summer session I

Costa Rica

Biodiversity and Sustainable Food Systems


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.


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 course to view a description and download the syllabus

SFS 3141 Coffee, Chocolate, and Sustainable Development 4 credits

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.

A summer with SFS!

Take back-to-back summer sessions and get the hands-on learning and skill-building experiences of an internship, while going off the beaten path and exploring the world. Each summer session focuses on a different topic, and you’ll have time to travel independently between sessions.

Environmental Justice from the Ground Up (Costa Rica Summer II)

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All program components are subject to change.

Where You'll Be Living

The Center is an active small 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.

  • Dorm living with 4-person bunkrooms
  • Classroom, library, computer lab, and laundry room
  • Open-air porch with hammocks and chairs
  • Dining hall with scenic valley views, and on-site cooking staff
  • Swimming pool, soccer field, basketball court, and pizza oven
  • Outdoor classroom and hiking trails