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Lehigh in Costa RicaSummer 2014 Flyer!

Read about our first cohort in summer 2012!

REGISTRATION DEADLINE:  Rolling admissions. Click here for further details!

INFORMATION SESSION

Click here for information session times.

Talk to a past participant!

 

PROGRAM DATES
Service Learning :  Appox. 2 weeks in August 2015
Summer Internship:  Approx. 6-7 weeks in July-August 2015

PROGRAM DIRECTOR  
Professor Donald Morris
Earth and Environmental Science

dpm2@lehigh.edu

 

PROGRAM COSTS

Service Learning : $1,400 (tentative) This includes a family home-stay in the San Luis Valley for the nights of August 7-19 (tentative), 2014.  The program cost also includes an international Student ID Card.  Not included: airfare, local travel, meals outside the program, laundry, personal expenses, personal weekend travel and/or other costs.

Summer Internship: $3,400 (tentative) - Eligible students may also apply the Internship program as an Iaccoca Intern.

Please note that the Summer Internship fulfills the EES Field Requirement for the BS.

 

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Summer Programs in Sustainable Development in Costa Rica

The Lehigh in Costa Rica Program has operated study abroad courses for over 17 years. The close association developed between Lehigh’s faculty and a variety of Costa Rican NGOs (non-government organizations) has allowed us to expand our program to include two new initiatives: 1) A 7-week summer internship program, and 2) A summer environmentally-oriented “summer serve” project. Both activities are closely tied to sustainable development as described below.

The approximate date for the 7-week internship is June 26th to August 19th, 2014. Students from ALL of Lehigh’s majors and colleges are considered and Spanish fluency is NOT required for many internship sites. Financial support is available in a variety of forms (see below).

Costa Rica is an ideal location to study sustainable development because it has been woven into the fabric of Costa Rican society and constitutes the core of Costa Rican development strategy. Costa Rica has made progress in the area of prosperity and social equity. Remarkable progress has also been made in the environment through extensive preservation of large tracts of land. In fact, about 26% of Costa Rica has been preserved as national parks, reserves, and conservation areas. Most of these tracts are owned by the National government but many are also held by private individuals and conservation trusts. Tourism has been an important industry in shaping the economic development of Costa Rica (it represented ~10% of GDP in 2010). Much of the growth of tourism is linked specifically to “ecotourism” which attracts visitors to the country largely based upon its rich ecosystem and biotic diversity. In many regions of Costa Rica, ecotourism is the instrument that connects conservation to economic development. Thus, progress in conservation has the potential not only to protect biological diversity, but to synergistically expand economic activity through ecotourism.

Although Costa Rica has had remarkable success with respect to forest management, many undisturbed tracts exist as fragmented, isolated “islands” in a landscape that has become degraded by agriculture, tourism, or urbanization. One of the most pressing conservation goals in Latin America is to reconnect many of these tracts of land with intact biological corridors via the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor which stretches from southern Mexico through Panama. Conservationists are actively involved in preserving and reforesting critical sections of this biological corridor. The resulting new forest patches will help to improve forest connectivity and will directly contribute to the establishment of new habitats for a variety of animal species. Reforestation is also part of a broader effort to engage local landowners as part of the solution by developing market-based incentive programs which will provide income to them for reforesting degenerated landscapes and protecting existing forests on their farms. Reforestation efforts will eventually attract ecotourism to the region which will stimulate economic development.

The conservation activity described here has impacts well beyond Costa Rica. Because reforestation sequesters CO2 (a “greenhouse” gas), it has implications for global climate and for the development of global scale policies to “offset” or mitigate anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The conservation activities described here are also easily transferred throughout Central America (and beyond) to link critical conservation and economic development goals inherent in the concept of sustainable development.

