College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Academics > Geography and GIS > Student Resources > Dominican Republic Study Abroad

Dominican Republic Study Abroad Program

LAS Dominican Republic, Study Abroad, December 2022


The Dominican Republic (DR) Study Abroad service-learning program offers a unique focus on questions of social, environmental and economic sustainability in the Dominican Republic.  The central focus of the program is on sustainable food systems, environmental restoration, and reforestation in Rio Limpio, a town situated in the highlands of the DR bordering Haiti in the province of Elías Piña. Rio Limpio residents (population 1376) are engaged in a multi-decade long effort to employ organic agricultural practices spurred by a vocationally oriented high school focused on educating youth in sustainable agricultural techniques. The school, Centro Regional Estudios de Alternativas Rurales (CREAR) was founded during the 1980s as an agro-ecological vocational-technical farming school with scholarships for children of the poorest farmers in the region. CREAR graduates become technicians, field instructors, and organic farming specialists contributing to the expansion of organic farming in the DR (e.g., coffee, rice, fruits and vegetables).  Many go on to become college-educated agronomists and agricultural scientists and technicians and Rio Limpio continues as a national experiment in sustainable agricultural practices and poverty alleviation.  The town and region continue to struggle, however, with high poverty rates and challenges resulting from difficulties in the commercialization of agricultural products.  In recent years, government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including a locally-run farmers cooperative, have sought to assist local residents in marketing of products domestically and, in the case of coffee, internationally., Decades of deforestation through slash and burn agriculture and the harvesting of trees for fuel and lumber have impacted the region surrounding Rio Limpio.  The town is in proximity to two national parks visited by tourists, creating tension with local farmers who also seek to utilize land for raising livestock and producing food.  An internationally financed reforestation program and past efforts to relocate farmers that practice slash and burn agriculture to greenhouse structures are all features of the Rio Limpio landscape.
The highlight of the program is a 5-day knowledge exchange program in Rio Limpio where students will engage in curricular-based projects with CREAR high school students.  DePaul students trained in GIS will participate in educating CREAR students on GIS community mapping while the latter educate DePaul students on local sustainable agricultural practices.  Working alongside CREAR students on their school’s organic farm, DePaul students will experience the lived reality of environmental practice, while providing a needed technology resource that contributes to locally driven development efforts.  Projects and lectures in Rio Limpio will be complemented by a variety of trips throughout the DR focused on the country’s history and issues of social, economic and environmental sustainability within a global context.  
Students will spend time in homestays within the city of Santiago, founded in 1495, and historically the center of the country’s Tobacco production and trade. Expert lecturer from a local university partnering with DePaul will introduce students to development challenges faced by the DR.  Student will also engage in small geography service learning project at a school in Santiago’s most economically distressed neighborhood.  During the second half of the program, students will travel to the capital, Santo Domingo, the largest city in the Caribbean with a metropolitan population of close to 3 million.  Founded in 1496 by the brother of Christopher Columbus, Bartholomew Columbus, the city is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas. It was the first seat of Spanish colonial rule and hosted the first university, cathedral, and fortress.  The city’s Colonial Zone is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and visits to museums and historical sites will bring to life literature on the turbulent history of the island and country.  The latter will be complemented by a visits to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Dominican Republic Ministry of the Environment.  A highlight of Santo Domingo will be a visit to the neighborhood of Los Mina, established in the 17th century by freed and escaped slaves, where students will visit St. Vincent de Paul Parish and learn about the work of the Vincentians in educating impoverished youth while engaging in a short geography service learning project with students at the parish high school.  The progam will close with a visit to Alta Gracia Apparel, a fair trade clothing manufacturer and a small service learning project with an organization serving Dominican and Haitian girls in the coastal tourist city of Cabarete


Professor Rosing came to DePaul in 2001 and is the Executive Director of the Steans Center for Community-based Service Learning.  He teaches in in Community Service Studies, Geography and the MA in Sustainable Urban Development program. Dr. Rosing is a cultural anthropologist whose research and teaching focuses on food access, economic restructuring, community food systems, and food justice movements in Chicago and the Dominican Republic. He is currently completing a citywide study of community garden yields in partnership with Neighborspace, Chicago's land trust for community gardens.  He also maintains ongoing research in the Dominican Republic on urban and rural food systems.

