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.
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 $500 discount.
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.
BENEFITS OF TAKING BOTH COURSES
- Students participating in both sessions are eligible for a $500 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
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.
- 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 Poás 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
COMMUNITY FOCUSOur 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.
Students who study at The SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies' field station in Atenas will live on a hillside with spectacular views overlooking the Rio Grande River in the fertile Central Valley. The field station includes a large house, an outdoor classroom, a moderately sized organic garden, a patio and pool, as well as banana, mango, and orange groves, a chicken coop, and untouched forest areas with trails.
Students live in a dormitory (up to four to a room) with bathrooms. There is a classroom, small laboratory, and a computer room with internet access. The field station is part of the small neighborhood of La Presa/Los Angeles. The friendly town of Atenas is a short walk from the field station, while Costa Rica's tropical forests, beaches, mountains, and volcanoes are within a day's travel.