Skip to content

Programs : Brochure

This page is the brochure for your selected program. You can view the provided information for this program on this page and click on the available buttons for additional options.
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):
2 - sophomore
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
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:
Summer 2015 Participant
I felt completely safe everywhere I was. It was more safe than walking around boulder.

Melissa Grover, Summer 2017 Participant
When in the city, we stayed in the beautiful Magnolia Inn hostel; all of the girls shared a room and there were two rooms for the guys on our trip. The hostel was in very nice condition and felt extremely safe. It also had a prime location for any restaurants or shopping someone could want. Our housing in the community was vastly different on the other hand, but not necessarily bad. We had homestays in the community and this was a slight culture shock, as many of us had homes with big families and the style of living is very different. I loved the homestays because it allowed us to see how people in these communities truly live and we came to understand that for most people only the bare necessities are important. We had a ThinkImpact van drive us while we were in the city, and we mostly walked in the community.

Melissa Grover, Summer 2017 Participant
It was very useful to have our community meetings and have the opportunity to talk to the members of Pierdas Gordas. Each meeting usually provided new, insightful information that allowed us to have a better understanding of the businesses in the town. Our community excursions included attending a soccer game in La Pintada, sitting in on a microfinance meeting in Las Delicias, and walking to a waterfall in Las Delicias. We had many nice meals when we stayed in Panama City and often would walk around to the market stalls or fish market. We also stayed in the San Blas Islands for two days in beautiful ocean huts. I loved all of the activities had, as I believe that we learned something from each and every one.

Summer 2015 Participant
It was an absolute blast. I really enjoyed the entire program

Melissa Grover, Summer 2017 Participant
Overall, I loved the course. It is both mentally and physically challenging, as you are constantly translating and trying to speak Spanish, are in a new environment, and remain busy most days. It was nice to have no internet or service for the full two weeks in the community, although you can have these if you visit the local government house or have a plan, as it acted as almost a detox and allowed me to fully focus on what I was learning and experiencing. We encountered some obstacles when deciding what our community project would be, but it still wasn't a very difficult task. The classwork before the trip includes a lot of reading and discussion, but also wasn't that challenging. Our teacher knew how to guide discussions well and made sure we stayed on the right path, while also playing devils advocate.

Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline App Review Begins Start Date End Date
Summer 2017 13-MAR-2017
Variable 15-MAY-2017 04-JUN-2017
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 2018 01-MAR-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.

Indicates that deadline has passed