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Earth Education International
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Top of page Description
Earth Education International (EEI) is an experiential learning organization in Costa Rica providing interdisciplinary course and program offerings related to sustainability, environmental studies and social responsibility. We work in partnership with educational institutions globally, and support sustainable initiatives locally.

Top of page Mission
To empower individuals and communities to take action in their personal and collective lives in helping to contribute to a sustainable, equitable, and peaceful future. To that end, we provide high-quality personalized hands-on learning through extensive field study, volunteer service-learning work, and cultural immersion. Offerings include a a semester abroad program and a variety of courses in themes related to 'Sustainable Global Stewardship'. All offerings are open to participants worldwide, and undergraduate and graduate academic credit is available.

Top of page Goals
The following Sustainable Global Stewardship goals facilitate EEI's mission:
1. Provide interdisciplinary international experiences that encourage self-confidence, personal growth, individual responsibility, and a sense of identity as a member of the global community.
2. Promote international and multi-cultural understanding, and improve individuals' ability to function effectively in another environment, culture, and language.
3. Facilitate an increased appreciation of human and ecological diversity, local-global connections, and personal motivations to implement sustainable living practices.
4. Provide outreach and networking among individuals, communities, and organizations involved in sustainability efforts and transformative sustainability learning.
Through achieving these goals, EEI seeks to improve local, regional, and global environmental quality and social-equity through supporting and empowering positive personal and collective change.

Top of page Sustainability
Beyond teaching the ideas and principals of sustainability, we believe that it is important that programs also represent, in themselves, models in action. Thus, we lead by example through community integration and by supporting local environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible initiatives whenever possible. One such example is our 'Carbon & Community' program. We are also guided by the principal that 'small is beautiful' in building local economies. Other than our own office, all support facilities are provided by the local community: Classroom space, housing, copy center, and cafeteria. All are within a few blocks of one another, and our office, so as to be pedestrian-friendly for all day-to-day activities. For a complete list of EEI's sustainability efforts, see our Sustainability Assessment Inventory (Word document). General sustainable living resources are available here.

Top of page Logo
The EEI logo is a compilation of various symbols which represent our vision for a sustainable future. The holistic and international nature of our work is symbolized by the outer circle, which also represents planet Earth at its average 23.5 degree axial tilt (as identified by the equatorial center line). The converging contours at the lower left represent the seven continents/seas which symbolically unite and move forward (East) to a higher level as one, the number one being represented by the only true angle of the logo in the upper right. The number of contours (seven) is also regarded as a spiritual number, representing the inner-self of each of us (preceded by the cardinal directions of East, South, West, and North; as well as up and down). In addition, seven is regarded as the number of generations that we must look ahead in considering the consequences of our actions. The direction of East, to which the arrow points, is the direction of new beginnings, characterized by the rising sun of each new day. Also included is the symbol for ecology, angled to the left (a circle with a horizontal line), as well as signs of peace (angled to the right). These images are in perfect equilibrium in the logo, illustrating the importance of inner and outer balance in life in general, and between nature and human society in particular.

Top of page Staff
Earth Education International is a relatively small, personalized organization. It is administered primarily by the Director with assistance from other professionals and office staff as needed. Our work is also supported by a network of organizations that provide logistical support at both the international and local levels. Principal staff include the following:


Dr. Miguel Karian

  Dr. Miguel Karian


Miguel Karian D., EdD; Founding Director & Social Sustainability Faculty
Dr. Karian has been leading experiential education abroad programs in Costa Rica, and elsewhere in Central America and the Caribbean, since 1996. Institutions he has worked with in designing and offering short courses and semester programs, as well as teaching within those programs, include Semester at Sea (CO), the University of Redlands (CA), North Carolina State University (NC), SUNY-Fredonia (NY) and George Mason University (VA). In addition to founding and directing Earth Education International, he is faculty in the College of Extended Education and Global Engagement and Environmental Science & Management Department at Cal Poly Humboldt (CA). He has also been a Visiting Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Redlands (CA) and a Tenured Associate Professor in the Environmental & Technological Studies Department at St. Cloud State University (MN). At the latter institution he founded, directed and taught in the Environmental Field Studies and Spanish/Latin American Studies Program in Costa Rica. Dr. Karian holds a Doctorate of Education in Technology, Environmental Education and Sociology from Arizona State University (AZ). His research and professional activities focus on transformative learning generally, and education for social and environmental responsibility in particular. Miguel is a cross-cultural multinational 'global nomad'* of primarily Armenian decent who has lived in Thailand, Nigeria, Kenya, Jordan, Mexico, Costa Rica, and the United States. He speaks English, Spanish and varying degrees of other languages. His passions include social change, travel, multiculturalism, voluntary simplicity and nature immersion.

