SFS COSTA RICA: BIODIVERSITY AND SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMS (SUMMER I)
- Term: Summer Session I
- Credits: 4 semester-hour credits (8 credits if taken with Session II)
- Prerequisites: No course prerequisites: 18 years of age
- Application Deadline: Rolling admissions. Early applications encouraged
- Financial Aid: All accepted students can apply for need-based scholarships, grants, and loans
Spend a summer in Costa Rica and examine the relationships between food systems, ecology, conservation, and sustainability. Two of the country’s most popular crops – coffee and chocolate – serve as case studies for these issues as you learn how different agricultural techniques have the potential to restore biodiversity and combat climate change. Trace the sociocultural histories of coffee and cacao, from Indigenous histories to modern production and exports, and see how people around the world can follow Costa Rica’s example of sustainability.
- Visit La Iguana Chocolate Farm, where you’ll harvest cacao by hand and learn about permaculture, sustainable living, and local methods of chocolate processing.
SFS students live and study at the Center for Sustainable Development Studies. 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.
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.
CONNECT WITH SFS
Visit the SFS website
Call the Admissions Hotline at 800.989.4418
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The School for Field Studies (SFS) Sustaining Tropical Ecosystems summer program offers two four-credit courses that may be taken individually or back-to-back to provide a thorough introduction to the sustainability of tropical ecosystems, as well as field research techniques for addressing conservation questions.In Session I: Sustaining Tropical Ecosystems: Biodiversity, Conservation, and Development, students will explore and address key aspects of sustainable development strategies in Costa Rica and the most pressing challenges at the intersection between conservation and economic development.
Costa Rica is known worldwide for its conservation efforts, which have attracted millions of tourists to the country and especially to its natural protected areas and sustainable coffee farms. Accelerated economic growth and urban development are taking place in the absence of coordinated land-use planning, consideration of water and energy sustainability, and waste management systems. These oversights, in combination with climate change impacts, constantly challenge the sustainable development goals of the country and threaten its biodiversity.
Students explore and address key features of sustainable development strategies in Costa Rica and the most pressing challenges at the intersection between conservation and economic development. Understanding historical and current aspects of sustainable development strategies in Costa Rica, coupled with knowledge of tropical ecosystem function and connectivity, allows students to understand the impacts of development on the environment and on society. Field exercises and lectures introduce students to models of economic development and biodiversity conservation in and around Costa Rica’s protected areas. A short field research project provides a practical introduction to research design and methods for achieving conservation goals.
FIELD RESEARCH, LECTURES, AND EXERCISES
Field exercises, research projects, and lectures introduce students to models of conservation, biodiversity protection, and development of Costa Rica's national parks, within the context of the Costa Rican cultural application of conservation ecology.
BENEFITS OF TAKING BOTH COURSES
- Explore the biological diversity of the rainforests of Braulio Carrillo National Park in the Volcanic Cordillera Conservation Area
- Compare and contrast biodiversity protection in examples of conventional and organic agriculture in the Caribbean lowlands
- Evaluate tourism services and park management practices in Poa´s Volcano National Park
- Analyze the challenges of the ecotourism project of El Sur community near Carara National Park; hike through the rainforest; and interact with local schoolchildren through outreach projects
This summer course can be taken individually or in combination with Applied Research Techniques and Strategies Toward Sustainability in Costa Rica in Session II.
- Students participating in both sessions are eligible for a $675 discount.
- Students earn 8 credits
- Home school financial aid may be applied toward the program. Earning 8 credits likely will allow students to qualify for federal financial aid, depending on their particular situation
- There is a five-day break between components for independent travel
- There are no prerequisites
Our program in Costa Rica is oriented toward helping the community conserve its natural resources and develop sustainably. And close connections with the local community help establish SFS as a trusted and respected resource. SFS students enjoy a warm welcome into the community of Atenas, with opportunities to interview residents during academic projects, practice Spanish, learn about Costa Rican culture, and participate in community service projects. Students also enjoy joining local sporting events and spending time socializing at local cafes.
The Center, located an hour from the capital city of San José, comprises a campus facility integrated with a small Rainforest Alliance Certified™ mango and orange farm overlooking the fertile Central Valley. Practicing sustainability is part of the student learning and living experience. The Center’s facilities include a dormitory and cafeteria, indoor and outdoor classrooms, an organic garden and greenhouse, a soccer field, a basketball court, a swimming pool, and a forested area with trails. The campus is part of the small neighborhood of La Presa/Los Angeles, and the friendly town of Atenas is only three miles from campus. Costa Rica’s tropical forests, beaches, mountains, and volcanoes are within a day’s travel.