summer session I

Costa Rica

Biodiversity and Sustainable Food Systems


This academically rigorous program follows a six-day/week schedule. The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to help students actively discover and understand the complexities of environmental, social, and economic issues in Costa Rica. Read more about the SFS program model.

Major academic themes include:

  • Climate change adaptation
  • Agriculture and agroforestry
  • Ecological impacts of coffee and cacao production
  • Ecotourism and culinary tourism
  • Social justice issues surrounding sustainable food systems
  • Organic and mono-crop farming methods


On the Biodiversity and Sustainable Food Systems program, you will take one 4-credit course. This course is participatory in nature and is designed to foster inquiry and active learning combining lectures, field exercises, assignments, and tests. This course is taught in English.

Click on the course to view a description and download the syllabus

SFS 3141 Coffee, Chocolate, and Sustainable Development 4 credits

Core Skills

You will gain practical skills in the field such as: agricultural impacts assessment, ecosystem health survey, water quality testing, basic Spanish language skills, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, scientific writing, and research presentation.

Field Sites

You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include coffee farms, cacao plantations, other agroecosystems and farms, agrotourism businesses, and the forests and rainforest ecosystems around agricultural areas.

Where You'll Be Living

The Center is an active organic farm overlooking the vibrant Central Valley, where green is the predominant color as far as the eye can see. Dorms and classrooms intermingle with orchards and gardens, while Center dog Hera keeps watch over it all. The friendly town of Atenas is a 10-minute cab ride away, offering restaurants, shops, parks, and cultural events.

  • Dorm living with 4-person bunkrooms
  • Classroom, library, computer lab, and laundry room
  • Open-air porch with hammocks and chairs
  • Dining hall with scenic valley views, and on-site cooking staff
  • Swimming pool, soccer field, basketball court, and pizza oven
  • Outdoor classroom and hiking trails

Click on the icons below to learn more about our Center in Costa Rica.