*A 'global nomad,' or 'Cross-Culture Kid (CCK)/Third Culture Kid (TCK) ' is someone who has spent their formative years
in more than one culture, and thus has an international/multicultural sense of belonging.

  Dr Carlos Rojas

Dr. Carlos Rojas Alvarado


Carlos Rojas Alvarado, PhD; Environmental Sustainability Faculty
Dr. Rojas holds a Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in Evolutionary Biology, and Licentiate and Bachelor's degrees in Biology from the University of Costa Rica.  He is a researcher and Coordinator of the Forest Resources Research Unit of the Engineering Research Institute at the University of Costa Rica, and teaches in the Biosystems Engineering Department.  Dr. Rojas's specialties include tropical forest dynamics, soil biota, and the utilization of microscopic organisms for ecosystem restoration.  In particular, he has conducted research on the ecology of myxomycetes, fungi (including lichens), and Neotropical forest dynamics.  He has also taught Tropical Ecology and Conservation, Costa Rican culture, and Natural Resource Management to foreign students studying in Costa Rica with various other study abroad programs, as well as taught and worked as a Research Assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Arkansas and the University of Costa Rica.  Carlos has lived in Costa Rica and the United States and speaks Spanish and English fluently.  His interests include archeological tourism, cooking and sports.


Mrs. Mayra Herra

Mrs. Mayra Herra

Mayra Herra, MA; Costa Rica Culture Faculty
Mrs. Herra holds a Masters degree in Linguistics from the University of Costa Rica, as well as Licensure and Bachelor Degrees in Spanish Philology. She is also in the process of completing her Doctorate in Society and Culture Studies at the University of Costa Rica. Mrs. Herra has more than 2o year's experience coordinating and teaching in study abroad programs in Costa Rica, and is a retired administrator and professor of Spanish, Latin American Literature, and Communications from the University of Costa Rica. When not teaching for Earth Education International she continues to coordinate and teach in other study abroad programs. Mrs. Herra is Costa Rican, but has also lived in the United States. She speaks Spanish and English fluently.


Mrs. Rita Cardenas


Mrs. Rita Cárdenas Jiménez


Rita Cárdenas Jiménez , MS; Spanish Faculty
Mrs. Cárdenas has been teaching Spanish to foreign students in Costa Rica since 1993. In addition to teaching for EEI, she is the founding Director of a Spanish Language institute: ECAE (Entre Culturas Aprenda Español). She holds a Master's degree in Educational Psychology from the Latin University and a Bachelor's degree in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language from the Interamerican University of Costa Rica. She has also taught Spanish for the Costa Rican Language & Cultural Institute, Long Island University, Costa Rica Spanish Institute, and the University of Washington. Rita is Costa Rican, speaks Spanish and intermediate English, and loves to travel & have new cultural experiences. Rita also enjoys reading, swimming, conversing, watching movies, and going for walks.


Mrs. Patricia Ramirez

Mrs. Patricia Ramirez


Ana Patricia Ramirez, BS; Homestay Coordinator
Mrs. Ramirez coordinates homestay placements for EEI students and assists with other logistics. Having been raised in San Ramón, she is intimately familiar with the community and families that host our students. She has worked for the University of Costa Rica in San Ramón for 27 years in charge of the Scholarship Office and Information Technology Office, as well as working as Secretary in the Department of Natural Sciences and in the Directors Office. Her tenure at the University includes more than 10 years of experience coordinating homestay placements. Mrs. Ramirez also has first-hand experience, having hosted students in her own home. She holds bachelors degrees in Biology from the University of Costa Rica and Business Administration from Issac Newton University. Her interests include singing with the chorus group 'University Voices,' and she has traveled throughout Costa Rica, as well as to France and Argentina.


Mr. