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Off-Campus Study

Lake Forest College Border Studies

At the end of their spring semester on campus, students travel to the U.S.-Mexico border for the final three weeks of the Border Studies program, spending time in Arizona and Mexico observing and considering issues of immigration, trade, and  labor rights.


Professor Carolyn Tuttle, Program Chair and leader of each group, spoke about the 2012 program:
“The controversy over the impacts of the U.S. immigration policy and NAFTA were discussed in classes at Lake Forest College, and then the students got the opportunity to witness their impact on Mexican families living on both sides of the border,” said Professor Tuttle. “We visited migrant shelters (in Mexico), a Border Patrol Station (in the U.S.) and talked with Grupo Beta (in Mexico) and ICE (in U.S.) as well as lived with families in Agua Prieta, Sonora. It was a life changing experience for many of the students involved.”

Program Type

Lake Forest College Program


Lake Forest, Illinois; Tucson, Arizona; Agua Prieta, Mexico; Nogales, Mexico

Languages of Instruction

English and Spanish


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have at least second-semester sophomore status before participation. (Transfer students may participate after first semester on campus)
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5
  • One year of college-level Spanish or equivalent – no exceptions


Students enroll in LNAM 280: “The Mexican-American Border” as one of their four spring courses. LNAM 280 is cross listed as BUSN 280, ECON 280, IREL 280, and SPAN 201.

The travel portion of the course takes place for three weeks in May. Students travel to Arizona, spending time in Tucson and Douglas, preparing for the trip across the border and the homestay in Mexico.

Following the orientation in Tucson, students will take a travel seminar along the U.S. side of the border and then spend one week in Agua Prieta, Mexico, where they will live with host families, attend presentations, participate in a service project, and learn from integrative field work. The course requires participation in both the on-campus class and the three week border component.

Experiential Opportunities

This program involves both site visits and service projects. Past organizations in which students were involved include:

In Tucson
Tour of Border Patrol station
Visit and reflect on the wall
Make lunches at Casa Maria
Fill water tanks for Humane Borders organization


In Agua Prieta
Tour of maquiladoras
Visit several colonias
Serve dinner at migrant shelter
Presentation with Grupa Beta
Market basket survey

Community Service and
Non-Profit Groups
In Tucson
No More Deaths
Derechos Humanos
Southside Presbyterian Church’s day labor center
Humane Borders
The Samaritans


In Mexico
Children’s Food Security Program
Adult Education Programs
Children’s Education Programs
Dougla-Prieta Trabaja
Habitat for Humanity
Dessarrollo Integral de la Familia     (DIF)

Housing and Meals

During the spring semester course, students participate in their campus residence and meal plan as normal.


While participating in the three-week travel component, all participants and program leaders live together at community centers. 


Most meals are covered by the program during the three-week travel period.

Financial Information

Students pay their normal tuition and fees for the spring semester.

For the required three-week travel program, the estimate for the 2018 program is estimated to be $2,400.  That number includes the round-trip airfare from Chicago, housing, and most meals.


Participants can expect to pay additional fees for passports, visas (if required), and immunizations.