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Programs : Brochure

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Quick Facts:
Program Features:
Faculty-Led Global Seminar
Areas of Study:
Business/Intl Business
GPA at time of application:
Minimum Class Standing (at program start):
Course Prerequisite(s):
Previous coursework in business preferred
Open to students from:
CU Boulder
Language(s) of Instruction:
Course Load for Summer/Winter Program:
3 credits
Length of Summer/Winter Program:
*Maymester, 3 Weeks
Estimated Total Costs:
Program Information:



  • Spend May in urban Panama City and the rural community of El Cocal
  • Learn about local social and environmental challenges and partner with community entrepreneurs

  • Tour the newly expanded Panama Canal and enjoy an overnight excursion to the San Blas Islands

  • Develop your Spanish language skills

  • Learn more! Video: 2015 Highlights, Video: Program Details, and Video: Student & Faculty Perspectives

  • See highlights from the 2015 program here!
  • Missed the interest meeting? View the presentation here!


Photo by Tyler Hanzel

The program begins in Panama City and then transitions to the Cocle Province. You will spend the majority of the program in the rural community of El Cocal. Panama is considered the fourth strongest economy in Latin America and one of the top 20 fastest growing economies in the world. However, strong economic performance has not translated into broadly shared prosperity, as Panama has the second worst income distribution in Central America after Haiti. Panama will allow you to learn about the potential for business solutions to address poverty and related social and environmental challenges.


You will become immersed in the culture through vetted homestays which will expedite your understanding of community culture, needs, and opportunities. All homestays will have electricity and running water. Meals are included during your homestay and the group will enjoy Welcome & Farewell meals together.


You are responsible for making your own transportation arrangements to and from Panama. Transportation on program-related field trips while in Panama is provided as part of the program fee.


  • Course: CESR 4005, Business Solutions for the Developing World
  • Credits: 3 upper-division credit hours
  • Approved for: general elective, business elective, service-learning or experiential requirement for the CESR SRE certificate, global experience requirement for the Global Business Certificate, and engineering humanities!
  • Grading: This is a CU Boulder course; you will receive a letter grade
  • See course description

You will earn three credits for CESR 4005, Business Solutions for the Developing World. As part of the class, you will work in student teams and partner with a local entrepreneur. Additionally, the class will meet regularly for additional course material, workshops, and de-briefings.

The program will begin with three preparatory classes held in Boulder in April. The purpose of these classes is to discuss the practical details of the trip and to provide an academic foundation and preliminary coursework for the trip.

Your grade will be based on the following:

  • Assignments for the Boulder classes
  • Class and trip participation
  • Portfolio of your experience in Panama

The program runs during the last three weeks of May. There will be three to four preparatory classes held in Boulder in April.


Catherine Milburn will direct the program. She is a Senior Instructor in the Leeds School of Business in the Center on Education for Social Responsibility. She was born in Panama and has traveled and volunteered extensively throughout Central America. Ms. Milburn will choose program participants, lead a pre-program orientation, teach the course, and act as resident director in Panama.

See Professor Milburn's Faculty Spotlight.


You will experience daily cultural activities during your immersion in the El Cocal community. You will also experience Panama City and the Panama Canal via guided tours and will have the opportunity to enjoy an overnight excursion to the San Blas Islands.



  • Center for Education on Social Responsibility scholarship (for SRE students). To apply, please contact the CESR office at
  • Leeds School of Business study abroad scholarships (for Business majors). To apply, please fill out the Buffs Abroad Scholarships application by the published deadline.
  • Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) Grants: (up to $2,400/project) for undergraduate research or creative work projects including projects while studying abroad. Application, detailed descriptions, project archive (to get project ideas) are available on the UROP website. Application deadline is EARLY - usually in late February/early March.



San Blas excursion courtesy of ThinkImpact

Program Reviews:
Melissa Grover, Summer 2017 Participant
Most of the students on our trip were Caucasian, so we obviously stood out in these small communities. This slightly worked to our advantage, as people were curious and wanted to talk to us, and we didn't encounter much discrimination towards us. We were charged slightly more in taxis or markets, because we obviously weren't locals and didn't speak Spanish perfectly, so it was easier to take advantage of us and overcharge. The community was very religious, but we never had ideas forced upon us. Overall, we felt very welcome in our community and program.

Summer 2015 Participant
We were in a volunteering program with Thinkimpact, we tried to help the people from the community of Las Delicias improve their life quality in three weeks, it was a big challenge yet really rewarding.

Summer 2015 Participant
Catherine, the professor, was unbelievable. She was extremely helpful, knowledgeable, and understanding. She made the trip even better with her upbeat attitude and genuine personality. Working with ThinkImpact was a little different. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I believe they weren't as prepared for us as they should have been. I believe the program they are running is amazing but the staff we worked with wasn't as professional or prepared as expected.

Summer 2015 Participant
I lived in a home stay basically in the middle of the a jungle. There was chickens, ducks, dogs, and geese that lived basically in my kitchen. It was a good fit for me. Our daily commute was about a mile walk up a dirt road.

Summer 2015 Participant
The activities were awesome. The excretion to the San Blas islands was one of the coolest experiences of my entire life. Panama Canal was awesome too

Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline App Review Begins Start Date End Date
Maymester 2018 01-FEB-2018 ** 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.