|Homepage:||Click to visit|
|Program Sponsor:||Field Studies|
|Courses Offered:||Click here to view|
|Dates / Deadlines:|
|Term||Year||App Deadline||Decision Date||Start Date||End Date|
|Language of Instruction:||English||Class Eligibility:||2-Sophomore, 3-Junior, 4-Senior (fall only)|
|Minimum GPA:||2.8||Housing Options:||Dorms|
|Maximum Credits Earned (per semester):||4.0||Academic Area of Study:||Biology, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Latin American Studies, Spanish|
|Foreign Laguage Prerequisite:||1 semester (college) of Spanish|
In cooperation with the School for Field Studies (SFS), Dickinson students may participate in semester programs in a variety of locations. SFS's Center for Sustainable Development Studies in Atenas, Costa Rica is exploring means of promoting sustainable land use and effective land protection in response to pressure from population growth and a degraded natural resource base. With the results of this research, SFS will help to develop protocols and training for farmers to help them obtain organic certification, select and monitor indicators of biodiversity, as well as provide information about improving national park operations and relationships between parks and local people.
Costa Rica is currently undergoing a period of rapid economic and social change. As this resource-rich, wonderfully biodiverse country continues along a path of rapid development, it is increasingly influenced by global policy, such as the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and foreign markets. Costa Rica's economy has shifted from one based chiefly on agriculture to one driven by ecotourism and technology exports. At the same time, rapid rural-to-urban conversion is straining natural resources in ecologically fragile areas.
The country is at a critical juncture as resource management decisions are being made in an effort to keep pace with competitive global markets. Our goal is to study different development and resource management models that protect the biodiversity of Costa Rica's ecosystems while promoting socioeconomic benefits for its people.
The School for Field Studies (SFS) Costa Rica: Sustainable Development Studies Semester program provides 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.
This partner program requires students to have at a minimum:
All students must have a declared major at the time of application.
As a part of the review process students’ conduct records and account status are also reviewed. Students and their parents should note that the review process takes all elements of the student’s academic record into consideration and that even if a student has the required minimum GPA and language prerequisites, he or she may not be admitted.
Students who have questions about the review process or their particular candidacy for a program should come into the Center for Global Study and Engagement for advising.
Center staff will not discuss students’ applications with parents, friends or any other party without the student’s consent and presence in the conversation.
Students will focus on evaluating the success of Costa Rica's world-renowned land and biodiversity management systems and developing alternative strategies for economic development and biodiversity conservation, such as land-use planning, organic agriculture, and conservation outside of protected areas.
The program is a combination of coursework and field research. Classes include topics such as ecology, environmental economics, resource management, language, and culture. Students also participate in directed research using the field research skills they develop, develop management policies, conduct field research in a variety of locations, and analyze potential solutions for Costa Rica and the Central American region.
Courses are pre-determined and include:
The following courses have been approved in the past for credit towards BIO and ENVST. Note: Final approval for course equivalency is determined by the chair of the academic department in which you are seeking credit.
Abroad Course Title
Dickinson Course Equivalent
Tropical Ecology and Sustainable Development
BIOL 300-level elective
Principles of Resource Management
BIOL 300-level/ENVST elective
Economics and Ethical Issues and Sustainable Development
*Note: Credit for Directed Research is dependent upon the topic. Consult your major adviser for final approval on the research topic and satisfying the major research requirement.
Generally speaking, courses must have an equivalent at Dickinson. Exceptions include classes that focus on the culture and/or history of the country in which the student is studying. Transfer credit will not be awarded for coursework that duplicates what a student has already completed at Dickinson.
Yes, all courses taken with the SFS program count in the cumulative GPA.
Classes are taught in English; however, students will take a 2-credit Spanish Language and Culture course.
Students need at least one college-level Spanish course. You will have the opportunity to study Spanish and regional culture in the classroom, as well as gain invaluable practical experience through the study of survey and interview techniques; however, the primary focus of the program is field study and research, not intensive linguistic work.
