Sustainability, Ecotourism, and Economic Development in Costa Rica
Study sustainability and the economics of ecotourism in beautiful Costa Rica alongside Longwood students and faculty. Learn how the country’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. Enjoy both ecotourism and cultural activities led by locals and learn what “pura vida” is all about for Ticos. Highlights include trekking in rain forests and cloud forests, visiting beaches to look for sloths and monkeys, swimming in waterfalls, completing a canopy zip-line tour over the continental divide, experiencing life in an indigenous village (and challenging them to soccer), a visit to a rural school, and learning about coffee at a family-owned farm. The course starts online and continues in Costa Rica, meaning that there is more time for activities, excursions, and interacting with locals. The program is open to all majors, regardless of their background in economics. Participants should note that many activities involve trekking and students should be prepared for hiking that is reasonably mild, involving small hills, significant inclines/declines for short distances, and some dirt paths.
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.
Sessions will be held at 3:45 in Hiner 201
- February 21
- March 16
- March 21
- April 6
- April 20
Meetings will continue in the fall if spaces remain.
- 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, possible night trek in jungle.
- 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, tour Rancho Margo in UNESCO biosphere reserve (negative carbon footprint), explore La Fortuna town, visit volcanic thermal waters at night.
- Day 6: Trek Hanging Bridges ecotourism project, head to rural school for lunch in La Altura, visit with families and students, learn about education in Costa Rica, play sports, etc.
- Day 7: Tour Fortuna waterfall community development project, swim, head to Pacific Coast, stop at Crocodile Bridge, catch sunset at Manuel Antonio beach.
- Day 8: Head to indigenous community, community tour, sports and games with local children, Bri Bri language and culture lessons, dancing and music, overnight in ecolodges.
- Day 9: Head to Playa Ventana beach and Dominical.
- Day 10: Visit El Silencio (community with own monetary system), head to Rafiki lodge, 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 every 1 to 2 days.
*Note: Itinerary is subject to change*
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 the Bribri indigenous community.
Program fees (which include airfare) are expected to be $2199. This includes all transportation, housing, activities, excursions, and most meals. 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 (including Honors)
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