Global Service Learning: Puerto Rico


This program is on pause for 2022 but is expected to return for spring break 2023. 

This program is designed for students with an interest in consulting and non-profit management who are seeking a hands-on, project-based experience that will allow you to develop professional skills while benefiting a global community partner. In Purto Rico, we work with,Caras con Causa, an orgnization focused on community development through education and environmental preservation projects. You'll be enrolled in a three credit course and spend the week of spring break in San Juan working directly with Caras.  To get a better idea of the program and project, be sure to check out past participants' blogs here!

The Global Service Learning program gives you the opportunity to use your business skills to make a difference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This hands-on, semester-long project will give you initial exposure to consulting work, as well as exposure to the environment of an international non-profit organization. You will be pushed to put your business knowledge to the test and gain new skills in order to help meet the needs of the local community. To be successful, you must be flexible, open, patient, hard-working, and able to handle yourself professionally in delicate community situations. 

About our community partner: CARAS de las Americas | CARAS is an innovative nonprofit organization that coordinates educational projects to promote environmental development in partnership with communities in Puerto Rico. Their current work focuses on two main projects: (1) working on developing different mechanisms to introduce seed germination of red, white, black, and button mangroves and mangrove restoration and (2) after school programs teaching young children about the interdependence of ecosystems and general tutoring in the community of Vietnam.

This program is a partnership between Pitt Business and the Pitt Business Student Organizations (PBSO). Participants must be active members a PBSO and will receive automatic $2000 scholarships (see Pricing and Dates section for details). Business students pursuing the Certificate Program in Innovation and Entrepreneurship will also be considered and will recieve automatic $2000 scholarships.

Interested Environmental Science and Environmental Studies students are encouraged to apply and will also recieve $2000 scholarships if accepted into the program. 

What You'll Accomplish: 

As an engaged and active participant in this program, you will have the opportunity to develop:

  • global experience in effective project management through active community engagement 
  • the abiilty to apply business skills that make a difference in the community through a non-profit consulting project
  • an understanding of the impact of service-learning on leadership and global competence


Puerto Rico is Spanish for Rich Port, and this US territory in the Caribbean is indeed rich in history, culture, natural scenery, and more – making it a popular destination for world travelers. Official languages are English and Spanish, although Spanish is predominantly spoken. The commonwealth has a unique administrative relationship with the United States, which affects everything from economics, trade, taxes, and the rights of Puerto Ricans. Industry in Puerto Rico is centered on manufacturing and service, with tourism providing many employment opportunities for Puerto Ricans.
San Juan is the second-oldest European-founded settlement in the Americas, and a city where old meets new in fascinating ways. Amid the colonial-era forts and beautiful beaches are neighborhoods vibrant with street art, music, and restaurants. You’ll see why San Juan is a popular tourist destination!
Across the bay is the municipality of Catano, the focal point for the service learning project. You’ll learn about the environmental hazards impacting the beaches and mangroves, and spend time working with the local community, advocating for environmental improvements of these places. 

Where You'll Live: 

Students will stay in a hotel in San Juan, which is tentatively the Hotel San Jorge, located in the neighborhood of Santurce. You can expect your housing to include:

  • Double occupancy rooms
  • Shared bathroom
  • Wifi
  • Airconditioning
  • Linens and towels
  • light breakfast fare


What You'll Study: 

You will earn three credits for the program through 'BUS 1755 - Service Learning in Organizations'. The academic course will take place during the spring semester on Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:00pm - 3:15pm. 
For Pitt Business students, this course fulfills a foreign culture requirement, a social sciences requirement, an elective towards the Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the functional elective towards the Certificate Program in Leadership and Ethics, and the Projects in Global Management Capstone for Global Management majors.

Service Learning in Organizations (BUS1755)

This course explores service learning as a form of active learning that values critical thinking and problem solving. When service-learning is effectively implemented, students gain in measures of academic achievement, citizenship, and leadership competence. There are several components of the service learning (SL) approach:

  • SL uses community service as the vehicle for the attainment of students' academic goals and objectives.
  • Community service fills a need in the community through volunteer efforts. Service-learning also fills that need, but it uses that need as a foundation to examine ourselves, society, and the future. Further, service-learning provides students with opportunities to use newly acquired skills and knowledge in real-life situations.
  • SL identifies in advance and tracks specific learning objectives and goals.
  • Students perform a valuable, significant, and necessary service which has real consequence to a community, organization or other stakeholder group.
  • SL enhances student learning by joining theory with experience and thought with action; it also helps students to see the relevance of academic subject to the real world.
  • SL also builds leadership competence through practice, reflection and active engagement.

