Got a spirit for adventure? Would you walk long distances to see scarlet macaws, Baird's tapir, and maybe even the elusive jaguar? Then come along on the Winter Session trip to Costa Rica, where you can earn 6 credits studying Costa Rica's rich and varied ecosystems while learning about the debate over the human footprint on Planet Earth.
The program combines field analyses of tropical biodiversity with discussions of the most controversial issues in conservation biology, using the Costa Rican national park system as a model for tropical conservation. You'll study the ecological and evolutionary causes of the extraordinarily high levels of biodiversity in Costa Rica, the ways in which such diversity benefits humans, and the history and politics of conservation, preservation, and restoration projects in Costa Rica.
Traditional lecture and discussion format is supplemented with many hikes (some of which are physically demanding!) and hands-on projects in places such as the tropical dry forests and coastal mangroves of Guanacaste National Park, the montane cloud forests of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, the Pacific rainforests of Corcovado National Park, and the Caribbean rainforests of the La Selva Biological Research Station. (The itinerary varies from year to year but includes most of Costa Rica’s representative ecosystems.)
You'll live and eat at the research facilities used by some of the world's leading tropical biologists and should see an unimaginable diversity of insects and birds; squirrel, howler, spider, and white-faced capuchin monkeys; and numerous endangered species, including American crocodiles, tapirs, and quetzals. You will snorkel over the Pacific reefs of Cano Island Biological Reserve, and you may witness sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach and/or hatching baby turtles scurrying to the ocean.
With the exception of food purchased in the airport, the program fee includes all meals.