The Programs’ Objectives

The goal of program is to augment classroom education currently available to students in environmental science or environmental studies with practical on-the-ground experience in sustainable development projects. Students will work on projects related to conservation, particularly in the area of building and/or maintaining biological corridors. The sustainability and integrity of Costa Rica’s environment is crucial to the ecotourism strategy of sustainable development for which Costa Rica is well known. These programs are designed to address the following educational goals:

  • Allow students who lack the time or financial resources for a semester-long study abroad program to participate in international learning experiences.
  • Create international opportunities specifically tailored to students with an academic background or general interest in the environment and/or international development.
  • Demonstrate the inherent interdisciplinary character of “sustainable development” studies by emphasizing the connections among environmental conservation, economic development, and social/economic equity.
  • Provide students with an appreciation for the environmental aspects of sustainable development in rural Latin America and expose students to issues related to conservation and preservation of biotic and ecosystem diversity.
  • Expose students to Latin American culture and reinforce Lehigh’s connection with various NGOs in Costa Rica.

The 5-week Internships

Interns will begin the program on the Lehigh campus by participating in several modular “boot camp” seminars that will be conducted during the preceding spring semester. These modules highlight the basic principles of sustainable development as well as relevant academic content related to development economics, community participation, field work methods, the political economy of poverty, and project management, as well as the polity, economy, society, and culture of Costa Rica. Students in this internship program will also participate in a module
containing instruction in ecosystem ecology, conservation, and environmental policy relevant to their impending activities in Costa Rica.

After arriving in Costa Rica, students will spend approximately 5 weeks in internships with NGOs focused on various aspects of forest conservation related to sustainable development. In many cases, students will live in the local community through family homestays. The specific internship will be selected for each student according to their particular interests and their Spanish language proficiency (some will require a high level of fluency while others may not). Students will be placed at one of the following institutions which we have utilized since 2011 or have been associated with during our 17 years in Costa Rica with the winter study abroad courses (note the attached hyperlinks for each):

Asociacion de Desarrollo Integral de San Luis
Centro Cientifico Tropical (esp. Los Cusingos)
Osa Conservation
FUNDECOR
Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center
University of Georgia, San Luis

The last 2 weeks of the internship program consist of a “Summer Serve” environmental community service project. This feature will allow new students (not involved in the previous 5-week internship) to participate in the program. During 2012, “Summer Serve” students established a permanent forest survey plot near the University of Georgia’s Costa Rica campus in San Luis. This site will be a crucial ongoing research plot that will help assess the success of the Pájaro Campana Biological Corridor. During 2013, “Summer Serve” students worked on reforestation and infrastructure improvement projects at Osa Conservation and constructed a community biogas production facility near San Luis. The biogas facility will help meet the energy needs of the community while improving water quality in the associated watershed. A unique community service project is developed annually; potential projects for 2014 are currently under consideration.

Over the past 2 years, most of our 17 participants have received some form of financial support. Depending upon whether a student qualifies, the bulk of the cost of the internship (including airfare, accommodations, local transportation, project supplies, and a stipend) will be covered by the Lee Iacocca International Internship Program. Other more modest support packages may be available through the EI-STEPS Summer Internship/Research Program or through other entities. Students who do not qualify for financial support will be billed according to the specific costs associated with each internship (approximately $3400 for the 7-week internship inclusive of airfare, accommodations, local transportation, project supplies, etc.).

Environmental Community Service Project

See a PowerPoint from one of our Summer 2013 participants!

This 12-day Environmental Community Service Project will be conducted in the San Luis Valley of Costa Rica, just below the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Conservation activities will focus on the Pájaro Campana Biological Corridor which forms part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor that stretches from southern Mexico through Panama. Conservationists are actively involved in preserving and reforesting critical sections of this biological corridor. The resulting new forest patches will help to improve forest connectivity throughout the Pájaro Campana Biological Corridor and will directly contribute to the establishment of new habitat for a variety of animal species including the three-wattled bellbird and the resplendent quetzal, two migratory species greatly impacted by habitat loss in this region. Reforestation is also part of a broader effort to engage local landowners as part of the solution by developing market-based incentive programs which will provide income to them for reforesting degenerated pastures and protecting existing forests on their farms.

