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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: La Fortuna, Costa Rica; La Tigra, Costa Rica; Monteverde, Costa Rica; Pal Michal, Costa Rica; Rancho Margot, Costa Rica; San Jose, Costa Rica; Terraba, Costa Rica; Uvita, Costa Rica
  • Program Terms: Winter
  • Restrictions: Longwood applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Program Model: Faculty-led Language of Instruction: English
Class Status: 2 - Sophomore, 3 - Junior, 4 - Senior Program Type: Study abroad
Minimum GPA: 2.0 Program Leader: Melanie Marks
Housing: Hotel
Program Description:

Sustainability, Ecotourism, and Economic Development in Costa Rica

Melanie Marks
Program Overview
Local FareLearn how Costa Rica's national focus on environmental protection has made it the number one destination for ecotourism and has led to economic development that outpaces most other Central American nations. Experience life in a country that is 99% carbon neutral and makes the environment its central priority. While traveling, you will enjoy both ecotourism and cultural activities led by locals to learn what “pura vida” is all about for Ticos. The course starts online and continues in Costa Rica, and days are very active. The program is open to all majors, regardless of their background in economics. 

Highlights include:
• Visiting a family-owned sustainable coffee farm
• Living in an indigenous village and learning about their way of life.
• Learning about exotic plants and animals while hiking, boating, and night trekking.
• Experiencing community-based tourism that creates employment and income for rural Ticos.
• Swimming in stunning waterfalls and visiting beautiful beaches.
• Completing the largest zip-line canopy course in Monteverde (and over the continental divide).
• Seeing the mountain range and coffee farms while horseback riding through breathtaking scenery.
• Visiting a rural school, learning about the economic challenges they face, and playing sports with the children.
• White water rafting down the country's cleanest river.
• Staying in interesting and sustainable housing options, including community-based lodges, bungalows in an indigenous reserve, and ecolodges in the jungle. 

Participants should note that many activities involve trekking for up to 3 hours in terrain that is not overly rugged, but has inclines/declines, hanging bridges, and possibly puddles and mud. Some activities involve high elevations, such as zip-lining and a hanging bridges trek. Costa Rica has micro-climates, where temperatures will vary from cool to tropical, and light rain is likely. Students will be restricted to a carry-on suitcase and student backpack and will have policies related to consumption of alcohol (limited times and quantities), appropriate dress (casual but reasonably conservative), and use of cell phones for purposes other than photography (restricted during group meals, activities, and presentations, etc.).

Course Descriptions

ECON 301: Economic Development, Tourism, and Sustainability in Costa Rica: The goal of this course is to provide students with an overview of Latin America with a specific focus on the country of Costa Rica. Students will understand that Costa Rica is a model for sustainable development, despite the fact that there are many challenges. Topics will include: introduction to sustainable development, economics of Central America, eco-tourism as a way to promote development, the importance of trade and the impact on the country/region, importance of coffee, sugar, and banana industries (and associated trade concerns), alternatives to GDP as measures of economic progress, rainforest destruction/protection, and economic/social issues including squatting, prostitution, and drugs. This course starts online in December and continues while in Costa Rica. Coffee Harvest

There are no prerequisites for this program or course. 

Housing Students and faculty will stay in ecolodges or hotels that promote a sustainable approach to tourism. While some lodges will be more rustic, all will have showers and modern toilets. For example, students will stay in a community ecolodge that provides employment and revenue for a rural community in one of the coffee growing regions. They will also stay in an ecolodge built by an indigenous community.

Information SessionLa Playa

Thursday, February 22 at 3:30 in Hiner 212
Thursday, March 22 at 3:30 in Hiner 212
Tuesday, April 10 at 5:00 in Hiner 212


January 3, 2019 - January 13, 2019

Day 1: Depart from Dulles airport, arrive and head to Pal Michal (coffee growing region), explore forest, scenic trek. Overnight in community eco-lodge project.
Day 2: Visit family-owned coffee farm and local processing plant, learn about local economy, Latin dancing and bonfire with area students. Overnight in community eco-lodge project.
Day 3: Head to Monteverde cloud forest, horseback riding in mountains.
Day 4: Tour Santa Elena Reserve to learn about eco-project, extreme zip lining canopy eco-tour over continental divide.
Day 5: Cross Lake Arenal by boat, travel to La Fortuna town, complete hanging bridges eco-trek, visit volcanic thermal waters at night.
Day 6: Tour sustainable rural farm, head to rural school for lunch in La Altura, visit with families and students, learn about education in Costa Rica, play sports with kids.
Day 7: Travel to Pacific Coast, stop at Crocodile Bridge, catch sunset at Manuel Antonio beach.
Day 8: Head to indigenous community, community tour, cultural activities, overnight in ecolodges.
Day 9: Continue with activities in indigenous community, head to Playa Ventana beach and Uvita.
Day 10: Head to Rafiki lodge for whitewater rafting, waterfall visit, birding, lunch in jungle, head back toward airport.
Day 11: Depart for home. This itinerary is very full and the group will relocate just about every day in order to see as much of the country as possible.

Note that, depending on airline itinerary, the group might depart for Costa Rica the day before and stay overnight in the community of Alajuela. 

*Note: Itinerary is subject to change*
Program Costs
Horse riding
Program fees are expected to be $2,250. This includes all transportation (including airfare), housing, activities, excursions, and most meals. Students are responsible to purchase required travel insurance. Longwood tuition will be billed separately. 


The Office of International Affairs offers three scholarships:

  • Lancers Abroad Scholarship: up to $500 for short-term programs or $900 for semester programs
  • Presidential Scholarship: up to $2,000 for semester-long programs in which participants are studying in non-Anglophone countries (generally reserved for foreign language majors, but students taking courses in the host language are also encouraged to apply).
  • Global Engagement Scholarship: up to $1,200 for those participating in a faculty-led program; applicants must be Pell Grant recipients to be eligible.

Honors students are eligible for separate funding through the Cormier Honors College. Contact Jessi Znosko to get started.

For more information on these and many other scholarship opportunities, visit our Scholarships page.
More InformationRope bridge
  • Participation in any credit-bearing study abroad program through Longwood will waive General Education Goal 9.
  • Questions about academic content? Contact Dr. Melanie Marks
  • Questions about the study abroad process for this program? Contact Dr. Emily Kane


For more information, click the tabs at the top of the brochure.

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.