualitative, with special emphases on interview-based research, ethnography, and comparative research. The course will cover the basic techniques for collecting, interpreting, and analyzing qualitative data. Throughout the semester, the course will operate on two interrelated dimensions, one focused on the theoretical approaches to various types of qualitative research, and the other focused on the practical techniques of data collection, such as identifying key informants, collecting field notes, analyzing data, writing, and presenting findings. The course is intended to prepare students for a two-week field project in which students will be able to apply field work methods, examine theory in practice, explore areas of academic interests and identify new ones, and write a research paper that combines this with academic secondary sources. By the end of the semester students will (1) be familiar with research methods utilized by social scientists to examine and explain the complexities of the social world; and (2) be able to design, implement analyze and document their social research. 

GCOS 150 Global Environmental Issues and Latin America Seminar (3 required units, fall semester)

This three-unit required seminar addresses the Latin American environmental situation in the global context. Participants learn how Latin America is contributing to and is being affected by the most pressing environmental global issues. The main regional policies and grassroots actions to respond to the regional environmental issues will be studied, including indigenous peoples’ strategies. Possible topics include: global and regional indicators of climate change, pollution, loss of habitat and cultural diversity, extinction of species, water scarcity, alternative agriculture, solid waste management, ecological restoration and sustainability. These subjects are covered during field trips and class sessions in Costa Rica with the participation of local experts and environmental leaders.

GCOS 153 Introduction to Global Environmental Issues and Latin America Seminar (2 elective units for visiting students only, fall semester)

This two-unit elective seminar addresses the Latin American environmental situation in the global context. This course is essentially a version of GCOS 150 with modified requirements for visiting students only. Participants learn how Latin America is contributing to and is being affected by the most pressing environmental global issues. The main regional policies and grassroots actions to respond to the regional environmental issues will be studied, including indigenous peoples’ strategies. Possible topics include: global and regional indicators of climate change, pollution, loss of habitat and cultural diversity, extinction of species, water scarcity, alternative agriculture, solid waste management, ecological restoration and sustainability. These subjects are covered during field trips and class sessions in Costa Rica with the participation of local experts and environmental leaders.

GCOS 154 Contemporary Indigenous Peoples in Latin America (3 elective units, spring semester)

This three-unit elective seminar addresses the most urgent issues in the agenda of the Latin American Indigenous Peoples Movement and its relationship with global trends.   The Seminar explores the thoughts and experiences of various indigenous peoples of Costa Rica and another Central American country, in the context of the present political situations in those countries. A set of readings covers aspects related to global related issues, indigenous struggles, nature, intercultural education, international legislation, market economy, tourism, and power relations.  A Seminar reader, internet research, interviews, direct observations, collective discussions, personal reflections, and academic documentation are the main resources for learning. 

GCOS 155 Introduction to Contemporary Indigenous Peoples in Latin America (2 elective units, spring semester)

This two-unit elective seminar addresses the most urgent issues in the agenda of the Latin American Indigenous Peoples Movement and its relationship with global trends.   This course is essentially a version of GCOS 154 with modified requirements. The Seminar explores the thoughts and experiences of various indigenous peoples of Costa Rica and another Central American country, in the context of the present political situations in those countries. A set of readings covers aspects related to global related issues, indigenous struggles, nature, intercultural education, international legislation, market economy, tourism, and power relations.  A Seminar reader, internet research, interviews, direct observations, collective discussions, personal reflections, and academic documentation are the main resources for learning. 

GCOS 170 Writing, Research and Documentation Seminar (3 required units, fall semester)

This course helps students develop their academic writing skills, including conducting library and electronic research, exploring and organizing ideas, using and integrating different sources, improving writing mechanics, correctly citing bibliographic references, providing support for arguments, and assessing and editing their own work and that of their peers. Through frequent short writing exercises in and out of class students learn to use writing as a practical and familiar personal tool for discovering and clarifying ideas. Research projects involving group activities as well as personal intellectual inquiry lead to polished pieces for the semester portfolio.

GCOS 173 Writing the College Essay Workshop (3 units, spring semester, students must choose between this course or Globalization in Contemporary World Fiction)

This is a writing workshop with two main purposes: to hone the skills needed to produce college level academic essays based on evidence and logic, and to make writing a familiar and comfortable tool for students’ investigation and self-expression. Students in the writing course will write some essays about topics covered in other courses to deepen their understanding of global issues. Students will participate in weekly workshop sessions, guided by the instructor, in which they will receive constructive, collaborative critique from their classmates. This peer feedback will help students write informed revisions of their work and support their active commitment to improve. The class is based on the idea of writing as a process and supports the development of critical reading, thinking, and writing skills.

