IFSA Design Thinking, Business, and Liberal Arts

Barcelona, Spain


Fall, Spring
Language of Instruction


Language Prerequisite


Finance Options
Scholarships, grants, financial aid, monthly payment plan, credit card payments and more!
Application Deadlines:
  • Fall: April 15
  • Spring: October 1
Min. GPA for Consideration:
Typical Credit Load:

About Design Thinking, Business, and Liberal Arts

Find yourself in Barcelona! This charming Catalan city will inspire and empower you to live your best life. Whether your passion for design, business or politics, the city of Barcelona holds important lessons to be learned for those curious enough to explore.

Design Thinking, Business, and Liberal Arts Benefits


  • Build your own curriculum with IFSA-taught courses and electives at the Universitat Autonoma Barcelona
  • Develop your independence as you explore the easy to navigate city streets and live in your own apartment with international and American roommates
  • Travel and see the rest of Europe in your free time - Paris, Rome, London, and Prague (and many more) are only a short and inexpensive flight or train away
  • No language study is required, but we'll make sure you're ready with survival Catalan during orientation
  • Jump start your career journey with an internship

The IFSA Difference

Your success is our success! Whatever your goals, our approach is carefully designed to help you achieve them.
You will experience challenging, rewarding coursework in the highest quality classes, while receiving the academic support you need.
More than a tourist in a foreign country, you will engage in the community, build competencies, and develop yourself as a citizen of the world.
Our programs and practices reflect the value we place on diverse perspectives and are designed to support a variety of learners.
Round out your classroom experience with hands-on opportunities like internships, directed research, student teaching, community-based learning or volunteering, and cultural excursions.
You will have academic and personal mentors to assist with program choice, application, travel, cultural acclimation, language acquisition, class registration, academic issues, health and safety, and everything in between.

Academics at Design Thinking, Business, and Liberal Arts

Build your own curriculum with a combination of IFSA-taught courses and UAB electives. Mix and match five subjects for a total of 15 U.S. semester credit hours. Each course is worth 3 U.S. semester credit hours. In addition to your courses. you'll take Essential Catalan, a 15-hour 1 U.S. semester credit hour course in contemporary Catalan language taught intensively during the first weeks of the program.
Essential Catalan  By introducing key words and phrases in the classroom—and venturing out into the city to practice them—this class also provides insights into local customs and daily life. Right from the start, you'll gain essential skills to communicate effectively and navigate in a new culture. 

Choose two program courses from the list below. IFSA-taught courses explore disciplines through the lens of the self and the city, helping you to understand the subject in the context of Barcelona, and to apply lessons learned to your future self.

Catalan Identity and Politics (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
This is a cross-disciplinary that analyses the reasons behind the emergence of contemporary political separatism. It begins with the origins of Catalan identity by discussing the historical background, including Francoism and the Transition to democracy and a conflictive, though often peaceful, history with the Spanish state. Moving into the fields of political sociology and political science, the course addresses constitutional arrangements, political parties, linguistic normalization, immigration, and minority rights. The pivotal secessionist events of recent years are examined as part of students developing understanding of identity issues in Catalonia, including important nuances of Barcelona's dual role as a traditional regional capital but also a global city.

Design Thinking (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
Design thinking is a powerful approach to solving a wide variety of problems across many different disciplines. In this experiential course, students will learn how to flexibly sort through and solve challenges and pursue opportunities. At its coure design thinking relies on creativity; and unless one has already unleashed their innate creativity, the power of design thinking is constrained. Therefore , in this truly interdisciplinary course students will build their "creative confidence," learn design thinking, and apply these skills to a variety of challenges as they actively engage in the creative process individually and in teams.

Exploring Barcelona: Identity in a Multinational Society (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
This Exploring Community & Culture course takes students study abroad experience to another level. It includes a seminar, meeting for three hours every week, in which students learn the historical, social, political and economic context of Barcelona. As part of the course, students are encouraged to join a community of their choosing, participate in unique guided field trips and write essays on their daily experiences in Barcelona.

Food Culture and Spanish Society (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
Understanding food in culture and society is a local and global concern. Through anthropological and sociological lenses, students will consider the importance and roles of food in our personal and social lives. Even though we need food to survive and it is present in every society and culture, we cannot take for granted that we eat the same food for the same reasons at the same time; or assume that food is available everywhere with the same quality and under the same conditions. It is a matter of national security and is tied to economic growth. Situated in the fascinating culinary settee of Barcelona, this course examines food as part of national heritage, cultural identity, and as a sometimes controversial product for tourist consumption.

Internship and Methodology Seminar (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
Students will be placed in individual internships but will collectively take part in the seminar to be prepared for the experience, understand expectations, set personal objectives, identify and strengthen specific skills, critically reflect on their progress, share experiences, and learn from one other throughout. A carefully selected series of progress-focused assignments complements these learning activities, including a Personal Skills Survey, Internship Journals and Summaries, Response Papers, and a Final Presentation and Paper. Knowledge of the Spanish work environment and the transferability of skills acquired is another important component of this learning experience. Students will gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their goals, their professional areas, as well as Spanish work culture. In this seminar, which is focused on understanding the application of theory to practice, students gain real world work experience while developing intercultural agility--skills and experiences which are critically important to personal, academic and professional success. 

