Children & Youth in Central America

Discipline: Politics and International Relations
Instructor: Cook
Credits: 3

Field Class: Belize Download Syllabus

This course will examine key issues affecting the well-being of children and youth in Central America. The interface of cultural values with dominant areas of social concern will be considered within the contexts of family, school, and community. Students will examine the major agents and processes of socialization and explore the theme of tradition versus change. Challenges and opportunities for children and youth in an era of rapid global change will be addressed, particularly as related to education and work force preparation. Particular attention will be given to gender issues, rural/urban differences, socio-economic factors, and ethnic variations within specific countries visited. Models of effective intervention for at-risk children and youth will be explored and critiqued, and factors promoting healthy psycho-social development will be identified. Research on risk and resilience will be integrated with content throughout the course. Students will have opportunities to observe and interact directly with children and youth from diverse cultures during field experiences.

Special Requirements:

One course in child development, adolescent development, or developmental psychology.

Field Class

Country: Belize

The Port Loyola Library in Belize City opened in 2002. The library is located in an underserved community, and the Sunrise Rotary Club has been highly involved in the development of resources for this facility. Upon arriving at the library, students will receive an orientation from a library representative regarding the role of the library in the community and strategies for meeting the needs of children and youth. Students will also learn about the array of services offered, use patterns, input from youth in the recent expansion, and future plans. Through a service activity, the class will contribute to the library operations while at the same time learning more about the collections and services. During lunch, students will share perceptions and raise issues based on their observations during the morning session. In the afternoon, students will meet with community youth in small groups and interview them regarding their perceived information needs and their views on the library's facilities, resources, and access. Following this interaction, the class will discuss the perspectives and ideas of youth and their specific identified needs and suggestions. Applying the principles of the $100 Solution methodology, a contribution will be made to the library that will address the expressed needs of children and youth during this field experience.