The Costa Rica Ecology Program is an interdisciplinary tropical field course involving the study of tropical environments, their natural history, and their people. Located between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America, Costa Rica is a small country known for its pioneering role in tropical conservation, its peaceful, democratic traditions, and its commitment to education, health, and diplomacy.
The course consists of lectures in the classroom and the field; seminars; field activities; group discussions; field observations and research; readings; meetings and conversations with Costa Ricans; visits to museums; nature reserves and farms; attendance at public gatherings such as fiestas and sporting events; homestay with a Costa Rican family; Spanish workshops; community service; and a wide range of independent and small group activities. On most days, the program involves structured or independent activities during the morning, afternoon, and evening. Time is dedicated to individual as well as group activities. Although the program and schedule is intensive, students have an opportunity to rest, reflect, and work at their own pace.
While traveling (and for a few days afterward), all students are expected to keep a daily course journal and participate fully in all assigned work: field and lab activities, lectures, hikes, quizzes, and other tasks. In addition, all students are expected to conduct, present, and write-up research projects that will be carried out in the field. Research topics are selected by both the faculty and students; each student participates in a minimum of one group or individual project per field site. Students participating in this program benefit in several intangible ways apart from exposure to the formal material presented. Included are (1) the potential for future research program development, and (2) the growth in sophistication and understanding which always accompanies international travel.
Applications are available from the Undergraduate Program office.