The School for Field Studies (SFS) semester and summer programs in Costa Rica provide the opportunity for students to examine the effects of globalization on classic development issues such as agriculture, biodiversity protection, economic development, urban sprawl, population growth, waste management, and water resources. Student research analyzes different development and resource management models that protect the biodiversity of Costa Rica’s ecosystems while promoting socioeconomic benefits for its people. SEMESTER PROGRAM The semester program focuses on evaluating the actual success of Costa Rica’s world-renowned conservation systems and developing alternative strategies for economic development and biodiversity conservation, such as land-use planning, organic agriculture, and conservation outside of protected areas. SUMMER PROGRAMS Each 4-credit summer session may be taken individually or in combination. Session I: Sustaining Tropical Ecosystems: Biodiversity, Conservation, & Development Student research will focus on examining the impacts of development on the environment and on society by understanding key historical and current aspects of sustainable development strategies in Costa Rica, coupled with knowledge of tropical ecosystem function and connectivity. Session II: Applied Research Techniques & Strategies Toward Sustainability The focus of this program is on developing relevant research questions that address these local issues related to sustainability. Students will be directly 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.
The School for Field Studies (SFS) semester program in Peru seeks to understand the conflicts and synergies of conservation and development in western Amazonia and the adjacent Andean highlands. Students learn firsthand about the ecological patterns and processes that underpin the extraordinary biodiversity of the Andes-Amazon region along the eastern slope of the Peruvian Andes, as well as the effects of climate change and land use on regional and global biodiversity and human well-being. Through coursework, field exercises, and Directed Research, students experience the richness of the Andes-Amazon region, study community dependence on the environment, examine threats to the environment and to social networks, and explore the tools and strategies that both mitigate threats and promote well-being among different communities. Our research projects are geared towards identifying the range of socio-ecological issues, as well as basic questions about biodiversity, that help us guide and inform the program's research agenda.
Bocas Del Toro, Panama
The School for Field Studies (SFS) semester and summer programs in Bocas del Toro provides students with an exciting opportunity to conduct research and explore the rural Caribbean and the isthmus of Panama. Bocas del Toro is home to biologically diverse marine and terrestrial ecosystems, such as coral reefs, mangrove cays, white sand beaches, and tropical rainforests. However, poor management of both the development of these areas and the subsequent resource use by residents and tourists has put increasing pressures on these ecosystems, threatening the human, animal, and plant communities that depend on them. The curriculum of the program focuses on defining key island systems, both natural and human, and how they interface. Our research in Bocas del Toro has already revealed patterns and processes at the nexus of biodiversity, conservation, and human welfare that merit ongoing study. Through field observations and research, students identify and understand the pressures, both direct and indirect, on the environment and social systems. SEMESTER PROGRAM The central theme of the semester program is "islands as a delicate system," with emphasis on the resources of Panama's coastal and marine environments. Students will explore several key interfaces: human and natural systems, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and conservation and development. SUMMER PROGRAM This 4-credit summer session may be taken individually or in combination with a Session II course. Session I: Tourism and Island Systems: Assessment of Sustainable Practices Students in this summer program examine key aspects of tourism and environmental assessment of tropical ecosystems, and explore sustainable development strategies for the Bocas del Toro Archipelago at local and global scales.