Coffee: An International Seminar


Details coming: SOON!
Anticipated dates: late December 2014-mid January 2015
Application deadline: April 1, 2014


So what does it really take to make a cup of coffee?
The social network that stretches from your coffee cup all the way back to that little tree nestled somewhere on a tropical mountainside is vast and complex. This seminar will introduce its participants to some of the people and processes that make up this network. In this seminar students will have the opportunity to meet and work alongside those who labor in every stage of production. Discover the people and conditions behind what so many around the world take for granted.

SOC291/SWK291: Production and Place—Coffee Production in Guatemala (2–4 cr) provides students with an opportunity to get to know the people who cultivate the soil, tend the trees, and pick the cherries in the coffee fields of Guatemala. We will work alongside them, share meals with them, and hear their stories. We will meet the people who extract the beans from the fleshy fruit and who wash, sort, and grade them. We will talk with the people who buy and sell the beans, who transport them, who roast them, and who prepare and package them for sale on the retail market. We will observe the conditions of exchange that inhere between the parties all along the chain. We will examine various ways in which these processes have been organized, and we will hear what Guatemalans say about how those various arrangements have impacted their lives, their families, and their communities.

To learn more about one student's experience in the seminar, visit the Coffee Seminar photojournal.



  • Guatemala City
  • Various locations in western highlands of Guatemala
  • Lake Atitlan



SOC291/SWK291: Production and Place—Coffee Production in Guatemala (2–4 cr) will try to make visible much of what we unwittingly take for granted when we pour that cup of coffee. In doing so, it should prompt reflection on the responsibilities that we share as consumers, as citizens, and as followers of Jesus in an increasingly interdependent world.

This course will be taught through a combination of lecture, discussion, and field work. Consequently, students are expected to actively participate in the development and direction of this course. Students are expected to come to class fully prepared, to ask questions, to introduce ideas and topics for discussion, and to participate in discussions.

  • Guest and Faculty lectures
  • Assigned readings
  • Class discussions
  • Visits to
    • Coffee fields
    • Packaging plants
    • Local business
  • Field work
  • Learning projects

REQUIRED MEETINGS PRE- and POST SEMINAR  will be held prior to Christmas break and after the seminar. Details pending.


Registration for the seminar is handled by the GEO. Students will be registers after receipt of the $450 deposit.



The approximate total cost for the program is $3,300** which includes tuition, round trip airfare from Boston to Guatemala City, entrance fees, room and board, as well as ground transportation.

**NOTE: Actual cost dependent on final airfare rate and the exchange rate when travel expenses are arranged.

After the non-refundable application fee and program deposits have been paid, the remainder will be billed to student accounts during the fall billing period. Full details are available from Student Financial Services.

Participants are required to acquire their own passports and secure any needed immunizations. Please go to the CDC website for Guatemala and read over all the information there.



The Coffee Seminar welcomes applications from students from all majors who are interested in questions of justice and sustainability.

  • Fill out an online application (link here)
  • Contact  in the Sociology Department regarding your interest in the program
  • Submit a $30 non-refundable application fee to the Global Education Office
  • Submit applications no later than April 1 2014

Upon acceptance to the program a $450 program deposit is due.



For further information contact:

The Global Education Office
P 978.867.4399

Dr. Daniel C. Johnson
P 978.867.4407