Cassie Follett is the GIS Coordinator for Geography, helping to plan and expand GIS capabilities on campus and managing the new GIS Lab on campus. Before coming to DePaul she worked for NASA and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and received her MA from West Virginia University while researching big data and open source web GIS. She holds a bachelors with double major in Geography and History from Carthage College. She is currently studying for her second graduate degree at UIC in Epidemiology. She is a volunteer with several open source GIS projects such as Cesium and QGIS, and regularly volunteers with the "PyOhio" Python conference. Her research interests include researching health inequities with a focus on the LGBTQ community, the influence of climate change on emerging infectious diseases, and the power of crowdsourcing and participatory mapping used with social movements and marginalized communities to agitate for change.


Students will be registered for GEO 141/ SUD 490 in the Fall and CSS 320/ SUD 420 in Winter Quarter. If one of these classes has already been completed (for instance, Geo 141), other classes can be substituted for credit.

Course: GEO 141 (Undergraduate)/ SUD 490 (Graduate): Community GIS in the Dominican Republic
Credits: 4 credit hours
Term registered: Fall Quarter
Liberal Studies Domain: SI non-Lab
Taught by: Cassie Follett
Course Description: This is an introductory-level course covering the fundamentals of GIS. Topics include GPS, remote sensing, data models (vector and raster), coordinate systems, and map design. Instruction is accomplished through lectures and hands-on computer lab exercises using ArcGIS and open source GIS tools.

Course: CSS 320 (Undergraduate)/SUD 420 (Graduate): Community Food Systems
Credits: 4 credit hours
Term registered: Winter 2017
Liberal Studies Domain: Experiential Learning (EL)
Taught by: Professor Howard Rosing
Course Description: This course will explore the concepts of community food systems and community food security in the Dominican Republic (DR) through the lens of a rural town, Rio Limpio, in the highlands of western DR. Rio Limpio is involved in a decades-long experiment with developing sustainable agriculture to promote improved livelihoods, food security, and environmental conservation. Students will be provided with domestic and international venues for development of critical analytical thinking skills in relation to the issue of community food security in a developing country. 
Please note that although some courses are registered in a particular term, some coursework or final assignments may be due in a different term. E.g. Course registered in winter quarter, but coursework is due in spring quarter once the travel component of the program is complete.


Rio Limpio: students will stay at the town's eco-lodge
Santiago: students will be in homestays with local families
Santo Domingo: students will stay at a hotel
Cabarete: students will stay at a hotel in Cabarete


All students participating in study abroad will be charged both tuition (billed at the regular DePaul tuition rate, based on the number of credits enrolled) and a program fee.  Please read the program fee details carefully to understand exactly what is included, as this can vary from program to program.  If the program fee is posted, be sure to note whether the fee is current or from a previous year (past program fees may serve as a guide until the current program fee is available).  If the current program fee has not yet been posted, please check back closer to the application deadline. Please also note the withdrawal policy.

DePaul offers several types of scholarships for students studying abroad, and students should visit the scholarship page early in the application process for information on eligibility and deadlines.  Students are also encouraged to speak with the DePaul financial aid office for more information about financing their study abroad experience.


If you are planning to study abroad and do not have a passport, apply for one immediately. Some programs require travelers to obtain visas. In that case, contact the local consulates or embassies of the countries you will be visiting for up-to-date instructions on how to apply for them. Please note, however, that visa requirements can change. The Study Abroad Program will update this website to reflect changes to the visa requirements as they become available.


Questions about this program? Contact your study abroad advisor, Erica Rideaux


Click here to begin the application process.