- 18 years of age or above
- Good academic and disciplinary standing at Penn State
- Summer programs: 2.6 cumulative GPA or better at the time of application review
- Semester programs: 2.8 cumulative GPA or better at the time of application review
- Sophomore standing or above at the start of the program
- Semester programs: 1 semester of college-level ecology, biology, or environmental studies/science required
- Note: SFS programs are very popular. Applications may close early if a program location reaches capacity for a given semester. Applications for the spring 2024 SFS Costa Rica program have now closed.
Go off the beaten path and experience sustainability in action. Spend a semester in Costa Rica, home to rainforests, volcanoes, rushing waterfalls, and a laid-back culture that reflects the national motto: “Pura Vida.” Immerse yourself in the country’s many national parks, farms, and tropical ecosystems full of incredible biodiversity. Design and conduct a rigorous field research project and learn how Costa Ricans are creatively addressing conservation and development issues.
On the Sustainable Development Studies program, you will take three 4-credit disciplinary courses, one 2-credit language and culture course, and a 4-credit capstone Directed Research course. Courses are participatory in nature and are designed to foster inquiry and active learning. Each course combines lectures, field exercises, assignments, tests, and research. All courses are taught in English.
Summer Session I: Biodiversity and Sustainable Food Systems
You’ll never look at a cup of coffee the same way again. Using coffee and chocolate as case studies, explore the relationships between food systems, ecology, conservation, and sustainability. Learn how different agricultural techniques have the potential to restore biodiversity and combat climate change. Study the sociocultural history of coffee and cacao, from Indigenous histories to modern production and exports.
Summer Session II: Environmental Justice From The Ground Up
Tackle the challenging topic of environmental justice from a community point-of-view. In studying this crucial subject, we find that many solutions originate with the very communities being denied access to the natural resources that sustain them. Dive deep into the themes of food sovereignty, water access and management, tourism’s impact on biodiversity, and the development of sustainable resource alternatives. Explore diverse perspectives on controversial environmental management issues, learn to conduct community-based data collection, and support community members reaching their own solutions to natural resource management and protection.
During each summer session, you will take one 4-credit course. Courses are participatory in nature and are designed to foster inquiry and active learning combining lectures, field exercises, assignments, and tests. These courses are taught in English.
Fall: Early September - mid-December
Spring: Late January- Early May
Summer Session I: Early June - Early July
Summer Session II: Early July - Early August
Refer to the program website for the specific dates, if available.
Go off the beaten path and experience sustainability in action. Spend a semester in Costa Rica, home to rainforests, volcanoes, rushing waterfalls, and a laid-back culture that reflects the national motto: “Pura Vida.” Explore the country’s many diverse parks, farms, and reserves to learn how Costa Ricans have balanced conservation and development issues. Wrap up the semester in the field, collecting data for a research project that will help inform future sustainability efforts. The Center is located on a Rainforest Alliance certified sustainable farm producing mangoes and oranges and is embedded in the community of La Presa, Los Angeles de Atenas with access to national parks, beaches and volcanoes.
Education Abroad in Countries with a Penn State Restricted Travel Designation
In order to comply with Penn State’s International Travel Policy, students interested in studying abroad in countries that Penn State has designated as “restricted” for travel, a petition for a waiver must be submitted. Once a petition is complete, and if the student is approved for study on the program in question, the student may be asked to meet with the Director of Education Abroad and the petition will be reviewed by the Penn State International Restricted Travel Committee (IRTC). The necessary petition will be included in the online application process for this program. To see if your program is taking place in a restricted travel country, please visit the Penn State Global website.