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Sustainability + the Environment

August 23, 2015 - December 1, 2015



Program Overview

“Newsweek” declared Monteverde one of the world’s top places to remember before it disappears. Get to know why the city’s beautiful and rare cloud forest habitat is so important to the country and the planet on CIEE’s Sustainability and the Environment program. At our Study Center in the heart of the cloud forest, you’ll dig into wildlife conservation, environmental education, alternative agriculture, ecotourism, reforestation, sustainable building, environmental art, or green energy – and maybe help the world in the process.

Study abroad in Monteverde and you’ll:

  • Participate in specially designed CIEE courses on sustainability and tropical conservation
  • Travel to remote and unique locations in Costa Rica and Nicaragua
  • Intern with local organizations, businesses, or farms dedicated to sustainable development
  • Live with a Costa Rican family and immerse yourself in the culture and language
  • Explore the sustainability of alternative energy, food systems, agriculture, nature reserves, and tourism in Costa Rica
  • Take excursions to protected areas of endangered biological and cultural diversity to learn about their threats and what can do to save them

Scholarships & Grants

We want as many students as possible to benefit from studying abroad. That’s why CIEE awards more than $3 million every year – more than any other international educational organization – to make study abroad affordable.

Applicants to this program are eligible for the following scholarships and grants:

To be considered, simply check the “Scholarships and Grants” box on your program application.


The CIEE Difference

study abroad in Costa Rica


Ground your fieldwork in conservation and sustainability theory and principle. Explore Costa Rican history; the relationships between environment, economy, and society; and conservation biology policy.


CIEE makes sure you get plenty of hands-on work experience. You might design and construct an artificial wetland to treat “gray water” with the Monteverde Conservation League and the Children’s Eternal Rain Forest. The Costa Rican Conservation Foundation might have you use GPS and GIS to map bird species’ habitats. At the Centro de Educación Creativa, you might teach environmental art. Work with private businesses, NGOs, and educational institutions in fields including environmental education or protection, native species horticulture, sustainable agriculture, alternative energy, sustainable building materials, or institutional development.


Each day, you’ll have a chance to explore Monteverde. You’ll also spend four full weeks traveling around Costa Rica and Nicaragua exploring protected areas of endangered biological and cultural diversity, visiting organic coffee, cacao, and pineapple plantations, and more. One of the favorite trips each year: searching for kinkajous and olingos at night in the cloud forest. This is one experience you won’t want to miss.

During excursions you’ll meet indigenous groups and business people, tour rural communities and conservation and development projects. You’ll also visit important cultural sites, participate in local holidays, learn to cook Costa Rican food, and attend community functions. Excursion destinations include remote and unique communities, where you’ll encounter various dialects or languages and learn about local food, legend, beliefs, and customs.


Use your research skills to provide information that might shape policy and practices in sustainability and environmental protection. You could research how to grow hydroponic lettuce without agrochemicals, optimize placement of artificial wildlife passages, compare the growth of trees in reforestation plots grown with different maintenance programs, or something else related to your interests.


Dates, Deadlines & Fees

We want to make sure you get the most out of your experience when you study abroad with CIEE, which is why we offer the most inclusions in our fees.

The program fee includes:

  • Tuition and housing
  • Pre-departure advising and optional on-site airport meet and greet
  • Full-time program leadership and support
  • Field trips and cultural activities
  • CIEE iNext travel card which provides insurance and other travel benefits
Please note, program dates are subject to change. Please contact your CIEE Study Abroad Advisor before purchasing airfare.

Program: Fall 2015 (14 wks)
Start Date: 08/23/2015
End date: 12/01/2015
Cost: $18,850


  • Overall GPA 2.75
  • 3 semesters of college-level environmental studies
  • Some college-level Spanish language recommended

Recommended Credit

Total recommended credit for the semester is 17 semester/25.5 quarter hours.

Contact hours for the Spanish language course are 60 hours and recommended credit is 4 semester/6 quarter hours per course. Contact hours for the science-based courses exceed 60 and recommended credit is 4 semester/6 quarter hours, unless otherwise noted.

Program Requirements

CIEE participants are required to take all five courses. The study abroad program is designed to provide a full semester of electives for environmental studies/science majors. Because requirements vary between schools, contact your study abroad office for course equivalents and credits awarded toward your degree.

About The City

Welcome to the rain forest. Literally up in the clouds of the Costa Rican continental divide, Monteverde is a tropical mountain home to tens of thousands of species. Big cats like pumas live here, as do monkeys, 420 species of orchids, and the endangered three-wattled bellbird.

Monteverde is a small, international community, nestled along the edge of the cloud forest in the Tilarán mountain range of northwest Costa Rica. It is perhaps best known for the famed Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, which offers some 200,000-plus yearly visitors a portal to a lush haven for biodiversity.

Drawn to the area’s spectacular beauty and opportunities to see quetzals and monkeys, tourists now contribute the principal revenues, although coffee plantations and dairy farms still dot the landscape. The region, comprising of numerous small towns (Monteverde, Cerro Plano, Santa Elena) is home to about 5,000 people of diverse backgrounds. These include Costa Ricans, who can trace their local roots back for several generations, North American Quakers, who colonized the upper elevations alongside Costa Rican pioneers some 60 years ago, and many international artists and biologists. Although highly diverse, the local community leans toward values favoring family, environmentalism, and pacifism. However, recent opportunities for economic development at the expense of nature, quality of life, and peacefulness have ignited debates about whether and how sustainable development is possible. This dynamic makes the perfect venue for students of sustainability and environmental conservation.

Meet The Staff

Staff Image

Karen Masters
Resident Director

Dr. Karen Masters has a B.S. from the University of Michigan, an M.S. from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University. She has lived in Monteverde for over 20 years and has been teaching at the CIEE Study Center in Monteverde since 1997. She currently studies the effects of climate change on epiphytic orchids in Monteverde and has published papers on a host of conservation-related research.


Paolo Munoz
Program Assistant

Paola, Program Assistant, is from the north of Costa Rica (San Carlos). Paola has a BSc in Biology with a focus on Botany from the University of Costa Rica. In her role as assistant, Paola helps coordinate logistics and academic activities. She will be your big sister in everything you need.



 Priscilla Palavicini
Logistics Coordinator

Priscilla Palavicini is from Costa Rica’s Central Valley, around the capital of San Jose. Priscilla has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Costa Rica and is currently a master’s student in Environmental Management at the UNESCO Costa Rican University for International Cooperation.

Adam Stein

Adam Stein, Ph.D., is a tropical conservation biologist whose research interests focus on bird behavior and ecology in avian communities found in rain forests of Costa Rica and Panama. In his role as instructor, Adam teaches Tropical Conservation Biology and Policy, and advises independent research.


August 23, 2015
December 1, 2015
Event Category:


Unnamed Venue
Monteverde, Costa Rica


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