Mountains to Coast: Field Studies in Costa Rica


  • Dates: Summer 2019
  • Course Credit: NRE 320 (3 hours) + EAP 599 (1 hour)
  • Program Director: Prof. Robert Paratley,
  • This program is open to undergraduate students from all academic disciplines, however if space is limited, preference will be given to students in the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences major. 

This program studies Costa Rica’s high biological diversity as well as important natural resource management issues.  Costa Rica is a world leader in conservation, having established a network of national parks and bio-reserves in response to past deforestation.  In-depth visits to a number of such reserves will allow students to explore many facets of tropical biology-- learning species, documenting diversity, exploring ecological interactions and understanding the basic principles of conservation biology.  Participants will travel through a diverse mix of land uses, relating these to the country’s varied soils and climate.  Other topics include sustainable agriculture, ecotourism, climate change, and energy policy.  Emphasis throughout the program will be on experiential learning in the field, group discussion, lectures from local experts, and journal-writing. This course is offered by the interdisciplinary Natural Resource and Environmental Science major in the College of Agriculture, Food & Environment.  


  • Visit four national parks and three bio-reserves to experience a variety of ecosystems, including coastal wetlands, lowland tropical rainforests, cloud forests, dry tropical forests, and active volcanoes.
  • Visit a coffee cooperative to explore sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Tour a banana plantation to understand large-scale export commodity agriculture.
  • Explore a geothermal energy plant to see an increasingly important component of Costa Rica's renewable power generation.

Click here for more information and to apply. 

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