Welcome to GL/SP/COMS 4608 3.0 Narratives in/of Costa Rica.  Individuals, Communities and their Voices

Course instructor (Summer 2021): Alejandro Zamora, PhD (azamora@glendon.yorku.ca)

The course

This community-based course is part of the Semester Abroad Program offered in Las Nubes—York University’s  EcoCampus located in southern Costa Rica. It will be offered in May of 2021.

In this course we explore local narrative environments. The narratives we cover include community narratives, life stories, our own travel narratives, and various other narrative forms and practices.


During the course we meet with different communities, particularly from the Biological Corridor Alexander Skutch, to hear the stories that are important and meaningful to them, how these stories represent them, and how they are linked to others and to their environments. We reflect on individual and collective voices, and how such voices may differ from dominant narratives that may have been used to frame communities and their territories, activities, products, etc.

The activities we do include hiking to explore the region and develop a sense of the place; meeting as a group to learn narratives strategies and practices (i.e., we offer autobiography, life story and chronicle workshops); visiting indigenous communities, families, towns, markets; and conducting unstructured interviews and offering other opportunities for conversation and engagement.

At the end of the course students produce a narrative work incorporating the experiences in Costa Rica and reflecting on the act of telling stories. Depending on students’ interests and skills, projects may involve writing a chronicle, a travel journal, a life story, a digital story, an audio podcast, a blog, a photo essay, etc. This will also be an opportunity to reflect on writing as an act of (self) knowledge and as a means of building archives of memory, articulating communities, and fostering empathy.

Course activities and experiential learning

These are some of the course activities:

    • Class sessions in different locations such as Nauyuca Waterfalls, Ventanas Beach, York’s EcoCampus, University of Costa Rica
    • Narrative workshops (autoethnography, life story and chronicle/travel journal)
    • Meetings with indigenous communities, local artists, farmers and activists in Cabecar, Dominical and San Isidro


Language requirement

Spanish is not required for this course unless you are majoring in Spanish (in which case you are required to submit course work in Spanish to receive major credits). Before the course start you can talk to the professor and get guidance to sort out different levels of communication and understanding. The course’s flexibility in terms of language competence is part of its goal, as we aim to explore different ways of relating and interpreting across languages.

Who can take this course?

This Glendon course is open to all undergraduate (3rd and 4th year) and graduate students from any York program. It is offered by the Department of Hispanic Studies and is crosslisted with Glendon’s Communications program. It is recognized as an elective in the programs of Spanish (Glendon and Keele) and Communications (Glendon). Students in other programs should check with their program directors if it would be recognized as an elective in their program. If it is not accepted as an elective course for major credits in their program, students can still take this course to fulfill the 18 credit requirement of courses out side of major (a requirement across all programs at York). Students pursuing an iBA can also take it to fulfill the 12 credit requirement of internationally-oriented courses.

Ready to enroll?

Visit: yorku.ca/lasnubes

And contact the Program Coordinator:

Ana María Martínez, PhD