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COSTA RICA: Atenas
School for Field Studies
Fall/Spring Semester Program
Green and fertile with rolling hills, Atenas is a flourishing agricultural region known for its animal husbandry, coffee and sugar production and fruit orchards. Daily life is focused on family and rooted in tradition, such as the Friday Farmers Market where fresh produce, flowers and meats can be purchased from local growers or Saturday Bingo games next to the church.
Costa Rica is currently undergoing a period of great economic and social change. As this resource-rich, wonderfully biodiverse country continues along a path of rapid development, it is becoming increasingly influenced by global policy such as the Central American Fair Trade Act (CAFTA) and foreign markets. Costa Rica's economy has shifted from one predominately based on agriculture to one driven by ecotourism and technology exports. At the same time, brisk population growth is straining natural and developed resources. The country now faces 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 sustainable management models that protect the biodiversity of Costa Rica's ecosystems while promoting socioeconomic benefits for its people.
The Center for Sustainable Development Studies is a small farm 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, an organic garden, a patio, and pool. Students live in a dormitory (up to four to a room) with bathrooms. There is a classroom, small laboratory, and a library/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.
Explore the field station HERE.
Students will examine the effects of globalization on classic sustainability issues such as agro-ecology, national park protection, economic development, urban sprawl, population growth, trash management, and air quality. Students focus on evaluating the success of Costa Rica's world-renowned management systems as well as developing alternative strategies, such as sustainable practices and organic agriculture as an alternative to poaching around national parks, that conserve biodiversity and protect natural resources. Visits to cloud forests, dry forests, volcanic parks, lowland rainforests, and plantations 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. Understanding the forces that are driving Costa Rica's policies as well as those driving change, will be key as students analyze potential natural resource solutions for Costa Rica, and hopefully, beyond.
SFS Pre-Approved Course List
. NOTE: Core curriculum designations on this list pertain to OLD core only.
Visit the SFS website for the program in Atenas
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.
To view SFS Costa Rica's YouTube video, CLICK HERE