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Program Information:


Lunch after Community input
  • Learn about planning and urban design methodologies in the innovative Colombian city of Medellín
  • Engage with a marginalized community, working side by side with community members in the production of a plan for neighborhood development
  • Integrate with locals by living with a host family and participating in a ‘buddy’ program with university students
  • Earn 9 credits while taking two exciting courses: a practicum/studio and complementary seminar
  • Apply to be the videographer for the program and receive a scholarship if selected!


Missed the info session? View the presentation here!
Check out the host organization's webpage.


This Global Seminar will be based in Medellín, Colombia. The city of Medellín’s innovative approach to improving the quality of the environment of informal settlements is celebrated by scholars and media outlets as one of the best models in the world. Medellín has been named the world’s most innovative city in a competition organized by the nonprofit Urban Land Institute, whose leaders wrote in a statement online:

"Few cities have transformed the way that Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city has in the past 20 years. Medellín’s homicide rate has plunged nearly 80% from 1991 to 2010. The city built public libraries, parks, and schools in poor hillside neighborhoods and constructed a series of transportation links from there to its commercial and industrial centers. The links include a metro cable car system and escalators up steep hills, reducing commutation times, spurring private investment, and promoting social equity as well as environmental sustainability. In 2012, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy recognized Medellín’s efforts with the Sustainable Transportation Award. …

Medellín’s challenges are still many, particularly in housing. However, through innovation and leadership, Medellín has sowed the seeds of transformation, leading to its recognition as a city with potential for long-lasting success."

The program will be hosted by the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. The seminar and studio will be taught in the university facilities, onsite work and community meetings will take place at the community center in local community Manantiales de Paz, and other special lectures will be held at the offices of architects, planning department and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

Please note that Colombia is currently under a U.S. State Department Travel Warning. It is CU Boulder’s policy not to offer programs in countries under travel warnings. However, based on his in-depth knowledge of Colombia, his extensive experience offering programs in Medellín specifically, and the rigorous safety measures put in place by the hosting organization in Medellín, CU Boulder’s International Risk Committee has granted Professor Samper an appeal to offer the Global Seminar: The Medellín Practicum/Studio (Medellín, Colombia) in summer 2018. Don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Samper directly ( if you or your family have any safety-related questions about the Global Seminar.


Students will live with vetted host families in the Carlos E. Restrepo neighborhood and will be within walking distance of each other, the faculty director, and the university classrooms. Students are matched with families according to their individual needs (food restrictions, language abilities, religious preferences, etc.).

Host families will provide two meals per day throughout the program (breakfast and dinner). Group Welcome and Farewell dinners are also included in the program fee.


Downtown MedellinStudents are responsible for making their own transportation arrangements to and from Colombia. Note that most flights to Colombia are overnight flights, so you will likely leave the U.S. the day prior to the official program start date. Departures on the official program end date will likely mean a U.S. return on the following day.

Airport reception, ground transportation to/from the airport in Colombia, and transportation on program-related field trips in Medellín are provided as part of the program fee.


  • Required Course 1: ENVD 3009-820 The Medellín Practicum/Studio: Planning Informality (6 credits) 
    • Approved for: Praxis requirement (ENVD 3300 Studio) or ENVD elective credit
  • Required Course 2: ENVD 3009-821 Social Urbanism: Learning from Urban Upgrading Practices in Medellín, Colombia (3 credits)
    • Approved for: ENVD 3300 Seminar or ENVD elective credit
  • Credits: 9 total upper-division credit hours
  • Grading: This is a CU Boulder course, so you will receive letter grades
  • ENVD 3009-820 Course Description
  • ENVD 3009-821 Course Description

This program introduces students to planning and urban design methodologies in the context of rapid global urbanization and scarcity of economic resources. It intends to give students the opportunity to employ these methodologies by engaging with a community organization in Medellín, Colombia. The program provides students with firsthand experience with globally recognized best practices of urban upgrading as well as techniques of community participation and urban design. These are key tools for architects, urban designers, landscape architects and planners who work on issues of urban resilience and development in landscapes of marginality.


Faculty director Dr. Jota Samper, Assistant Professor for the Program on Environmental Design, has been leading education abroad programs in Colombia since 2008. A native of Medellín, he has been living in the United States for 17 years, which has prepared him to serve as an excellent cultural translator between the U.S. and local Colombian culture. He is an architect, urban designer, and planner whose work concentrates on sustainable urban growth and dwells at the intersection between urban informality (“slums”) and violent urban conflict. As a researcher of informality in Medellín, he is very familiar with the history, diverse locales, and people of the city.

See Dr. Samper's Faculty Spotlight.


The program includes multiple guest lectures and various site visits around the city. There will be a city tour, as well as explorations to museums, including the Museo de Antioquia, Museo Casa de la Memoria, and MDE Museo de Historia Urbana de Medellín. Guided tours to the Festival feria de las flores (Flower Festival) and International Poetry Festival may also be included in the program.


First Day of WorkAdditionally, students will have the opportunity to engage with Colombian university students via Programa Compañer@, through which the Colombian students apply to be compañeros, or friends, with CU students to show them around the city and share what it is like to live in Medellín.

  • Gilman Scholarship: For students currently receiving Pell grants as part of their federal financial aid.



Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline App Review Begins Start Date End Date
Summer 2018 01-MAR-2018
Variable 08-JUL-2018 19-AUG-2018
NOTE: Dates on this page are for information only; final dates will be confirmed with participants after acceptance to the program. Do not purchase airfare until instructed to do so by your Program Manager. The Start Date indicates the day participants arrive at the program location; the End Date indicates the day participants depart from the program location.
Summer 2019 01-MAR-2019 ** Variable TBA TBA

** Most programs’ applications are reviewed on a rolling basis (starting August 1st for Spring programs and January 15th for Summer and Fall programs). NOTE: Some programs start the admissions process earlier and fill before the deadline, and some programs’ applications aren’t reviewed until after the deadline. Check with Education Abroad staff for details.

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