Lehigh students participating in this program would be involved in the reforestation efforts which are critical to preserving biodiversity in this region. They will also be involved in ecological research to evaluate the extent of existing forest fragmentation as well as the success of reforestation efforts. These efforts are substantially more than “just planting trees.” A few possible student activities are provided below:

  • Map land-use and forest cover in the region using GPS. Map the fringes of existing forest tracts as well as mapping forest fragments. The resulting GIS coverage would be critical in assessing existing deforestation and planning future reforestation strategies.
  • Locate and map areas of past reforestation. Once located, the success of these reforested tracts can be evaluated based upon seedling survival, viability, and community structure.
  • Make annual measurements of tree growth in reforested tracts. The resulting estimates of growth rate could be converted into carbon sequestration rates.
  • Work in the nursery related to the propagation of indigenous tree species.
  • Help plant trees from the nursery into the forest.

These activities will help Lehigh students gain an appreciation for conservation issues and help them to better understand the important link between policy, economics, land use, and conservation. Students with an academic background in environmental science will constructively apply their skills to real-world problems, while practicing skills related to data collection and interpretation.

The community service project will be centered at the University of Georgia campus in San Luis, Costa Rica.  Students will be housed with families (home-stays) throughout the San Luis Valley. The community service project will require a substantial amount of field work but will also include academic and cultural activities. Partial financial support for students may be available through Lehigh’s Taskforce for Sustainable Development (ask for details). Projected dates for the Environmental Community Service Project are August 7 - 21, 2013.

LOCATION

Costa Rica is an ideal location to study sustainable development because it has been woven into the fabric of Costa Rican society and constitutes the core of Costa Rican development strategy. Costa Rica has made progress in the area of prosperity and social equity. Remarkable progress has also been made in the environment through extensive preservation of large tracts of land. In fact, about 26% of Costa Rica has been preserved as national parks, reserves, and conservation areas.  Most of these tracts are owned by the national government but many are also held by private individuals and conservation trusts. Tourism has been an important industry in shaping the economic development of Costa Rica (it represented ~10% of GDP in 2010).  Much of the growth of tourism is linked specifically to “ecotourism” which attracts visitors to the country largely based upon its rich ecosystem and biotic diversity.  In many regions of Costa Rica, ecotourism is the instrument that connects conservation to economic development. Thus, progress in conservation has the potential not only to protect biological diversity, but to synergistically expand economic activity through ecotourism.

Although Costa Rica has had remarkable success with respect to forest management, many undisturbed tracts exist as fragmented, isolated “islands” in a landscape that has become degraded by agriculture, tourism, or urbanization. One of the most pressing conservation goals in Latin America is to reconnect many of these tracts of land with intact biological corridors via the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor which stretches from southern Mexico through Panama. Conservationists are actively involved in preserving and reforesting critical sections of this biological corridor. The resulting new forest patches will help to improve forest connectivity and will directly contribute to the establishment of new habitats for a variety of animal species. Reforestation is also part of a broader effort to engage local landowners as part of the solution by developing market-based incentive programs which will provide income to them for reforesting degenerated landscapes and protecting existing forests on their farms. Reforestation efforts will eventually attract ecotourism to the region which will stimulate economic development.

The conservation activity described here has impacts well beyond Costa Rica. Because reforestation sequesters CO2 (a “greenhouse” gas), it has implications for global climate and for the development of global scale policies to “offset” or mitigate anthropogenic CO2 emissions.  The conservation activities described here are also easily transferred throughout Central America (and beyond) to link critical conservation and economic development goals inherent in the concept of sustainable development.

ACCOMODATIONS

Service Learning :  The community service project will be centered at the University of Georgia campus in San Luis, Costa Rica.  Students will be housed with families (home-stays) throughout the San Luis Valley.
Summer Internship:  (TBD)


 

COURSES OFFERED

**Non-credit-bearing international service-learning or internship program

 


 

REGISTER NOW!

 

Lehigh University
Study Abroad Office
32 Sayre Drive, Coxe Hall
Bethlehem, PA  18015


WINTER PROGRAM: REGISTER NOW!

Leopard Costa Rica

Lehigh in Costa Rica Winter 2014-15 Flyer!