Upon completion of the course, students will have accomplished the following:

  1. Developed an understanding of the concept of servant leadership and how it explains the inextricable link between ethics and effective leadership.
  2. Studied the key characteristics of servant leadership and how they related to and impact both personal and business success.
  3. Enhanced one's project management skills by working as part of a team on a servant leadership project.
  4. Develop critical leadership skills such as conflict resolution, negotiations and high impact communication.
  5. Applied course concepts to a relevant example in the service learning project, in which the teams work on a specific external project related to leadership, social responsibility, and ethics in business.
  6. Applied course concepts using a case analysis, business plan, and/or presentation to a client.
Experiential Learning Description: 

Service-learning is a great example of experiential learning. This course is a project-based, hands-on experience, and you should be prepared to utilize the consulting and transferrable skills discussed in class lectures toward your project deliverables during your time working in-country with the community organization. You will be supported by Pitt Business faculty, staff, and executives-in-residence throughout the experience.

The Global Service Learning program is a partnership between Pitt Business International Programs and our local non-profit partner, Amizade. You will be supported through the duration of the project by faculty and staff from Pitt Business, staff from Amizade, and members of the community organization you are working with. You'll be accompanied by a Pitt Business International Programs staff member for the in-country portion of the program. 

Your Pitt Study Abroad Contacts: 

Steph Spirk

Hola, hallo, hi!  I'm Steph Spirk, and I am an International Programs Manager for Pitt Business.  I am a yinzer, very proud to call Pittsburgh my home, yet my love for cultural exchange has always led me to new places, even ones I never thought I'd go to before.  I was a Pitt student myself, becoming an expert on study abroad by participating in three programs: Global Service Learning in Bolivia, the International Internship Program in Madrid, and an exchange program at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.  I speak fluent Spanish and German at an advanced level.  In my free time you'll find me practicing yoga in the square, hiking through the many parks, painting, and capturing the beauty of Pittsburgh and beyond through the lens of my camera.
Looking forward to chatting with yinz!

Schedule an appointment

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Your In-Country Contacts: 

Hillary Koller

Hello! I’m Hillary, Director of Pitt Business International Programs. I originally hail from New Jersey, but became a member of the Pitt community as an undergraduate student in 2002 and I have been here pretty much ever since. During my time at Pitt I’ve had the opportunity to accompany students abroad, and I’m excited to work with you to make your international experience a valuable one! When I’m not in the office, you can find me spending time in the great outdoors, reading, cooking, and taking a yoga or ballet class. Get in touch with me at


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To schedule an appointment with me, send me an email and we'll find a time that works for you!

Items Billed by Pitt

  In-State Out-of-State
Tuition $2,598 $2,598
Program Fee $1402 $1402
Study Abroad Fee $0 $0
Total Billed by Pitt $4,000 $4,000

Estimated Additional Out-of-Pocket Costs

Personal Expenses $200

Total Estimated Program Cost

  In-State Out-of-State

Total Estimated Cost of Program
(Includes items billed by Pitt and additional expenses)

$4,200 $4,200
The amounts above are for the 2019-2020 academic year and should be used as estimates only. Pricing for 2020-2021 will be posted and announced in the fall term.
What's Included: 

As a part of your program fee, the following are included:

  • Tuition
  • Round-trip flights from Pittsburgh-Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico-Pittsburgh
  • Housing
  • Cultural and project-related site visits
  • Transportation to and from all cultural and project-related site visits
  • Most meals
  • International health insurance

Remember that your lifestyle and spending choices can greatly affect the amount of money you'll need while abroad.  Visit our Budgeting page for more information.

When You'll Go: 

Dates for the 2020-2021 academic year will be posted in the fall! 

What Else You Need to Know: 

All students are required to attend the mandatory Agreement Meeting on Friday, October 11, 2019.  This afternoon long event will cover important topics relevant to study abroad like health, safety, security, and more.  Plus, it will give you the chance to meet other students studying abroad on your programs!  Alumni and staff will also be present to help you start thinking about your goals for the program. Your program manager will follow up with more information once you begin your application!
Students participating in the program will receive:

  • A $2,000 scholarship, bringing the program fee to $2,000

For additional scholarship opportunities, be sure to check out the Pitt Study Abroad Scholarship page
Students must be enrolled in the College of Business Administration or be an Environmental Sciences or Environmental Studies major to be eligible for the program.