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Virtual Social Welfare: Costa Rica and Italy

Virtual Social Welfare: Costa Rica and Italy
Language of Instruction: 
Academic Disciplines: 
Social Work
Program Type: 
  • Students will learn about the culture, history, and current realities of Costa Rica and Italy.
  • Students will explore aspects of Italian and Costa Rican social services that is of particular interest to them.
  • All students will receive in-state tuition.
Program Summary: 

This study abroad course focuses on social welfare services and their development in Costa Rica and Italy. This program is offered in conjunction with The University of Costa Rica in San Jose, Costa Rica and with Universitá Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy. There will be an orientation to this course approximately two weeks prior to the regular sessions, and there will be one session held approximately one week after the formal sessions have completed. We will focus on the impact of Italy and Costa Rica’s history, global economics, religion, and culture on its social welfare institutions and their practices; the influence of its geopolitical interactions in the region; and the similarities and differences between preparation for practice in Europe, Central America, and the United States.

Academic Information: 

Three hours of academic credit are granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the program. Students will enroll in 3 credit hours of SW 560, SW 855, or SW 955, dependent upon academic level. The credits will count toward the BSW degree for BSW students, the diversity requirement for MSW students, and as elective hours for Ph.D. students.

The course will introduce students to the culture, history, and current realities of Costa Rica and Italy. Classes will be synchronous and asynchronous with Costa Rican and Italian scholars, and community-based leaders will present on a range of social work services, e.g. health and mental health, migration, children and disability services, and there will be opportunities for discussion and questions. There will be one orientation meeting prior to and one reflection meeting after the program dates.


This program is open to students in good academic standing in their respective degree programs.

Further Reading: 

Students participating in this program are eligible to apply for a KU Study Abroad & Global Engagement virtual scholarship.

Additional scholarships are available for students in the Multicultural Scholars Program.

Program Faculty: 

Rick Spano is a professor Emeritus in the School of Social Welfare, and is an avid proponent of study abroad, He has a significant relationship with Costa Rica that dates back 15 years.

Terry Koenig is a professor in the school of Social Welfare and has been involved with study abroad in Italy for the past 8 years.


Summer 2021 programs now accepting applications !

Drop-In Advising:  Beginning, February 1, drop-in advising with SAGE peer advisors is available daily, Monday – Friday, from 12:00 – 5:00pm for the duration of the Spring semester.  Drop-in advising is the best option for students new to KU or exploring study abroad for the first time, or for students who have general questions on program selection, application, post-acceptance paperwork, etc. To join a Drop-In advising session, Join via Zoom Video Call

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9th among public universities in the country for high quality, low cost study abroad programs — U.S. News & World Report
Longest-running exchange program in Western Hemisphere (begun in 1958) between KU and University of Costa Rica
18th in the nation among public universities for undergraduate participation in study abroad — Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange
28.1% of KU undergraduate students study abroad prior to graduation.
KU students who study abroad graduate in four years at twice the rate of students who do not study abroad
More than 160 study abroad programs in 75 countries, with instruction in all disciplines and 20+ languages
Students can study abroad for an academic year, semester, summer, spring break, or winter break
Programs include international study, internships, service, and research opportunities
Students participating in semester, academic year, and select summer programs fulfill Goal 4.2 of the KU Core curriculum
Students can fulfill major, minor, certificate, elective, and KU Core curriculum requirements abroad
Programs are available for students in every major at KU
Financial aid is applicable to study abroad programs, and most KU scholarships and grants can be applied to study abroad
Study Abroad & Global Engagement and many academic departments offer scholarships to qualified KU students
By studying abroad, students gain a global perspective on the world and strengthen their career opportunities
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times