winter session

Costa Rica

Foundations of 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.

Major academic themes include:

  • Agriculture and agroforestry
  • Ecological impacts of agriculture
  • Sustainable food systems
  • Indigenous agricultural knowledge and practices
  • Organic and mono-crop farming methods
  • Gender roles in agriculture
  • Agri- and culinary tourism


On the Foundations of Sustainable Food Systems program, you will take one 3-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

SFS 3221 Sustainable Food Systems in Costa Rica 3 credits

Core Skills

You will gain practical skills in the field such as: terrestrial biodiversity assessments and survey techniques, species ID and population monitoring, agricultural impact assessments, environmental impact assessments, conservation strategy assessments, scientific writing and communication.

Field Sites

You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include coffee farms, cacao plantations, other agroecosystems and farms, and agritourism businesses.

Life in the Field

The Center overlooks the vibrant Central Valley, where green is the predominant color as far as the eye can see. As part of an active sustainable farm, dorms and classrooms are nestled among 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 four-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, outdoor classroom and pizza oven
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farm