- North/Central America /
- Costa Rica /
- Atenas /
- The School for Field Studies / SFS: Costa Rica - Sustainable Development Studies
The School for Field Studies / SFS: Costa Rica - Sustainable Development Studies
The rugged rainforests and sandy beaches of Costa Rica are brimming with life – from sloths and frogs to brightly colored toucans and hummingbirds. Costa Rica hosts an astounding 5 percent of Earth’s species despite covering only 0.03 percent o... read more
Costa Rica is beautiful, and I learned some neat stuff. Throughout the semester, I was extremely frustrated that I wasn't trusted to take care of my self. I feel like I missed out on a lot because I wasn't able to do anything on my own. A S - Kenyon College View Entire Review
I gained a new way to look at things by being surrounded by people coming from different universities and countries, and I also gained skills I'll take to the field one day. This experience was extremely worthwhile. A student - Wellesley College View Entire Review
I gained research skills and became a better global citizen and more aware of my environmental impact. A student - Wellesley College View Entire Review
Yes, I learned all about ecosystems and cultures which I had never been exposed to before and saw sustainable living in practice. A student - Brandeis University View Entire Review
On a personal level, I learned how to be independent and okay with not knowing anyone/living in a new setting. Aside from learning a lot in my classes, I also learned (from living at the center) about sustainable living and efforts we can make to truly make a difference. Laura Broffman - Brandeis University View Entire Review
I learned a lot about sustainable development and Costa Rica during my time there but it was also a great experience where I met a lot of great people and had a lot of great experiences that I will never forget. A student - Middlebury College View Entire Review
The program taught me that it IS possible to live and farm sustainably and to consider the environmental impact of so many aspects of your life, from visiting national parks to waste management and pest control. The new perspectives gained made the experience absolutely worthwhile. A student - Hollins University View Entire Review
Definitely worthwhile. Seamus M - Bucknell University View Entire Review
Being a part of SFS was a moving experience. It inspired me and made me stronger in many ways. If you love environmental studies and want to truly practice what you preach, you will enjoy this program. This program is all about hands on learning, and not so much having an intense textbook memorization session for 4 weeks. You... A student - Yale University View Entire Review
I learned that I can throw myself into an entirely new situation without knowing a single person, and I will succeed. It was definitely worthwhile. Crystal P - University of Saint Thomas View Entire Review
I learned about the history of Costa Rica's sustainable development and improvements that they and other countries could make in order to further protect the environment while developing their economy. I had an absolutely amazing time traveling all over the country. The best part about this program was being able to go on short ... U4d66b19a186a9 - Wellesley College View Entire Review
I remain more committed than ever to helping to make resource infrastructure sustainable in developing countries. I acquired useful skills in accomplishing that task, and I am psychologically ready now to accept that lifestyle. A student - Trinity University View Entire Review
Absolutely. Bill I - Paul Smith's College View Entire Review
I learned about another culture and the biodiversity in other parts of the world. Due to being there, I was able to see hands on new kinds of plants and environmental interactions instead than read about them. I also got to know how Costa Rica has become a leader in environmentalism and how we may be able to bring that back to t... Ben K Lefkowitz - Muhlenberg College View Entire Review
Definitely worthwhile. I learned a lot about myself. A student - Wellesley College View Entire Review
It was worthwhile. I gained an understanding of ES issues (ecology, sustainability, environmental ethics, biology). I also gained by meeting new people and living in a new place. A student - Middlebury College View Entire Review
Friends, scientific analysis skills, scientific writing skills Dan Klein - Brandeis University View Entire Review
I learned more about water scarcity, climate change, and sustainable tourism practices. Yes Ian Mauricette - University of Maine - Orono View Entire Review
I learned how to mesh my humanities/social science-based Environmental Studies knowledge with a more scientific-based experience. It was certainly worthwhile to be surrounded by others doing their own versions of this and learning from each other all the time. Maggie N - Lafayette College View Entire Review
My program was very much influenced by the type of people on the trip and our supervisors. Our semester also had more issues than a normal semester there would, which was not the staff's fault. However, the way certain issues and problems were handled made living at the Center uncomfortable and stressful for a large part of the ... A student - Brandeis University View Entire Review
It was worthwhile for me to go. I learned a lot about a new culture and was able to experience a different type of school. A student - Clark University - Worcester View Entire Review
I learned a lot about myself and my comfort zone as well as how to effectively live in a group setting. And I gained confidence in my language skills not only in Spanish communication as well as English. Taylor E - Brandeis University View Entire Review
I gained so much from this experience. From the classes I learned about the many aspects of sustainable development. We looked at the issues form multiple perspectives and used Costa Rica as a case study. I learned how to conduct an extended research project during the 1 month directed research component of the program. We orga... A student - Middlebury College View Entire Review
Absolutely. I met and made friends for life. It's been a whole year since we first saw each other and I miss them terribly. I miss the whole experience and would go back to Costa Rica in a heartbeat. jonathan c - Trinity College View Entire Review
Although I would choose a different program with a different focus I'd do so more because of personal reasons, not because the program was bad. My SFS experience was overall fantastic, much learned, many life lessons and friends. Daniel H - Colby College View Entire Review
The rugged rainforests and sandy beaches of Costa Rica are brimming
with life – from sloths and frogs to brightly colored toucans and hummingbirds.
