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The 5-month, 18-credit Puebla-Alberta Community Service Exchange is grounded in popular and experiential education philosophies. While credit is received for a series of specific courses listed below, PACSE is conceived holistically. That is, all experiences of the exchange--from the more analytical Weekly Educational Activity Days to the more practical Work Placements--are considered part of the overall educational experience. Therefore, the educational approach is as relevant as the specific course outlines.

The Mexican phase of the program begins in August, but instead of being on campus, students spend nine weeks in a rural Mexican host community. Students live in a host family with their counterpart for the duration of the Mexican phase. Host families come from a wide variety of backgrounds in their communities and include: single parent households, retired folks, parents with children, campesinos, and other community members.

During the exchange, two days a week are devoted to student-led educational activities in which the professors and project supervisors are able to assist students in understanding the applicability of various theoretical approaches to development and sustainability.  For the rest of the week, students volunteer in a variety of community organizations and businesses, completing a total of 250 hours per semester. The hours spent living and working within the host community allows students the chance to examine and evaluate the foundational theories surrounding community sustainability.  The overall goal of the phase is to understand the factors that help and hinder sustainability in rural Mexican communities.

In October, the exchange shifts to a rural community in Alberta where students again live and work in host communities.  Assignments and discussions encourage students to reflect and analyze the comparative challenges faced in both countries, and the various strategies employed by communities worldwide. 

Students in PACSE get 18 credits in the following courses:
  • 6 EXCH 811 (equivalent of * 3 IDS 290 Community Based Research & IDS 223/323 Development Studies Practicum (Mexico)
  • 6 IDS 224/324 Development Studies Seminar (Canada)
  • 6 Spanish 100, 200 or 300 depending on your level.