winter session


Foundations of Tropical Coastal Ecology


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 Panama.

Major academic themes include:

  • Rainforest and marine ecology
  • Marine protected areas
  • Climate change impacts
  • Tourism impacts


On the Foundations of Tropical Coastal Ecology 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.

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SFS 2781 Principles of Tropical Coastal Ecology 3 credits

Core Skills

You will gain practical skills in the field such as: marine biodiversity assessments and survey techniques, species ID and population monitoring, animal behavior observation, tourism impact assessments, coral health assessments, snorkel skills.

Field Sites

You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include coral reefs, coastal forests and beaches, mangrove forests and seagrass meadows, marine protected areas, and the vibrant small-town community of Bocas.

Life in the Field

The Center, once a beachfront hotel, is nestled among the slender palms of Isla Colón. You’ll take your classes over the warm waters of the Caribbean and amid the surrounding rainforests and reefs. The laid-back tourist hub of Bocas Town is a short taxi ride away, with access to shops, restaurants, and a vibrant culture that is as unique as the mix of people who live here.

  • Dorm living in four-person bunkrooms
  • Classroom on a sheltered dock above the ocean
  • Air-conditioned student lounge and lab
  • Casual al-fresco dining area, and on-site cooking staff
  • Swimming pool, kayaking, and paddleboarding
  • Volleyball, spikeball, and beachfront hammocks