summer session II

Costa Rica

Fundamentals of Sustainability Research


This academically rigorous program follows a six-day/week schedule. 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 and tropical ecosystems
  • Agroforestry and permaculture
  • Sustainable ecotourism
  • Hummingbird ecology and behavior
  • Urban ecology
  • Carbon sequestration
  • National park management


On the Fundamentals of Sustainability Research 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 each course to view a description and download the syllabus

SFS 4930 Applied Research Techniques and Strategies Toward Sustainability 4 credits

Core Skills

You will gain practical skills in the field such as: GIS use and applications, habitat and biodiversity assessment, forest soundscape techniques, songbird mist-netting, transects and vegetation surveys, basic Spanish language skills, tourism impact assessment methods, research design and implementation, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, scientific writing, and research presentation.

Field Sites

You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include low-land tropical rainforest, tropical cloud forests in Monteverde, the rainforest on the Pacific coast, dry forests in Santa Rosa National Park and along the Guanacaste province, communities surrounding national parks, agroecosystems, fishing villages, farms, mangroves and coastal ecosystems.

A summer with SFS!

Take back-to-back summer sessions and get the hands-on learning and skill-building experiences of an internship, while also 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. Receive a $1,000 discount on your second session (effective for Summer 2020).

Biodiversity and Sustainable Food Systems (Costa Rica Session I)

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All program components are subject to change.

Life in the Field

The Center is an active organic 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, outdoor classroom and pizza oven
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farm