The School for Field Studies / SFS: Panama - Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies

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Covered in lush rainforests, hundreds of mangrove islands, and coral reefs teeming with diverse marine life, the Bocas del Toro Archipelago serves as a living laboratory for studying tropical biodiversity. This chain of islands is populated by eve... read more

All Reviews

OVERALL RATING 4.7
Based on 5 Reviews
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Overall Experience
October 14, 2022 Life Changing.
I will never be the same person because of this life changing trip. It taught be so much about perseverance, stepping outside of your comfort zone, confiding in yourself, and the importance of friendship. - University of Maryland - College Park View Entire Review
January 10, 2022 An Amazing Experience!
I learned so much about myself and what I want to do in life, and so much about the local culture I was living in. It was absolutely worthwhile. - Brandeis University View Entire Review
Extremely worthwhile. Although I do not want to study hard science in college, I found the experience working on a microbiology research project for nearly a month to be super valuable. It is very rare for undergrads to participate in such worthwhile research projects. While the project I was on did not end up getting published,... - Middlebury College View Entire Review
Past Review Incredible
Life changing experiences - Brandeis University View Entire Review
A student studying abroad with The School for Field Studies / SFS: Panama - Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies
I learned great research skills and how to collaborate/share space with people better, I became dive certified, I traveled to Costa Rica for spring break and explored national parks, I saw my first wild shark, I became more passionate about the environment, and overall I just had a wonderful experience. It was incredibly worthwh... - Clark University - Worcester View Entire Review
A student studying abroad with SFS: Panama - Tropical Island Biodiversity and Conservation Studies
EVERYONE SHOULD STUDY ABROAD! It doesn't matter where you go, just go somewhere! This study abroad experience really helped me open my eyes to how different the world is from the U.S. I want to travel everywhere. - Elizabethtown College View Entire Review
This program was a tremendous learning experience for me in ways I could not have predicted. I am not an environmental studies or marine biology major, like many people on the program are, but I did not realize that last summer when I signed up. I thought I was on a linear track to becoming a biology major, but the interactions ... - Dickinson College View Entire Review
One of the best parts of the program was the directed research component. From writing a grant proposal to planning a budget to interviewing people to performing transects on coral reefs while snorkeling I really learned a lot about how to conduct research. - Brandeis University View Entire Review
I gained a group of friends who care about the same things as me and have experienced living in the amazing town of Bocas. - University of Wisconsin - Madison View Entire Review
- University of North Texas View Entire Review
It was absolutely worth while. I learned a ton about science and the local environmental problems experienced in Panama. - Clark University - Worcester View Entire Review

About

Covered in lush rainforests, hundreds of mangrove islands, and coral reefs teeming with diverse marine life, the Bocas del Toro Archipelago serves as a living laboratory for studying tropical biodiversity. This chain of islands is populated by everything from hummingbirds and howler monkeys to stingrays, dolphins, sloths, and brightly colored poison dart frogs. At first glance, Bocas is nothing short of paradise.

However, climate change and increased tourism on the islands have led to ecosystem and natural resource degradation while also threatening Indigenous islanders’ traditional livelihoods. Our research on the environmental impacts of tourism and development on the natural ecosystems in Bocas provides the community with data necessary to support more sustainable policies and protect the beautiful islands we call home.




  • Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies (SEMESTER PROGRAM): Spend a semester in the dynamic community of Bocas del Toro, where you will experience everything from underwater ecosystems to rich green rainforests. Go behind the scenes of this “paradise” as you study the impacts of tourism and development on the unique habitats of this island system. Evaluate local and national environmental policies and study the principles of sustainability and conservation as part of an in-depth field research project.


  • Tropical Island Ecosystems: The Human Impact (SUMMER I PROGRAM): Snorkel and hike through the diverse environments of Bocas – from coral reefs and mangroves to beaches and rainforests – and study human impacts, such as tourism, on the island’s ecosystems and communities. Meet the local residents who depend on both tourism and natural resources and learn about current approaches to sustainable development in the archipelago.



SFS students live and study at the Center for Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies, once a hotel that sits among the slender palms and warm sands of Isla Colón lies the Center. You’ll take your classes over the waves of the Caribbean and among the surrounding rainforests and reefs. The laidback tourist hub of Bocas Town is a short taxi ride away, with access to shops, restaurants, and a vibrant culture that is as unique as the mix of people who live here.


Program Type(s):
Study Abroad
Research
Program Length(s):
  • Fall
  • Summer
  • Spring
Instruction Language(s):
  • English
Relevant Study Subject(s):
  • Natural Resources, Conservation
  • Natural Resources and Conservation
  • Environmental Studies
  • Environmental Science
  • Natural Resources Management
  • Latin American Studies
  • Ecology, Evolution Biology
  • Biological and Physical Sciences
  • Natural Sciences
  • Global Studies
  • Sustainability Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Sociology
Minimum GPA:
2.5
Website
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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.

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Deadlines:
The complete aid application is due at least 60 days before the program begins for semester applicants, and at least 30 days before the program begins for summer applicants.

Guidelines/Requirements:
All students are eligible to apply for these need-based awards.

These grants will be awarded on the basis of need and may supplement other awards of SFS need-based scholarships, travel grants, and zero- or low-interest loans.

N/A

Deadlines:
Spring: November 1st Summer 1 or Summer 1+2: April 1st Summer 2: May 1st Fall: June 1st

Guidelines/Requirements:
The SFS Trailblazer Grant is available to students who are the first from their home institution to attend an SFS program.

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.

N/A

Deadlines:
Spring: November 1st Summer 1 or Summer 1+2: April 1st Summer 2: May 1st Fall: June 1st

Guidelines/Requirements:
Students must complete the SFS Financial Aid Application in order to receive this award.

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.

N/A

Deadlines:
Spring: November 1st Summer 1 or Summer 1+2: April 1st Summer 2: May 1st Fall: June 1st

Guidelines/Requirements:
In order to be considered for the need-based Heritage Scholarship, students must complete a personal statement indicating how they qualify for this award.

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.

N/A

Deadlines:
Spring: November 1st Summer 1 or Summer 1+2: April 1st Summer 2: May 1st Fall: June 1st

Guidelines/Requirements:
In order to be considered for this scholarship, students must explain how participation in an SFS program would broaden the diversity of the program.

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