In the early 2000s, Argentina suffered from a great economic depression, referred to as “the most severe emerging market crisis in history.” In 2002, at the peak of the crisis, the economy had shrunk by 28%, unemployment reached about 23%, and more than 50% of Argentines lived in poverty. Since 2003 however Argentina has been restructuring its social and employment policies, effectively addressing the social and economic crisis. Social and employment policies have become crucial to the political and social organization in the majority of today’s societies and are important characteristics of Argentinean society. Learning about the country’s political and social organization is therefore key to understand Argentina as well as the Latin American region as a whole. In addition, popular sectors across the region have a vast and active trajectory in the collective defense and protection of basic rights, which in turn affect public policy and development more broadly.
The International Field Project seeks to build knowledge around the interaction of social policy and development in Argentina. Students have the opportunity to critically study these interactions since the turn of the crisis, focusing on a diverse set of topics such as poverty reduction programs, human rights issues, educational policies, employment policies, the role of trade unions, or the role of the state in the global system. Research topics could explore questions such as: what policies proved particularly successful in reducing poverty, inequality, or unemployment? How did poverty develop since the 2002 crisis? How are certain programs and projects perceived by the Argentine people? How does inequality or poverty spatially manifest itself in the city of Buenos Aires or its Metropolitan Area? This type of research is key to understanding current challenges that Argentina and the region are facing, and the role that organizations and policies can play in mitigating global or regional shocks on democracy and equitable development.
The preparation during the spring semester will focus on establishing necessary theoretical background, identifying research fields, workshop ideas, and acquire necessary skills in preparation for the fieldwork. In addition, the IFP will have a theoretical-academic component while in the field. A cycle of lectures and seminars will be developed with professors and researchers from UMET as well as conferences/ workshops with public officials, and top academics from the entire Argentine university system. Research findings will be disseminated through a series of publications and conference presentations.
The project’s main partner is the university “Universidad Metropolitana para la Educación y el Trabajo” (UMET), a progressive university located in downtown Buenos Aires with a unique approach to education, that was founded by more than 60 trade unions. Through UMET, students will be placed in local organizations such as trade unions, human right organizations, municipalities, research centers, or offices of senators and congressmen.
Objectives and Outcomes
The objective of the Argentina IFP in 2018 is to provide students with a unique research-oriented experience, where lectures and interactions with peers from a different country will provide a more in-depth understanding of global problems at play in a specific context. In addition, students will produce new knowledge on the impacts of social policy, its merits and challenges, with the objective to promote quality research and student-led publications.
Applicants will be selected based on their research interests and their foreseen adaptability to a shifting context. Graduate and undergraduate students from other New School departments as well as from other universities are welcome to apply.
Tutorials in Research: Students pursuing their master’s/doctoral thesis and have a thesis plan will be assigned individual research tutors. The tutor will be selected according to the theme chosen by the students and will advise the student on the specific investigation of the Argentine case, and provide them with sources of information, diverse perspectives, and key interviews to carry out.
Leading Partner: Universidad Metropolitana para la Educación y el Trabajo (UMET)
Additionally, the region of Latin American and the global scenario are in a process of change. New players are consolidating as emerging powers, challenging the might of traditional powers, such as China, South Africa, and India. Latin America has developed innovative policies that, although with varying degrees and nuances, have achieved considerable success. Furthermore, the economic crisis unleashed on the western powers continues to be in force, thereby jeopardizing the most fundamental rights of the most vulnerable sectors of our societies. In parallel, globalization consolidates its successes but also its failures.
At this juncture, already existing social-political structures such as trade unions, human rights organizations, social movements, and even Parliament, have renewed their presence in the public arena for the defense of violated rights. At the same time, they have become exposed to the challenges imposed by the new regional and global context.
While all students will be affiliated with UMET, research projects will be conducted in collaboration with the following partner organizations, depending on the students’ interest:
- Trade union organizations or trade union confederations
- Human rights organizations that are linked to the fight against impunity during State Terrorism, such Abuelas of Madres de Plaza de Mayo, or HIJOS.
- Argentine congressmen with regional and international agenda and/or issues related to employment (both with Chamber of Deputies and Senators)
- Various research areas and centers within UMET, such as the Institute of Workers’ Statistics, CITRA, etc.
- Center for Metropolitan Studies
In order to be most effective when interacting with partnering organizations or conducting research, some Spanish proficiency prior to the IFP is required. In order to improve your language skills, Spanish classes will be offered in the first week(s) of the IFP.
Living in Buenos Aires
Students will live together in rented apartments in Buenos Aires, a beautiful city situated in the third largest metropolitan area in Latin America (after São Paulo and Mexico City). Due to its European influence, Buenos Aires is often referred to as the “Paris of Latin America.” There are plenty of beautiful cafés and restaurants, and although you will find the world’s best steak here, non-meat options are increasing as well. As Argentina is in the southern hemisphere, the IFP will take place in the winter, although the winter is much milder than New York’s, temperatures rarely fall below 10°C (50°F).