Center for Ecological Resilience Studies

Biodiversity and Sustainable Food Systems

Costa Rica
Summer Session 1
4 Weeks
4 Credits
Summer 2024
Jun 3 - Jul 2
Closed
Program Costs
  • Tuition$4,850
  • Room & Board$1,650
  • Total$6,500
Application Deadlines
Summer 2024
April 1, 2024
Summer Session 1 Program

Biodiversity and Sustainable Food Systems

,
Costa Rica

You’ll never look at a cup of coffee the same way again. Using coffee and chocolate as case studies, explore the relationships between food systems, ecology, conservation, and sustainability. Learn how different agricultural techniques have the potential to restore biodiversity and combat climate change. Study the sociocultural history of coffee and cacao, from Indigenous histories to modern production and exports. 

  • Visit an agroforestry cocoa system, where you’ll get hands on with local methods of chocolate production and processing. 
  • Visit El Toledo Coffee farm to learn about environmentally sound methods of coffee production and discuss the history and impacts of chocolate and coffee production in Latin America. 
  • Engage in the Center’s sustainable food efforts – gather fresh mangoes from campus trees, visit the chicken coop to gather eggs, harvest kale from the garden, master composting, and more. 

Academics

This academically rigorous program follows a five-day/week schedule. Most weekends are open to explore Costa Rica or relax at the Center. Each program combines theory learned during classroom sessions with field-based applications. 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:

  • Climate change adaptation
  • Agriculture and agroforestry
  • Ecological impacts of coffee and cacao production
  • Ecotourism and culinary tourism
  • Social justice issues surrounding sustainable food systems
  • Alternative strategies and methods of coffee and chocolate production

Courses

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
to view a description and download the syllabus.
SFS 3141
Coffee, Chocolate, and Sustainable Development
4 credits
SFS 3141

Coffee, Chocolate, and Sustainable Development

4 credits

This interdisciplinary course explores the social and ecological components that intertwine coffee and cacao to our lives and the natural and political history of Costa Rica. We consider the transformation of forested lands to coffee and cacao plantations owned by elites; intertwine with current questions of cultural representation, agro-tourism, and land use strategies, and agricultural certifications. Through field investigations, we focus on in-depth exploration of the relationships between cacao & coffee production and climate change, social justice movements, and species conservation.

View Syllabus

Core Skills

You will gain practical skills in the field such as: agricultural impacts assessment, ecosystem health survey, water quality testing, 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.


Other Costa Rica Programs

Semester

Ecological Resilience Studies

15 Weeks
18 Credits
Spring 2024
Jan 30 - May 10
In the Field
Fall 2024
Sep 6 - Dec 17
Open
Spring 2025
Jan 27 - May 9
Open

More Information

Program Costs
  • Tuition$20,500
  • Room & Board$5,000
  • Total$25,500
Summer Session 1

Biodiversity and Sustainable Food Systems

4 Weeks
4 Credits
Summer 2024
Jun 3 - Jul 2
Closed

More Information

Program Costs
  • Tuition$4,850
  • Room & Board$1,650
  • Total$6,500
Summer Session 2

Environmental Justice from the Ground Up

4 Weeks
4 Credits
Summer 2024
Jul 8 - Aug 6
Open

More Information

Program Costs
  • Tuition$4,850
  • Room & Board$1,650
  • Total$6,500

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