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University of Colorado Denver

Study Abroad/Global Education

The Costa Rican Experience

Sustainable Development & Adaptive Resource Management in the Field

Maymester 2015
​Costa Rica offers a rich and unique stage with some of the best examples in the world for the study of socio-cultural, economic and environmental systems and their interactions, including: humid tropical forests, plant, animal and insect diversity, historical and socio-cultural influences from Mesoamerica and South America, the use of ecotourism as a development alternative, one of the largest water transfer projects in the world (Lake Arenal), environmental justice and development, large hydro-electric production plants and wind energy farms, resort developments, natural hazards, extensive vs. ecological/integrated tropical cattle ranching, agriculture and forestry, and unique turtle nesting sites and conservation projects.​

Students will analyze and then experience in the field how human societies and economies are complex systems embedded within the natural environment, another complex adaptive system, on which they depend for support. Since these three systems interact and coevolve, the sustainability goal translates more accurately into a goal of Sustainable Development. Learning from experience and adapting to changing conditions are essential to Adaptive Management of the environment and resources. Students will apply systems thinking to conceptualize these terms and analyze their socio-economic implementations in tropical rainforests, high tropical forests, dry costal tropical forests, dry coastal areas, lagoon ecosystems and river estuaries.​

Visit this CU Denver Costa Rica Field School YouTube channel to see short videos by alumni of this course. They are grouped in two playlists "Highlights" and "Reflections" 

 2013 Info Session


Quick Facts

  • Course GEOG 4995/5995 or ENVS 4995/5995
  • Faculty Rafael Moreno​
  • Dates May 25 - June 6, 2015
  • Cost $2,820
  • Deadline March 1, 2015
  • Credits 4
  • Prerequisites 3​​.0 GPA OR permission from instructor based on improvement of grades in recent semesters. Preferred: ENVS 1042 OR any equivalent course. 
  • Program Advisor   Meghan Atherton​

Costs and dates tentative and subject to change.​

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