Semester in Honduras: Justice Studies

Basic information

  • Location: Tegucigalpa, Honduras | Map
  • Dates: On hiatus until further notice. Consider joining Honduras Spanish Studies Semester
  • Class requirement: Sophomore
  • GPA requirement: 2.50+
  • Cost: To be announced

Learn about justice issues in Tegucigalpa by studying abroad in one of two Calvin semester programs in Honduras. Whether through an interview with a worker in a garment factory or a lecture from one of Honduras' top politicians, this semester will open your eyes to a new way of thinking about justice: as something that's possible.

Students from all majors are invited to the Justice Studies in Honduras semester, offered through Calvin's off-campus programs. Earn 15 credits of coursework in community development and Honduran culture, taught by professors who live out what they're teaching. Choose a two-week practicum where you work with an organization of your choice. Learn Spanish by speaking Spanish, even if you haven't taken much before.
In Honduras, you'll stay with host families in the beautiful town of Santa Lucía, just outside the capital, Tegucigalpa. You may learn to cook traditional food, play soccer with your younger siblings, or hear traditional stories from your abuelo. Whatever your experience, many students say staying with a host family is one of the most rewarding parts of their semester. In coffee fields and subsistence farms, in embassies and Congress, don't just learn about a developing country: learn from one. Come together with people who share your passions and see how you can be part of the solution.

This website which is maintained by former students of the Honduras Justice Semester, Now Trending: Quality Over Quantity, is the result of their experience in Honduras.

For information about safety on this program in Honduras, read this open letter.

In Pictures


Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Students will stay 20 minutes outside of Tegucigalpa with Honduran families in the beautiful town of Santa Lucía. Tegucigalpa is in southern Honduras and surrounded by a chain of mountains, with the Choluteca River running through it from north to south.

Founded as a Spanish settlement on September 29, 1578, it became the permanent capital of Honduras in 1880. Originally known for its silver and gold mining industries, Tegucigalpa gets its name from the phrase "silver mountain" in the ancient Nahuatl language.
approx. 1.25 million
Honduras is in a tropical climate zone, but because of altitude, it has characteristics of a more moderate climate, with average temperatures ranging from 66-74° F (19-23° C). It is coolest in December and January, warmest and driest in March and April and wettest during the hurricane season from June to November.

Program Profile: Honduras

In most cases students adapt well to their circumstances, but it is helpful to know what to expect as you prepare for a specific experience. If you have specific questions about a program, we would encourage you to speak directly to your off-campus instructor or director or, feel free to stop by the OCP Office at any time.

Physical expectations: Moderate
Language Importance: Moderate
Cultural acclimation difficulty: High
Level of Cultural Interaction: Moderate
Safety & Security Considerations: High

Health Considerations: Moderate
Mental Health Considerations: High
Lodging: Host Families
Cost: $

Social Expectations: By their nature, semesters and interims off-campus are inherently social experiences. Heavy emphasis is usually put on building a strong sense of community within the group, which requires openness, sociability, and a collaborative spirit from everyone involved. Acknowledging that having a diversity of personalities makes a group stronger, it is expected that all participants willfully agree to be an active part of the social community of their interim or semester program.


Physical Expectations


These experiences require no more physical exertion than being on Calvin’s Campus. You don’t have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to. No physical preparation is required to make the most of this experience.


Moderate physical activity is expected and an average level of fitness is required. You will be doing a great deal more walking then on campus, often over uneven surfaces and rough roads. Some physical preparation is recommended before departure to make the most of this experience.


Be prepared for some serious physical activity requiring an above average level of fitness. This will include a high level of walking over all kinds of terrain as well as other physical demands in all kinds of extreme temperatures. The fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy this experience as many activities will be challenging.


Language Importance


English is the predominant language in course location.


Knowing another language is helpful to fulfill the goals of the course but English is also prevalent in course location.

Knowing another language is important to fulfill the goals of the course.


Cultural Acclimation Difficulty


Western conveniences are prevalent. Host culture is very similar to traditions and culture of West Michigan.


Few western conveniences, the need for students to blend in with the surrounding culture is important. Host culture shares similarities and differences with the culture of West Michigan.

No western conveniences, the need for students to acclimatize to local culture is readily apparent. Host culture is vastly different than West Michigan.


Level of Cultural Interaction


Interaction with local culture is limited and very formal (e.g. through organized tours).


Intentional opportunities to interact with local peoples and culture.


Intensive immersion in local culture – host families, service-learning, etc.


Safety & Security Considerations

Although no one can guarantee your safety or eliminate all risks from a study-abroad experience, Calvin College is committed to doing its utmost to provide secure environments in which you can live and learn. Our goal is to minimize risks and keep you aware of special situations as you make decisions about studying off-campus.


Safety concerns are similar to living on campus. Incidents can happen anywhere, but there are no indications that you are more at risk during this experience then you would be at home. You always need to continually be aware of what is going on around you and partner with your Calvin instructor or director to assure your safety while off-campus.


There are no specific safety concerns of the U.S. State Department for the areas where you will be studying. However, additional care must be taken to assure a safe and secure experience. You always need to continually be aware of what is going on around you and partner with your Calvin instructor or director to assure your safety while off-campus.


