Sustainable Development Studies
August 27 - December 5
January 28 - May 8
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The Center for Sustainable Development Studies takes inspiration from Costa Rica’s successes in conservation and sustainability, fusing a world-class research center with a small Rainforest Alliance Certified™ mango and orange farm to create a stimulating learning environment where students discover what it really means to live sustainably. The Center cultivates strong relationships with local communities, NGOs, and universities, cementing our place among the ranks of stakeholders working to promote a sustainable future for Costa Rica. The Center overlooks the fertile Central Valley and sits just an hour from the capital city of San José. Tropical forests, beaches, mountains, and volcanoes are all within a day’s travel.
August 27 - December 5
January 28 - May 8
June 4 - July 4
July 9 - August 8
Princeton University, Fellow—Environmental Defense Fund, SFS Costa Rica, Summer '14
SFS definitely affirmed my passion for environmental sustainability and inspired me to pursue a career in the environmental world.
I chose the SFS Costa Rica program because it was a perfect marriage of my interests in international development, environmental sustainability, and Latin American culture. I gained tangible field research skills that helped me build my resume for the internship I would apply to the following summer. I also gained a deep passion for Latin American culture and an affirmed sense that sustainability and…Read More
Costa Rica is undergoing a period of rapid economic and social change. As this biodiversity-rich country develops and its economy shifts focus from agriculture to services, it is approaching a critical juncture where keeping pace with competitive global markets heavily influences resource management decisions. At the local scale, the livelihoods of many in rural communities depend on access to Costa Rica’s natural resources.
Research at the Center for Sustainable Development Studies focuses on Costa Rica’s response to local and global challenges, and the complex links between conservation, economic development, and ecosystem function. Students and faculty at the Center engage with local communities, small NGOs, and farmers to learn about their perspectives and needs. In turn, research projects provide essential data and contribute to the sustainable development of Costa Rica.
Häger, A. & G. Avalos. (2017). Do functional diversity and trait dominance determine carbon storage in an altered tropical landscape? Oecologia, 184(2).
Avalos, G. & E. Bermúdez. 2016. Effect of a major highway on the spatial and temporal variation in the structure and diversity of the avifauna of a tropical premontane rain forest. Revista de Biologia Tropical, 64(4): 1383-1399.
Arévalo, J. E., & Ladle, R. J. (2016). Challenges to Forest Conservation. In S. Molina & C. Rojas (Eds.), The Paradigm of Forests and the Survival of the Fittest (pp. 172-195): CRC Press.
Goldstein, G., Santiago, L. S., Campanello, P. I., Avalos, G., Zhang, Y.-J., & Villagra, M. (2016). Facing Shortage or Excessive Light: How Tropical and Subtropical Trees Adjust Their Photosynthetic Behavior and Life History Traits to a Dynamic Forest Environment. In G. Goldstein & L. S. Santiago (Eds.), Tropical Tree Physiology: Adaptations and Responses in a Changing Environment (pp. 319-336): Springer International.
Häger, A., & Schwendenmann, L. (2016). Forest Carbon Sequestration and Global Change. In S. Molina & C. Rojas (Eds.), The Paradigm of Forests and the Survival of the Fittest (pp. 39-86). Florida, USA.
It is the out-of-classroom experiences that make SFS unique.
Experiencing the environmental problems we learn about in the context of the world around us makes them feel pertinent and tangible, while allowing us to feel like we have the power to be part of the solution.Carrie Gotwals
Since the Center’s inception in 1993, community service and engagement in the surrounding communities has been a cornerstone of the student experience. We work with local organizations on forest restoration and reforestation, as well as conservation efforts with local NGOs and national parks.
At the Center, students designed and continue to maintain a local recycling program, and family visits in Atenas are often reciprocated through SFS-hosted community dinners. Students teach environmental education and English classes at local schools, present their research to government officials and other stakeholders, and get to know members of the community by engaging in soccer games, festivals, and cultural performances.
The SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies maintains a 6-hectare Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farm that produces mangoes and oranges. Practicing sustainability is part of the student learning and living experience. The Center overlooks the lush Central Valley, providing access to tropical forests, beaches, mountains, and volcanoes within a day’s travel.
May 7, 2018