Costa Rica hosts an astounding 5 percent of Earth’s species despite covering
only 0.03 percent of its area. Shaded coffee farms integrated into the rainforest
constitute just one example of the sustainable conservation strategies for
which the country is known.
These efforts to preserve the wild beauty of
Costa Rica are recognized worldwide, but climate change and increased urban
development bring new and unforeseen challenges. Conservation leaders, farmers,
land managers, and policymakers must work together using regenerative
strategies to build ecological resilience and minimize climate change impacts.
Our research in Costa Rica contributes vital data to innovative efforts that
balance conservation and development.
Sustainable Development Studies (SEMESTER PROGRAM): Experience a semester
of sustainability in Costa Rica, home to rainforests, volcanoes, rushing
waterfalls, and a laid-back culture that reflects the national motto: “Pura
Vida.” Immerse yourself in the country’s many national parks, farms, and
tropical ecosystems full of incredible biodiversity. Design and conduct a
rigorous field research project and learn how Costa Ricans are creatively
addressing conservation and development issues.
Biodiversity and Sustainable Food Systems (SUMMER I PROGRAM): Using
coffee and chocolate as case studies, explore the relationships between food
systems, ecology, conservation, and sustainability. Learn how different
agricultural techniques have the potential to restore biodiversity and combat
climate change. Study the sociocultural history of coffee and cacao, from Indigenous
histories to modern production and exports.
Fundamentals of Sustainability Research (SUMMER II PROGRAM): Spend
your summer investigating issues of biodiversity conservation and
sustainability in Costa Rica’s vast network of national parks and protected
areas – the perfect natural laboratory. Hone your research skills in the field
as you design and conduct a research project, collecting data and presenting
your results to your peers and key community stakeholders.
Studies. The Center is an active organic farm
overlooking the vibrant Central Valley, where green is the predominant color as
far as the eye can see. Dorms and classrooms intermingle with orchards and
gardens, while Center dog Hera keeps watch over it all. The friendly town of
Atenas is a 10-minute cab ride away, offering restaurants, shops, parks, and
Program Type(s):Study Abroad
- January Term
Relevant Study Subject(s):
- Environmental Science
- Ecology, Evolution Biology
- Environmental Studies
- Latin American Studies
- Agriculture General
- International Relations
- Natural Resources and Conservation
- Natural Resources, Conservation
- Natural Resources Management
- Natural Sciences
- Biological and Physical Sciences
- Botany, Plant Biology
- Global Studies
- Sustainability Studies
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The School for Field Studies / SFS Scholarships
All students are eligible to apply for these need-based awards. SFS will work with you and your home school to understand and meet your financial need.
This need-based scholarship is available for students with a cultural and/or ancestral connection to the country in which they plan to study abroad with SFS.
SFS matches Federal Pell Grant funding for all SFS semester programs to students who use their Pell Grant to help pay the cost of their SFS program.
SFS seeks to broaden and strengthen the participation of traditionally underrepresented minority students in all of its programs. The SFS Diversity Scholarship is one of the ways we broaden the participation of underrepresented groups of students in study abroad. For SFS, underrepresented groups include, but are not limited to, students who identify with a certain race, sex, color, religion, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, age, marital status, national origin or ancestry, ethnic origin, or veteran status. Underrepresented groups also include first generation college students and students from low income families.