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Applied Research Techniques & Strategies Toward Sustainability

July 13, 2015 - August 11, 2015


Session 2


The School for Field Studies (SFS) Costa Rica 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 II: Applied Research Techniques and Strategies Toward Sustainability in Costa Rica, students learn about the ecological, resource management, and socioeconomic factors impacting protected areas and surrounding regions in Costa Rica, and apply the scientific process in a field research project that addresses a local environmental issue.


The firsthand experience of living and learning in a rapidly developing country showed me the difficulty of solving environmental issues brought on by economic growth, but also gave me better insight into how to address the problem.

—Mindy Zhao, University of California, Los Angeles, Summer ‘11


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 learn about the ecological, natural resource management, and socioeconomic factors impacting protected areas and surrounding communities and farms in Costa Rica. In this research- intensive program, the focus is on developing relevant research questions that address local issues related to sustainability. Students are involved in designing and conducting field research on a topic of immediate relevance to local clients and proposing alternative approaches toward sustainable development in an effort to help address challenges to conservation goals.



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 Poco Sol Biological Station within the Children’s Eternal Rainforest to quantify forest dynamics
  • Hike the oak forest and páramo ecosystems of the highlands of Cerro de la Muerte
  • Visit Arenal Volcano National Park and evaluate the consequences of increased tourism at La Fortuna in an effort to inform park managers about opportunities to foster better relationships with surrounding communities


This summer course can be taken individually or in combination with Sustaining Tropical Ecosystems: Biodiversity, Conservation, & Development in Costa Rica in Session I.

  • Students participating in both sessions are eligible for a $1,000 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.

Location Atenas
Language English
Dates 2015: July 13 – August 11
Deadline Rolling admissions. Early submissions are encouraged.
Cost $5,600 ($1,000 discount for enrolling in both sessions; Includes all tuition, room, board, local travel. Excludes airfare)
Financial Aid Click here for more information about need-based scholarships, loans, and travel grants.
Prerequisites College Undergraduates: No academic prerequisites
Credits 4 credits (8 credits if taken with Session I)


July 13, 2015
August 11, 2015
Event Category:


The School for Field Studies
Atenas, Costa Rica
View Venue Website


Ellen Reid

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