Plaza de Armas, the historic city center in Santiago.

Plaza de Armas, the historic city center in Santiago

Lehigh Launch Chile Accepting Applications for Fall 2024 Cohort

Applications for the experiential, integrative learning experience will be accepted on a space-available basis until May.

After two years of success in Ecuador, the Lehigh Launch program will be moving to Chile next year, and faculty director Hugo Ceron-Anaya believes it will offer participating students a truly unique and enriching experience.

“I sincerely think that it will be a fantastic opportunity for the students,” said Ceron-Anaya, an associate professor of sociology at Lehigh, whose research expertise lies in Latin America. “We’re going to have a great set of courses, and we’ll be based in Santiago, a city that has a lot to offer for students that they’ll be really interested in and enjoy, from arts to sports to food.”

a mural with the face of Salvador Allende in the Yungay neighborhood.

A mural of Salvador Allende in the Yungay neighborhood

Lehigh Launch is an experiential, integrative learning experience for first-year Lehigh University students of any major. High school students and families interested in applying or seeking more information can visit the Lehigh Launch website. The Fall 2024 cohort is still accepting applications on a space-available basis until May.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to start getting to know these students when they are seniors in high school and then to witness all the personal and academic growth they experience before they even arrive on the Lehigh campus for the spring semester,” said Katy Rene, assistant director of Study Abroad at Lehigh.

“I have also been so impressed by all the ways our program alumni are getting involved and pursuing additional international, research and co-curricular activities offered by the university,” Rene said.

Engaging Courses and Trips

Ceron-Anaya has several trips and visits planned for Lehigh Launch Chile, including one to the beautiful Chiloé Island, which includes the Chiloé National Park and the Tantauco Park nature reserve. Inhabited by indigenous communities for the last roughly 600 years, the students will speak to local communities about how they reconcile tourism with nature.

He also plans to visit La Serena, the capital city of Chile’s Coquimbo Region, which is particularly well known for its beaches. It is also one of the sites where Charles Darwin stopped during his South American scientific expedition, due to the wide variety of ecosystems found there, Ceron-Anaya said.

In Chile, Ceron-Anaya plans to teach one of his most popular Lehigh courses: “Race and Ethnicity in the Americas,” which takes a comparative approach to looking at Latin America and the U.S. and how each side of the continent develops their racial and ethnic ideas.

Santiago has so much to offer the students. There is so much to do for anyone interested in art, music, food, or just walking around the city.

Faculty director Hugo Ceron-Anaya

He also plans to offer a new course called “Utopias in the Current World,” which will delve into contemporary efforts to create better and more harmonious societies by drawing on past attempts to create utopian societies.

“I decided to go against all the messages in popular culture about the dystopian futures you see on shows at places like Netflix and Prime,” Ceron-Anaya said. “I want the students to think about a future that is not a misery for everybody, a future that is very different from what popular culture feeds us these days.”

A Walkable City

As part of that course, the students will visit the Mamalluca Observatory, a complex of astronomical telescopes and instruments near La Serena. The observatory fits into Ceron-Anaya’s class about utopias, he said, because it will help students think about the role science and technology plays in creating a positive future for everybody.

Lehigh Launch Chile participants will be staying in different locations across three adjacent neighborhoods in Santiago, the country’s capital city. The areas include parks, museums, markets, athletic fields, musical complexes, and a wide variety of cafes and small restaurants, Ceron-Anaya said. The city is also very walkable and bicycle-friendly.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile

“Santiago has so much to offer the students,” Ceron-Anaya said. “There is so much to do for anyone interested in art, music, food, or just walking around the city."

Ceron-Anaya expects Lehigh Launch Chile participants to spend a lot of time visiting Santiago museums, and he will be inviting artists and writers to speak to the students, particularly about economic issues, education, and what a utopian future could look like.

‘A Sophistication About the World’

It’s also easy to visit other countries and places from Santiago, Ceron-Anaya said. It’s very affordable to travel to nearby Argentina, for example, and bus services are available to the Andes mountain range.

Having been offered in Ecuador for the past two years, Lehigh Launch Chile will continue Lehigh’s long tradition of engagement with Latin American countries and scholars that date back to the earliest years of the university. Ceron-Anaya previously said he considers it important to keep this program in Latin America because it offers students a wide range of learning opportunities.

“Latin American studies will help our students develop a sophistication about the world in a different way than they will find in European countries,” he said. “In the cases of Ecuador and Chile, they’re going to find developing nations, with all the sort of problems that come with that, whether it’s issues of poverty, immigration, business, or ecology.”

Lehigh Launch Chile is the sister program to Lehigh Launch American West, which began in 2020 and features programs in the Rocky Mountains and field-based learning in Wyoming and New Mexico. Applications for Lehigh Launch American West is currently accepting applications for the Fall.

Story by Colin McEvoy

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