Center for Ecological Resilience Studies

Ecological Resilience Studies

Costa Rica
Semester
15 Weeks
18 Credits
Spring 2024
Jan 30 - May 10
In the Field
Fall 2024
Sep 4 - Dec 15
Open
Spring 2025
Jan 27 - May 9
Open
Program Costs
  • Tuition$20,500
  • Room & Board$5,000
  • Total$25,500
Application Deadlines
Spring 2024
November 1, 2023
Fall 2024
May 15, 2024
Spring 2025
November 1, 2024
Semester Program

Ecological Resilience Studies

Atenas, Central Valley,
Costa Rica

Go off the beaten path and experience resilience in action. Spend a semester in Costa Rica, home to rainforests, volcanoes, rushing waterfalls, and a laid-back culture that reflects the national motto: “Pura Vida.” Immerse yourself in the country’s many national parks, farms, and tropical ecosystems full of incredible biodiversity. Design and conduct a rigorous field research project and learn how Costa Ricans are creatively addressing conservation and development issues. 

  • Explore the cloud forests of Monteverde, home to 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity, to study tropical ecology, resilient land management, and community development efforts. 
  • Travel to the remote southwest corner of Costa Rica to visit the Osa Peninsula, a lush, geographically isolated peninsula that is home to more than half of Costa Rica’s total biodiversity.  
  • Go behind the scenes at local farms to learn how Costa Ricans have successfully combined agriculture and conservation. 
  • 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. 
  • Conduct a comprehensive field research project: Develop a research question, collect and analyze data, write a paper, and present your findings.

Academics

This academically rigorous program follows a five-day/week schedule. Most weekends are open. 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 may include:

  • Climate change and tropical ecosystems
  • Agroforestry and conservation
  • Vertebrate ecology
  • Water Conservation
  • Urban ecology
  • Sustainable ecotourism
  • Carbon sequestration

Courses

On the Ecological Resilience program, you will take three 4-credit disciplinary courses, one 2-credit language and culture course, and a 4-credit capstone Directed Research course. Courses are participatory in nature and are designed to foster inquiry and active learning. Each course combines lectures, field exercises, assignments, tests, and research. All courses are taught in English

Click on the
to view a description and download the syllabus.
SFS 2080
Language, Culture, and Society of Costa Rica
2 credits
SFS 2080

Language, Culture, and Society of Costa Rica

2 credits

This course contains two distinct but integrated modules. The Spanish language module offers listening, oral, and written practice of the Spanish language at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of proficiency. Students engage in oral and written grammar and vocabulary exercises, and develop Spanish language skills and tools required for their research projects. The sociocultural module helps students to develop a more refined understanding of Costa Rican culture and the various communities with which we work. Students participate in lectures, field exercises, and other activities that teach them strategies and skills for working with people in a community-based research context and help them to assist with community extension projects.

View Syllabus
SFS 3742
Principles of Natural Resource Management
4 credits
SFS 3742

Principles of Natural Resource Management

4 credits

This course is designed to examine the connection between society and natural resources, and how application of management tools can lead to biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods. This course introduces underlying concepts and practical tools used in addressing complex environmental problems, including protected area planning and management, guidelines for ecologically sustainable development, and environmental impact assessment. Students examine local case studies using the theory and practice learned in this course.

View Syllabus
SFS 3771
Tropical Ecology and Ecosystem Resilience
4 credits
SFS 3771

Tropical Ecology and Ecosystem Resilience

4 credits

This course examines the ecological impact of human activity, especially agriculture, in a tropical country. Students study the agro-ecology of important crops, with emphasis on biodiversity as the source of production means and materials. Students identify renewable and nonrenewable resources and examine their historical use. We study the long-term and large-scale impact of local agricultural and other practices on the national and global environment (e.g., water pollution, waste management, climate change). Students examine options for alternative resources use, land restoration, and preservation from ecological, sociopolitical, and economic viewpoints, and use basic field techniques and measurements to examine the efficacy of different options.

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SFS 3821
Justice, Resilience, and the Environment
4 credits
SFS 3821

Justice, Resilience, and the Environment

4 credits

This course addresses the intersection of the human and environmental sides of sustainable development in Costa Rica. Linking human rights to sustainability is an emerging field that combines the important dimensions of economic and social rights with the environmental underpinnings of sustainability. We use a multidisciplinary methodology to cover themes of local and global social and environmental policies, valuing of and access to ecosystem services, development aid, agrarian reform, indigenous rights and local livelihoods, and climate change. Students examine the roles of local people, government, and local and international non-governmental actors in the implementation of sustainable development models. Students also review specific local case studies to explore the empowerment of local people and their reaction to local and non-local proposals for sustainable development.

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SFS 4910
Directed Research – Costa Rica
4 credits
SFS 4910

Directed Research – Costa Rica

4 credits

This course prepares students to distinguish hidden assumptions in scientific approaches and separate fact from interpretation, cause from correlation, and advocacy from objectivity. Students learn specific tools including: experimental design; field techniques; basic descriptive statistics; and parametric and non-parametric quantitative analysis. Emphasis is placed on succinct scientific writing, graphic and tabular presentation of results, and effective delivery of oral presentations.

View Syllabus

Core Skills

You will gain practical skills in the field such as: GIS use and applications, species identification, habitat and biodiversity assessment, vertebrate ecology, tourism impact assessment methods, basic Spanish language skills, research design and implementation, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, and research presentation.

Field Sites

You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include lowland tropical rainforest, tropical cloud forest, Pacific coastal rainforest, dry forests, national parks, agroecosystems, farms, volcanoes, mangroves, and coastal ecosystems. 


Other Costa Rica Programs

Semester

Ecological Resilience Studies

15 Weeks
18 Credits
Spring 2024
Jan 30 - May 10
In the Field
Fall 2024
Sep 4 - Dec 15
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 2 - Jul 1
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 7 - Aug 5
Open

More Information

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

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