Lehigh in Costa Rica WInter 2014-15 Brochure!

REGISTRATION DEADLINE:  Rolling admissions. Click here for further details!

 

INFORMATION SESSION

Click here for information session times.

Talk to a past participant!

 

PROGRAM DATES
December 26, 2014 - January 14, 2015

PROGRAM DIRECTOR  
Professor Donald Morris
Earth and Evironmental Science

dpm2@lehigh.edu

 

PROGRAM COSTS

* A limited number of $500-$1,500 need-based scholarships are also available. Applications will be evaluated according to a student's financial need and an essay describing the possible significance of this experience to their academic and professional development. 2014 Deadlines are posted on the 2014 Travel Grant Application.

$4,100 (tentative) This includes tuition for three credits, double occupancy room for the nights of December 26, 2014 to January 14, 2015 and breakfast.  The program cost also includes an international Student ID Card.  Not included: airfare, local travel, meals outside the program, laundry, personal expenses, personal weekend travel and/or other costs.

 

PROGRAM OVERVIEW
SDEV-122 and EES-042 are 20-day courses taught simultaneously in Costa Rica during winter break.  You may enroll in only ONE of these courses concurrently. Both courses require some class meetings and academic work during the preceding fall semester. (See dates listed below.)

LOCATION
Costa Rica is a small (size of West Virginia) Central American nation which lies on a narrow strip of land separating the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Costa Rica’s tropical climate, geographic location, and evolutionary past have combined to provide a rich diversity of habitats and a spectacular array of biota. Habitats range from mangrove swamps to rain and cloud forests to seasonal dry forests and alpine meadows situated near active volcanoes. This small strip of land boasts over 10% of the world’s bird and butterfly species, as well as over 1,200 species of orchids!

Costa Rica is internationally recognized for its innovative approaches to conservation and sustainable development. At considerable economic cost, the country has preserved over 25% of its land area as national parks or private reserves. Costa Rican society is currently debating the trade-offs between economic development and environmental preservation. The Costa Rican experience provides numerous real-world examples of the complex and diverse forces that threaten tropical ecosystems and various attempts to preserve these ecosystems and still grow economically.

Compared with other Central American nations, Costa Rica has been blessed with remarkable stability: few extremes of wealth and poverty, no standing army, and a proud history as the region’s most stable democracy. The country is a growing destination for ecotourism and hosts a number of university field courses on tropical ecology.

ACCOMODATIONS

Students will depart for San Jose, Costa Rica on December 26, 2014 and return on January 14, 2015. In Costa Rica, transportation and accommodations will be arranged by the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), which has substantial experience operating similar educational programs in the region. While at OTS’s biological stations, students will be housed in student dormitories. In San Jose and other populated areas, students will be housed (multiple occupancy) in hotels.


 

COURSES OFFERED


EES-042 The Natural History of Costa Rica *
(3 credits/Natural Science)


This course will expose students to the unique interaction of ecology, geology, and climate that has shaped the natural history of Costa Rica. Topics will include population, community, and ecosystem ecology, as well as evolution and natural selection as they pertain to the biota of Costa Rica. Biodiversity and conservation biology will also be a major focus of the course. It will expose students to the natural history of Costa Rica via classroom lectures, electronic media, observations, and field exercises.

 For more information, CLICK HERE

 

SDEV-122 Sustainable Development: The Costa Rican Experience * (3 credits/Social Science)

This course investigates the concept of sustainable development as it is currently being practiced in Costa Rica. The course is an examination of sustainable development and its implementation in Costa Rica. Students investigate sustainable agriculture and energy, ecotourism, land use planning and management, and the issue of biodiversity vs. resource exploitation in forests. Students also learn about Costa Rica, its social fabric, history, government, and culture.

For more information, CLICK HERE

 

* Both courses REQUIRE student program participants to attend the following pre-program class meetings: October 14, 21 & 28; November 4 & 11; December 2, 2014

 


REGISTER NOW!

 

Lehigh University
Study Abroad Office
32 Sayre Drive, Coxe Hall
Bethlehem, PA  18015


 

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