Linguistic Anthropology (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
This course examines the complex interplay of language and culture and the ways in which it impacts everyday practice. Language as a human condition will be investigated through and anthropological lens, using theory to understand the use of language and how it is a fundamental difference among peoples and communities. The course combines basic ideas of anthropology with those of linguistics, fostering students understanding' of how linguistic anthropologists study language, culture, and society. The course also brings in concepts from sociolinguistics to further develop student's awareness of how we acquire language, what it means for language to express meaning, what dialogue looks and sounds like within diverse cultures, how these questions relate to identity, and to explore attitudes and ideologies about varieties of language. 

Service Operations Management (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
This course is designed to explore, challenge and refine the principals of service operations Management in hospitality and tourism operations. The foundation is built upon an understanding that service excellence is achieved through strategy, systems and staff. By the end of this course, students should have an understanding and appreciation for facility designs and layouts, planning and analyzing service delivery system, defining and measuring service quality, and service recovery. Additionally, students will know strategies for managing demand and supply and making continual improvements a competitive strategy. Barcelona as a city of tourism provides the ideal backdrop for an up-close examination of these issues.

Social Media Marketing in the Age of Self (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
This course will outfit students with the tools and expertise to develop strategic and comprehensive social media marketing plans that integrate with overall marketing and communications efforts to achieve business goals. Through case studies and hands-on exercises, students will develop a deep understanding of social media platforms and best practices, leveraging these channels to elevate one's reach and reputation. Topics include choosing appropriate platforms, creating effective and engaging social media content, and developing social media policies and content management strategies. The class emphasizes social listening, ethics and diversity.

Social Psychology (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
Social psychology examines the perceptions, thoughts, feelings and behaviors of individuals within their social environments. In this course, methodologies used to investigate social psychology phenomena are introduced, aiding understanding of the application of social psychology research to real-world problems. Special attention is devoted to issues of socioeconomic class in Spain. This course includes three investigative field visits to diverse Barcelona neighborhoods, providing vibrant context for discussions.

Choose three electives at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB). Courses are available in art & architecture, business, communication, economics and politics, Mediterranean studies, and Spanish language. Most courses are taught in English; some classes can be taken in Spanish for students with level B2 language proficiency. See the UAB course catalog for up-to-date offerings.
Experiential Learning
Internships are available in a variety of fields. Interns work for 8 hours per week and attend the Internship Methodology Seminar every week. When applying for the program, you should complete the Internship Intent Form, and be prepared to interview for your internship placement in the first or second week of the program. Internships are jointly supervised by your site supervisor and Internship Methodology Seminar Instructor, and coordinated by the Resident Director.
After you return to the U.S., IFSA will send an official Butler University transcript to your home university with your coursework converted to the U.S. credit system. You will also have access to an unofficial transcript in your IFSA Student Portal. The transcript reflects courses taken, credits attempted, and grades earned during your term abroad. This service is included in your study abroad program at no additional cost
Subjects offered at Design Thinking, Business, and Liberal Arts
Ancient History Anthropology Archaeology Architecture and Design Art History Business Communications Community Studies Cultural Studies Economics Entrepreneurship and Innovation Environmental Engineering European History European Studies Finance Foreign Language, Other History Hospitality & Tourism Human Resources International Business International Studies/Affairs/Relations Kinesiology/Exercise Science Linguistics Literature Management Marketing Media/Multimedia Studies Middle Eastern Studies Museum Studies Organizational Leadership Organizational Management Painting Photography Policy Studies/Public Policy Political Science Population Studies/Demography Psychology Religious Studies Sociology Spanish Sports and Recreation Management Studio Art Translation Urban Studies Women and Gender Studies World History

Housing & Meals

Housing Type
Linens are provided in all housing arrangements.

The IFSA Team

IFSA has a dedicated team who are here to help you prepare to achieve your goals. Feel free to reach out. We are happy to answer your questions!

Program Advisor

Nikki Bruckmann's headshot

Nikki Bruckmann

Director. Program Advisor for Czech Republic, England, Ireland, Italy, and Spain

317-940-4257 nbruckma@ifsa-butler.org Read Full Bio   Schedule Time to Talk

Resident Director

Sandra Rodriquez Pareja's headshot

Sandra Rodriquez Pareja

Resident Director, Barcelona

Read Full Bio  

Academic Affairs Director

Dates and Fees

Spring 2021

Program Dates

Program Start Date
Early January 2021
Program End Date
Late April 2021

Program Fees

Total Program Fee
Coming Soon
Students pay a $500 non-refundable program deposit upon confirmation of attendance. The deposit is applied to the total program fee.

Estimated Costs

Books & Supplies
Local Transportation
Personal Expenses
(Includes utilities, laundry, entertainment, expected start-up costs, etc. Does not include personal travel.)
Total Estimated Costs

Fall 2020

Program Dates

Program Start Date
September 25, 2020
Program End Date
December 18, 2020

Program Fees

Total Program Fee
Students pay a $500 non-refundable program deposit upon confirmation of attendance. The deposit is applied to the total program fee.

Estimated Costs

Books & Supplies
Local Transportation
Personal Expenses
(Includes utilities, laundry, entertainment, expected start-up costs, etc. Does not include personal travel.)
Total Estimated Costs