Past research topics include:
A wide variety of excursions, camping trips, and research expeditions supplement your classwork. Visits to cloud forests, dry forests, volcanoes, lowland rainforests, and plantations in Costa Rica offer opportunities to examine management schemes, identify the benefits of protected areas, and determine which systems offer the best option for economic development, the maintenance of cultural norms, and the preservation of biodiversity.
Students’ lodging costs will be covered during overnight excursions. Also, any meals that would not be otherwise covered by a standard meal stipend for all students on the program will be covered. Group transportation to and from the excursion site, as well as group travel for all group activities will be covered. Students will not be reimbursed for snacks, personal travel and personal activities during an academic excursion.
Specific dates for longer excursions will be announced at the beginning of the semester. Local site visits in and around the SFS site will be organized and announced during the semester.
No, unfortunately, for logistical and academic reasons non program participants are not able to join the program for excursions.
Not necessarily. These excursions are linked to your academic program and, in some cases, content delivered through the excursion will be relevant to a student’s studies and assessment. All students should plan to participate in all excursions. If a student misses an excursion or a planned departure for a trip, these arrangements and costs will not be made up for the student. It is each student’s responsibility to be where they need to be in order to participate fully in each academic excursion.
In addition to the mandatory pre-departure orientation on campus, there will be an orientation upon arrival to the center in Costa Rica. Town tours, bonding activities, and introduction to the various center resources will all take place within the first two days.
Students on this program will be provided with a date on which they must arrive in Costa Rica. You must communicate your arrival plans with the SFS on-site Student Affairs Manager as well as the CGSE. To notify the CGSE, you should enter the flight information in your online program accessible here. Official dates for the program can be found here.
The School for Field Studies works with Advantage Travel to provide flights to Costa Rica. However, it is up to the individual student to coordinate their flight. Upon arrival, the on-site Student Affairs Manager will greet you and has arranged travel to the SFS site.
The School for Field Studies programs generally holds fairly packed schedules. There is a little time in the middle of the semester when you are required to leave Costa Rica for a temporary break. This mid-semester break is a good time for families to visit. Otherwise, you should not plan any visits from family or friends as you simply will not have the time. Dates for the mid-semester break are determined after arrival to the program.
The only time you have available to travel is during the mandatory mid-semester break.
Yes, but you should plan other housing arrangements as the center is closed prior to student arrival and directly after departure at the end of the semester.
Students pay Dickinson comprehensive fees to attend this program. The cost includes all tuition, room, board, local travel, and emergency health insurance. Airfare and visas are not included in this cost.
The fee covers tuition and fees, room and board, scheduled academic excursions and park entrance fees, field equipment and supplies, emergency medical insurance, and pre-departure and on-site orientation.
As a Partner Program, students may use their Dickinson financial aid to cover the Dickinson comprehensive fees to attend this program. Additional scholarships and aid are available from SFS and students are encouraged to apply.
This depends on you. There will not be much time for travel and meals are provided so most students find anywhere between $500 - $1000 is sufficient. See budget sheet.
Given that students do not need a large quantity of money, you should plan to bring funds with you.
No, students on this program do not receive a stipend.
The field station has a Student Affairs Manager whose job it is to oversee safety on site. They run the on-site orientation and help students acclimate to their new environment. They educate the students on local hazards, present the rules, and manage compliance. Each SAM is required to hold certification as a Wilderness First Responder (WFR), a 72-hour first aid training course. They assist students when they become ill or injured and are there if students just need someone to talk to. They communicate regularly with the Safety Department at SFS headquarters. In the event that you require medical attention, a staff member will accompany you to a medical facility.
In the event that you require medical attention during a program, a staff member will accompany you on the visit(s)to a medical facility. Public or private hospitals and clinics will not accept U.S. insurance for payment. In most cases, you will need to pay cash for medical expenses and then request reimbursement from your primary health insurance provider when you return home. Check your U.S. policy to determine if you have coverage while you are abroad and how to submit claims. Emergency medical and repatriation insurance is provided and included in the program fee. Please refer to the Field Guide provided by SFS for more information. Note: It is very difficult to see a specialist, so please take care of any pre-existing conditions prior to arrival.
