Sep 1 - Dec 12
Jan 30 - May 10
One semester of college-level ecology, biology, or environmental studies/science
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.
Spring – November 1
Fall – May 15
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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 the SFS program costs listed to the left, students should plan for additional expenses such as airfare, a passport, visas, medical costs, and personal spending.
Check out the Financial Planner below for an estimated breakdown of these costs along with more information about financially planning for your program abroad with SFS.
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.
Learn More about Financial Aid
This academically rigorous program follows a five-day/week schedule. Most weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) are open. The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to help students actively discover and understand the complexities of environmental, social, and economic issues in Costa Rica. Read more about the SFS program model.
Major academic themes may include:
On the Ecological Resilience Studies 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 each course to view a description and download the syllabus
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 including a homestay—all of which teach them strategies and skills for working with people in a community-based research context and help them to assist with community extension projects.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include lowland tropical rainforest, tropical cloud forest, Pacific coastal rainforest, dry forests, agroecosystems, farms, volcanoes, mangroves, coastal ecosystems, and the highlands of northern Panama.
In the Directed Research course, each student completes a field research project under the mentorship of a faculty member – beginning with data collection and analysis and concluding with a research paper and presentation. Project subject areas span ecology, natural resource management, conservation science, environmental ethics, and socioeconomics.Find Out More
The Center is an active active farm overlooking the vibrant Central Valley, where green is the predominant color as far as the eye can see. Dorms and classrooms intermingle with 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.