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Global Engagement Studies Institute in Bolivia

Global Engagement Studies Institute in Bolivia website  (map)

Sponsor: Northwestern University’s Buffett Institute for Global Studies and the Foundation for Sustainable Development

Location: Cochabamba, Bolivia


The Global Engagement Studies Institute (GESI) is a study abroad program that provides undergraduates with the knowledge, tools, and experiences to confront
 shared global challenges. Through service-learning in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, Uganda, or Vietnam, teams of students join the efforts of local organizations to advance community-driven change.

GESI students are placed in local NGOs through the Foundation for Sustainable Development. The urban environment provides many opportunities to dive in and address some of Bolivia’s most pressing issues like education, women’s rights, political activism, poverty rights, and NGO management.

Cochabamba has an especially vibrant history of grassroots activism, with long standing fights against corruption, most famously the Water War protests over the privatization of water. Nearly 9,000 feet above sea level, Cochabamba is a bustling, diverse city. While Spanish is spoken throughout the country, GESI students will also hear many indigenous languages as they move around the city or go on excursions. Nicknamed the “the Eternal Spring” and the “Garden City,” Cochabamba has a pleasant year-round climate and is known for some of the best cuisine in Bolivia. 

Bolivian host families are often large and multigenerational. It’s not uncommon for students in Bolivia to meet the entire extended family, attend a wedding, or be invited on weekend trips with their host families.

Program Type: Northwestern-Sponsored


  • Summer

Languages: Spanish, English

Language Requirements: 

1 year or the equivalent of college-level Spanish.


Home stays

Program Costs: 

The cost of the program is equivalent to tuition for two credits.  In summer 2018 this is $8707. 

Although equal to the cost of tuition, this program fee includes much more, such as room and board while abroad, GeoBlue health insurance coverage, and more.

Visit the GESI website for more cost information details, including our breakdown of additional expenses for use in planning.

GESI Scholarships: 

GESI scholarships exist so that qualified Northwestern undergraduate students have the opportunity to gain international and community development experience, regardless of financial constraints. Learn more about the two types of scholarships that are available to qualified Northwestern students for GESI Bolivia:

  • Bonnie and Mike Daniels Scholars: Up to 15 scholarships that cover full tuition and other costs, and are based on financial need, community engagement, and interview/application quality.
  • Buffett Institute GESI Scholarships: Award amounts vary and are based on financial need, community engagement, and interview/application quality.

Visit the GESI website for more information about GESI scholarships and financial aid.

GESI Appointment

Contact Returnees

Financial FAQ