WINTER 2021 PROGRAM UPDATE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, SFS has suspended all Winter 2021 programs. Students interested in this program are welcome to apply now for Winter 2022 or consider a spring or summer program. Check out the Panama Center page to see other programs offered at this location.
This winter break, snorkel and traverse the diverse ecosystems of Panama’s Bocas del Toro Archipelago – from coral reefs and mangroves to beaches and rainforests. On this 200-level introductory course, you’ll go behind the scenes of this ‘paradise’ to examine the impacts of tourism and climate change, discuss conservation methods, and learn how to assess health of coastal ecosystems and identify key marine and terrestrial species.
Snorkel in the waters of the archipelago among coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds as you study sea stars, turtles, dolphins, and schools of tropical fish.
Program Costs & Financial Aid
Meet Your Admissions Counselor
SFS provides a comprehensive study abroad experience during a 6-day/week program schedule. SFS delivers the highest level of support and an unparalleled academic experience.
In addition to SFS program costs, students should plan for some additional expenses estimated
Round-trip airfare: $700
Medical costs (varies): $800
Personal spending: $500
Total Additional Expenses: $2,200
All students are welcome to apply for our need-based financial aid. Students who exhibit financial need for their program will be offered SFS financial aid. SFS aid is offered through a combination of scholarships, grants and loans.
Pell Grant Match
SFS matches Federal Pell Grant funding for students applying to an SFS semester program.
Many SFS students receive aid through their home institutions or other outside sources, so check with your financial aid office to see what aid may apply to an SFS program.
Amy was raised in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. She joined the SFS team after graduating in 2010 from Boston University with a degree in environmental analysis and policy. Her life-long passion for the environment and exploration was piqued by her own personal experience with SFS while participating in the Summer 2009 Session in Kenya, where she and her fellow classmates studied the national parks near Nairobi and Lake Nakuru and their relationship with the surrounding communities. Her study abroad experience enriched her passion and interest in the environment and society’s role in its conservation, and she is excited to help students benefit in the same way.
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 Panama.
Major academic themes include:
Rainforest and marine ecology
Marine protected areas
Climate change impacts
On the Foundations of Tropical Coastal Ecology 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.
SFS 2781 Principles of Tropical Coastal Ecology (3 credits)
is an interdisciplinary, field-based course that introduces students to the ecology of coastal and marine ecosystems. Students learn to identify the major groups of dominant species in these habitats and understand the complexity of ecosystem functions in a delicate island-based marine context. The concept of island biogeography helps to frame the examination of the status of tropical island systems, especially those prone to perturbations related to climate change. Students conduct field exercises in several coastal habitats including reefs, mangroves, intertidal zones, seagrass beds, and nearshore forests.
You will gain practical skills in the field such as: marine biodiversity assessments and survey techniques, species ID and population monitoring, animal behavior observation, tourism impact assessments, coral health assessments, snorkel skills.
You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include coral reefs, coastal forests and beaches, mangrove forests and seagrass meadows, marine protected areas, and the vibrant small-town community of Bocas.
The Center, once a beachfront hotel, is nestled among the slender palms of Isla Colón. You’ll take your classes over the warm waters of the Caribbean and amid the surrounding rainforests and reefs. The laid-back tourist hub of Bocas Town is a short taxi ride away, with access to shops, restaurants, and a vibrant culture that is as unique as the mix of people who live here.
Dorm living in four-person bunkrooms
Classroom on a sheltered dock above the ocean
Air-conditioned student lounge and lab
Casual al-fresco dining area, and on-site cooking staff
Swimming pool, kayaking, and paddleboarding
Volleyball, spikeball, and beachfront hammocks
Click on the icons below to learn more about our Center in Panama.