The School for Field Studies (SFS) Sustaining Tropical Ecosystems: Biodiversity, Conservation, and Development 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, its parks, and reserves. However, the ongoing transition from an agriculture-based to a service economy, climate change, and accelerated infrastructural development threaten Costa Rica's biodiversity and society. As rural areas give way to urban developments, already scarce resources, including fresh water and energy sources, are stretched to their limit. A reorganization of resource use and waste management practices is urgently needed to maintain healthy and functioning ecosystems in Costa Rica.
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.
STUDENT RESEARCHStudent research will focus on examining the impacts of development on the environment and on society by understanding key historical and current aspects of sustainable development strategies in Costa Rica, coupled with knowledge of tropical ecosystem function and connectivity. Field exercises and lectures introduce students to models of economic development and biodiversity conservation in and around Costa Rica's protected areas and provide a practical introduction to research design and methods for achieving conservation goals in Costa Rica.
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.
- Volcan Poas National Park
- Palo Verde National Park
- Carara National Park
- Tapanti National Park
- Forest dynamics
- Plant and animal interactions
- Tourism management and sustainability
- Socio-cultural aspects of sustainable development
- Socioeconomics of conservation in Costa Rica
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.