GCOS 174 Globalization in Contemporary World Fiction (2 elective units, spring semester)

The goal of this two-unit course is to gain a deeper understanding of the processes of globalization by reading what important writers from around the world have said about the subject. We will read work by some of the major scholars who have contributed to the debates about globalization. These writings will provide the framework for our consideration of recent novels and stories from India, China, the Middle East, and the United States. We will explore how the globalization phenomenon is experienced on a human level in various cultures. For students taking the course for two hours, the requirements are: weekly written responses to the reading assignments, two analytic essays, oral presentations, and active class participation.

GCOS 175 Globalization in Contemporary World Fiction, Intensive (3 units, spring semester, students must choose between this course or Writing the College Essay Workshop)

The goal of this three-unit course is to gain a deeper understanding of the processes of globalization by reading what important writers from around the world have said about the subject. We will read work by some of the major scholars who have contributed to the debates about globalization. These writings will provide the framework for our consideration of recent novels and stories from India, China, the Middle East and the United States. We will explore how the globalization phenomenon is experienced on a human level in various cultures. The course requirements are: weekly written responses to the reading assignments, two analytic essays, oral presentations, and active class participation. This course is essentially a version of GCOS 174 with additional requirements. Students taking this intensive course are also expected to write a research paper and read and report on two additional novels.

Spanish Language 4 required units, fall semester; 4 required units, spring semester

Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Spanish language courses are taught each semester in Costa Rica. Students are required to take a four-unit language course in the fall and spring semesters.

GCOS 120 Beginner Spanish (4 required units, fall semester)

Spanish classes for beginners have the goals of forming basic oral and written communication skills, as well as introducing the students to Latin culture. To achieve these goals, the students meet four times a week and also complete daily assignments, participate in field activities, live with a Costa Rican family, and interact daily with Spanish-speaking people.

GCOS 121 Beginner Spanish (4 required units, spring semester)

Spanish classes for beginners have the goals of forming basic oral and written communication skills, as well as introducing the students to Latin culture. To achieve these goals, the students meet four times a week and also complete daily assignments, participate in field activities, live with a Costa Rican family, and interact daily with Spanish-speaking people.

GCOS 220 Intermediate Spanish (4 required units, fall semester)

Spanish classes for intermediate students have the goals of improving oral and written communication skills already acquired and learning about Latin culture. To achieve these goals, students meet four times a week and also participate in field activities, complete daily assignments, live with a Costa Rican family, and interact daily with Spanish-speaking people.

GCOS 221 Intermediate Spanish (4 required units, spring semester)

Spanish classes for intermediate students have the goals of improving oral and written communication skills already acquired and learning about Latin culture. To achieve these goals, students meet four times a week and also participate in field activities, complete daily assignments, live with a Costa Rican family, and interact daily with Spanish-speaking people.

GCOS 320 Advanced Spanish (4 required units, fall semester)

Spanish classes for advanced students have the goals of improving specific oral and written communication skills based on individual needs at the appropriate level. The students attend class, complete weekly assignments, live with a Costa Rican family, interact daily with Spanish-speaking people, and write about weekly readings related to topics of interest or Latin American literature.

GCOS 321 Advanced Spanish (4 required units, spring semester)

Spanish classes for advanced students have the goals of improving specific oral and written communication skills based on individual needs at the appropriate level. The students attend class, complete weekly assignments, live with a Costa Rican family, interact daily with Spanish-speaking people, and write about weekly readings related to topics of interest or Latin American literature.

GCOS 301, GCOS 302, GCOS 303, & GCOS 304 Advanced Spanish Independent Study (1-5 elective units)

These are independent study options for advanced Spanish students, students who are not registered in a regular Spanish course, or students who want to do more intensive language study in addition to the regular Spanish course. Students may focus independent study courses on advanced reading and writing, Latin American Literature, advanced grammar studies, Latin American music, among other subjects. In the fall semester, this course is an option only for those in the Advanced C level. In the spring semester, this is an option for any advanced level student. All Spanish independent study courses must be approved by the Spanish Coordinator. 45 hours per credit.

GCOS 190-199 Independent Study, Freshman (1-3 units, fall and spring semesters, by approval only)
GCOS 290-299 Independent Study, Sophomore (1-3 units, fall and spring semesters)
GCOS 390-399 Independent Study, Junior (1-4 units, fall and spring semesters)
GCOS 490-499 Independent Study, Senior (1-5 units, fall and spring semesters)

Students have the opportunity to conduct an independent study with guidance from their faculty advisor which must be approved to make sure it meets academic, health and safety criteria. The advisor and the student develop a learning plan for the semester and regular meetings take place to discuss the student’s project. Students are expected to hand in written work on a regular basis. Students may not repeat the same course number for credit either in the same or in a different semester. Expected total course hours (activities and individual study and documentation): 45 hours per credit.