See health and insurance abroad.
Students who study at The SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies' field station in Atenas will live on a hillside with spectacular views overlooking the Rio Grande River in the fertile Central Valley. The field station includes a large house, an outdoor classroom, a moderately sized organic garden, a patio and pool, as well as banana, mango, and orange groves, a chicken coop, and untouched forest areas with trails.
Students live in a dormitory (up to four to a room) with bathrooms. There is a classroom, small laboratory, and a computer room with internet access. The field station is part of the small neighborhood of La Presa/Los Angeles. The friendly town of Atenas is a short walk from the field station, while Costa Rica's tropical forests, beaches, mountains, and volcanoes are within a day's travel.
You should prepare to live with very minimal resources. The only available laundry is the ocean and freshwater showers are only allowed for each person once a week. However, salt water showers are sufficient and available for use at any time. You spend most of your time in the ocean so you will find this is a suitable substitute for the lifestyle you will adopt on the island.
No. Given the busy schedule and the lack of opportunities, students will focus on classes and fieldwork rather than an internship.
Students may be able to conduct research abroad under the guidance of a Dickinson advisor. The Student International Research Fund (SIRF) was established to help students with extra travel costs associated with independent research projects. Students are encouraged to present their research at the International Research Symposium when they return to campus.
Please see the “available research topics” heading under Academics for more information on sample research projects conducted by SFS Costa Rica students.
A visa is a document, normally affixed within your passport, which allows you to enter the country and stay for the duration of your program. The requirements for the visa and visa process are controlled by the government of the country you are entering, are non-negotiable, and can change regularly. If you arrive without the proper visa, you will be sent home by immigration officers at your own expense.
Yes, you will need to obtain a student visa after entering Costa Rica. Individuals planning to study in Costa Rica can only apply for a student visa from Costa Rican Immigration after arriving in the country. The SFS staff will assist you with this process.
You will need a valid US passport and proof of a plan to travel on to another country (i.e. round-trip ticket back to the US) to enter the country as a tourist. Once in country, SFS will help you in applying for a student visa to last the program duration.
No, you will apply for a student visa once you are in Costa Rica.
Visa fees are estimated at around $160. Keep in mind that you may be expected to pay a departure tax of $29 when leaving the country.
Yes, you will need to do your own research on visa requirements for citizens of your home country to study in Japan. The CGSE may be able to help you with the required documents. Also, you will need to inform Marlee Meikrantz and Jackie Wong that you will be studying outside of the United States and discuss how you will remain in valid F-1 status during your studies abroad.
Global Ambassadors are returning study abroad students who serve as peer advisors for their program. Please feel free to contact them for a student perspective.
Hello my name is Paige Clark and I am senior now, but in the Fall of 2013, my junior year, I studied abroad in Atenas, Costa Rica. I chose a Dickinson partner program through Boston University and the School for Field Studies that focused on sustainable development. I am International Studies major with a focus on Globalization and Sustainability with minors in Economics and Spanish. At the end of every week of my program we would go on field trips to National Parks, farms, small villages and plantations throughout Costa Rica and Nicaragua. There was always a new adventure and learning while out in the field was such a unique hands on experience. The last month of my abroad program we split up into research groups. My group and I did an Environmental Impact Assessment of a potential road in Tortuguero, a town currently only assessable via water taxi. We created our own surveys to collect data, interviewed locals and tourists, and calculated potential CO2 emissions. During our time in Tortuguero, we went to a town meeting giving us the opportunity to see the social and political impacts of this road as well as the environmental. We saw how sustainable development and environmental issues are so multifaceted and require an equally as complex solution. My abroad experience allowed me to see how important I find traveling and the opportunity of getting to explore different countries and cultures. I had some amazing experiences through service learning allowing me to get to know the local community, and I will be definitely be looking for similar experiences in a future career.
For more information, contact:
Center for Global Study and Engagement
Professor Carol Loeffler
P.O. Box 1773
Carlisle, PA 17013-2896
Phone: (717) 245-1360