WINTER 2021 PROGRAM UPDATE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, SFS has suspended all Winter 2021 programs. Students interested in this program are welcome to apply now for Winter 2022 or consider a spring or summer program. Check out the Costa Rica Center page to see other programs offered at this location.
Spend this winter break exploring Costa Rica – from mountains and tropical rainforests to farms and agricultural communities. You’ll step behind the scenes to learn about global versus local food production and the connection between ecosystems, climate change, and agricultural practices. Meet with an Indigenous group to hear about their connection to nature and the preservation of traditional agricultural knowledge, and explore the role that gender plays in food production.
Go behind the scenes at a local coffee farm and a sustainable permaculture homestead to learn how Costa Ricans are addressing agriculture and food production with conservation.
Program Costs & Financial Aid
Meet Your Admissions Counselor
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 SFS program costs, students should plan for some additional expenses estimated
Round-trip airfare: $600
Medical costs (varies): $800
Personal spending: $300
Total Additional Expenses: $1,900
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.
Amy was raised in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. She joined the SFS team after graduating in 2010 from Boston University with a degree in environmental analysis and policy. Her life-long passion for the environment and exploration was piqued by her own personal experience with SFS while participating in the Summer 2009 Session in Kenya, where she and her fellow classmates studied the national parks near Nairobi and Lake Nakuru and their relationship with the surrounding communities. Her study abroad experience enriched her passion and interest in the environment and society’s role in its conservation, and she is excited to help students benefit in the same way.
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:
Agriculture and agroforestry
Ecological impacts of agriculture
Sustainable food systems
Indigenous agricultural knowledge and practices
Organic and mono-crop farming methods
Gender roles in agriculture
Agri- and culinary tourism
On the Foundations of Sustainable Food Systems program, you will take one 3-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.
SFS 3221 Sustainable Food Systems in Costa Rica (3 credits)
is an interdisciplinary, field-based course that evaluates the sustainability of local food production systems in Costa Rica. Visits to local farms will demonstrate how practitioners manage economic interests while conserving ecosystem services and agricultural landscapes that promote biodiversity. We will examine how food security is challenged by global influences like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic and better understand how people – individually and collectively – are adapting to ever-changing conditions.
You will gain practical skills in the field such as: terrestrial biodiversity assessments and survey techniques, species ID and population monitoring, agricultural impact assessments, environmental impact assessments, conservation strategy assessments, scientific writing and communication.
You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include coffee farms, cacao plantations, other agroecosystems and farms, and agritourism businesses.
The Center overlooks the vibrant Central Valley, where green is the predominant color as far as the eye can see. As part of an active sustainable farm, dorms and classrooms are nestled among 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 four-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
Click on the icons below to learn more about our Center in Costa Rica.