Programs by Country: Costa Rica + Dialogue of Civilizations

COSTA RICA AND NICARAGUA: Social and Environmental Sustainability in Central America (closed)

Dialogue of Civilizations | , Costa Rica

Faculty Leaders: Lori Gardinier ( and Ron Sandler (

Study Abroad Coordinator: Colleen Boyle (

Term: Summer II


  • HUSV4945 Leadership & International Program Development
  • PHIL1181 Environmental Ethics Abroad


This interdisciplinary program explores contemporary issues in social and environmental sustainability in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  Students will examine how economic development and globalization influences the social and ecological environments.   Participants will engage in service-learning within non-profit organizations, visit agricultural and environmental programs, and refine their Spanish language skills all while living with Costa Rican families.   They will also study and analyze alternative approaches to ecosystem management, including species conservation, and agriculture, with an emphasis on the values that underlie them and the challenges that human impacts on the environment (particularly global climate change) pose to them.   Particular attention will be giving to the ethics and practices within the ecotourism industry, the role of public private partnerships, the relationship between social and environmental sustainability, and the ecological and social roles of national parks.   Using lectures, presentations, case studies, field trips, and service-learning this program will expose student to the theoretical and ethical frameworks used to explain and evaluate social and ecological systems and practices.  While in service-learning placements students will develop and apply skills and techniques for program development and implementation in the nonprofit sector.  This experiential program focuses on program evaluation techniques within nonprofits, ethics in international volunteerism/foreign nonprofit interventions, globalization and its influence on the nonprofit sector, and ethical issues in ecosystem management, biodiversity conservation, and ecological sustainability.