There are safety concerns you should be aware of as you commit to this trip. The U.S. State Department has issued a Travel alert or Warning for the area where you will be studying. You will need to partner with Calvin in addressing safety concerns and follow all safety guidelines for the experience.


Health Considerations

Remember, Calvin follows the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for all Calvin sponsored off-campus experiences.


Health concerns are similar to living on campus. Illnesses and accidents can happen anywhere, but there are no indications that you are more at risk during this experience then you would be at home. Health Care resources (clinics, medical personnel, etc.) are numerous and you would have easy access to medical care if needed. Some vaccinations will be required, but overall precautions are minimal.


In general, health concerns are slightly higher than living on campus. Typical travel illnesses (diarrhea, intestinal issues, etc.) are often experienced and appropriate health care is available but can be harder to access than on campus. Several vaccinations may be required and students must be diligent in taking precautions before and during the experience.


Health concerns are higher than living on campus. Typical travel illnesses (diarrhea, intestinal issues, etc.) are often experienced at some point. Plans to assure adequate health care are in place but health care facilities could be hard to access during the experience. There may be many vaccinations required for the experience and students must be diligent in taking precautions before and during the experience.


Mental Health Considerations

Remember, the Broene Counseling Center cannot provide on-line or phone consultations with students.


Mental health resources are similar to living on the Calvin campus. Mental Health resources (clinics, counselors, etc.) are available and you would have access to these resources, if needed. It could be challenging to find the right resources on short notice and for a short period of time.


Mental health resources are present in various locations during the experience but maybe difficult to access for a variety of reasons.




Group will be camping (living outdoors) at times during the trip.

Host Families

Students will be staying with host families for parts or all of the experience.


Staying in College dorms, similar to Calvin. Roommates will be other Calvin students or other international students depending on your preference.


Dormitory style lodging, shared bathrooms.


Individual rooms (with roommates) and private baths.



Cost of off-campus experiences vary as a result of a number of factors, including the number of students enrolled in the program. Amidst all these factors, the following categories could be helpful, but students are encouraged to check with instructors and directors on specific cost information.


$ Within $500 of tuition, room & board on campus
$$ Between $501 and $2,000 of tuition, room and board on campus
$$$ More than $2,000 over tuition, room and board on campus


$ Less than $2,500
$$ $2,501 to $3,800
$$$ >$3,801


Over the duration of this program, you will complete the following courses in succession:

  • STHO 210: Exploring a Third World Society - This course offers Honduras' unique history, economics and politics as a window on the third world.  Frequent seminars will provide an opportunity to interact with leading Honduran politicians, economists, historians, and sociologists. (3 credits, Global Historical Studies core requirement)
    STHO 211: The Problem of Poverty -  This course analyzes development theories and major issues such as population and environment that come into play when attempting to develop impoverished areas. The class will also include frank discussions about how Christian values can shape development theory (3 credits, Societal structures or elective credit in Economics)
  • STHO 212: Development Theory in Practice - This course provides an in-depth analysis of  third world development. Guest speakers from leading Christian and non-Christian organizations present honest appraisals of their work and students spend a week sharing life with real Hondurans and studying the impact development organizations have had in the community. (3 credits, Societal structures or elective credit in Economics)

Course 4 is a Spanish class you choose and is taught by Honduran teachers:

  • SPAN xxx: Spanish Language Study - Each student will take at least one Spanish class (beginning, intermediate, or advanced Latin America literature or culture). The classes are taught by highly skilled Honduran teachers using Calvin College's Spanish curriculum. (3 credits, Global Historical Studies)

Course 5 is a 2-week practicum:

  • STHO 310: Honduras Semester Practicum - Students will be placed in a Honduran organization (e.g. NGO or social service organization) for a minimum of 80 hours) to gain hands-on experience related to the work of the organization.  Through the practicum experience, students will gain a better understanding of the day-to-day work of practitioners.  In addition, students will develop and implement a research project related to the organization, utilizing such skills as participative investigation, proposal writing, program evaluation and report writing. (3 credits, CCE)

Learn more about direct-enroll transfer credits in academic services.

Course Fulfillments

By studying in Honduras you will fulfill your cross cultural engagement (CCE) core requirement.


You will live with a Honduran family in San Lucia, a beautiful town in the mountains 20 minutes outside of Tegucigalpa. Fluency in Spanish is not required for this experience.


You must have a 2.5 grade point average and be of sophomore status to participate in the justice studies program in Honduras. Preference will be given to juniors and seniors for the program.


The final program cost is expected to be within $1,000 of Calvin tuition and room and board on campus. More specific cost information will be sent with your acceptance letter. The final program cost is based on many factors and is not known exactly until the number of students in the group has been identified. The financial information page covers the details that go into the cost of the program and rough estimates for each. The cost for the Honduras Justice semester will include:

  • Tuition
  • Room
  • Food allowance
  • Administration
  • Field trips

Additional expenses not included in the program fee: passport, books, immunizations and medical insurance (required), personal travel expenses and spending money. Make sure that your passport is up-to-date and will not expire any time in the next year. Note that Honduras is an inexpensive country for visitors with dollars, so an extra $100 to $150 per month should provide plenty of spending money.


This year's application deadline has passed. Check back next year to apply.

Questions / contact

Kurt Ver Beek

Kurt Ver Beek

Professor of Sociology, Emeritus
Full profile


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