Social Innovation Field Study in Colombia

Develop entrepreneurial leadership skills while exploring the history and culture of Colombia, with an emphasis on the role of social innovation in a time of rapid development and change.

Pre-departure work: July 15 - August 20, 2018
In Colombia: August 20 - August 31, 2018

Program Overview
Students in the Portland State University Social Innovation Field Study in Colombia will gain first-hand experience working alongside social entrepreneurs while exploring challenges and opportunities for social innovation. Through virtual pre-departure readings and meetings, and a two-week, on-the-ground program, students will develop a deeper understanding of Colombian culture, history, and sociopolitical change by exploring the challenges and opportunities for social entrepreneurship in context. The program is co-hosted by leading Colombian business, public, and social impact organizations, including Universidad EAN and Mercy Corps, and culminates with student presentations for Colombian dignitaries and decision-makers.

The pre-departure program begins June 25, with required readings and online seminars. The in-person component begins in Bogota on August 20. Students are housed at a hotel in the Northeast part of Bogotá, and transportation by bus is arranged each day. The daily agenda begins around 8am. Many evenings are free for students, and they are welcome to explore the city. Students may arrive in Colombia early, or stay after the program to explore the country independently. The program is co-hosted by leading Colombian business, public, and social impact organizations, including Universidad EAN and Mercy Corps, and culminates with student presentations for Colombian dignitaries and decision-makers.

Pre-departure: Readings and short assignments to gain perspective on Colombia in context. 

Week I in Colombia: Students gain an in-depth of understanding of contemporary Colombian life, politics, and culture, and of the historic context for recent social change. In conversation with journalists, political leaders, and social entrepreneurs, students will begin to understand the constraints and opportunities of this complex country and region. With custom tours of the city and countryside, students observe the connection between environment and practice in social entrepreneurship.

Week II in Colombia: Students meet and begin work with social entrepreneurs and academics who are addressing pressing social and environmental problems with creative and innovative new ideas. At the end of the last week, students present their work and their insights at a lively event with Colombian dignitaries, international development experts, and education leaders.

Daily schedules and activiites include:

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Site visits, meetings, and intimate interviews with leading professionals from across sectors in Colombia
  • Entrepreneurial leadership development exercises and experiences
  • Hands-on activities and projects with social entrepreneurs and local students and academics
  • Applying design thinking and business model frameworks to assess market failures and strategy problems
  • Absorbing local culture through food, history, and adventure
  • Periodic evening engagements

Eligibility and Application

The program is open to students and professionals. Participants who are not currently PSU students must enroll as non-degree seeking students at Portland State University.

To apply:

Step I. (First step for ALL applicants)

  • Go to
  • Click search for programs
  • In the program name field type in “SBA” and click search.
  • Find “PSU Faculty-Led Colombia: SBA Social Innovation in Colombia” and select it.
  • On the program informational page click “apply now.”
  • You will be prompted on how you indicate to log in, select “New User Registration” and take the steps to create an account.

Step II. (Must be completed by non-PSU students)

  • Go to Portland State University's online application system and create a login and password. (Remember to write down your info so you can access your application later.)
  • Select Non-Degree Undergraduate
  • With your application you must submit a non-refundable $25 application fee; you will be required to pay this via Visa or MasterCard. A $2.00 processing fee will apply.
  • Keep your browser window open after you submit to view your welcome message, including your PSU ID number.
  • Email your PSU ID number to with the subject line: Colombia Application

The Social Innovation Field Study qualifies for the required field study component of Portland State University’s Social Innovation Certificate and for the Portland MBA. PSU students will receive 4 graduate or undergraduate credits for participation. Grades and credits will be reflected on academic transcripts.

Non-PSU students will receive transcript credit for participation, however credits will not be applied to a degree program at Portland State University.

Grades are determined based on quality of participation, interpersonal dynamics, written work, and presentation skills.

Faculty and Staff
The program is led by Dr. Ted Khoury, Associate Professor, Management & Strategy
Research focus on entrepreneurship in developing nations, teaching experience in Colombia along with leadership development and entrepreneurship experts with experience in international education and social innovation. The program is led in partnership with faculty and staff from University EAN in Bogota.

Program Costs
Program fee for summer 2018: USD $5,500
Includes: tuition, field study costs, housing in Bogota, and program sponsored excursions.
Does not include: Airfare, meals outside programmed agenda, and travel outside programmed agenda.

Need-based scholarships are available up to $400.00 per student by application. Email for application information and deadlines.

Sample Course Materials  


"I traveled to Colombia last Fall with the MBA Social Entrepreneurship program, and returned to Colombia just four months later to start my new career in the international specialty coffee industry. It was the perfect launching pad for the transition I was looking for post-graduation. I selected the Colombia Social Entrepreneurship trip because I wanted to meet other inspired and passionate people from PSU and in Colombia who were using business to make a positive impact on the world.

Not only was the content of the international experience excellent, but Colombia is an amazing country with so much to offer. The people are warm and social, the food is delicious (fresh fruit galore), and the countryside is spectacular. I highly recommend signing up for this trip, and please reach out to me if you have any questions!"

- Danya Rose-Merkle, PSU Colombia Field Study Alum '17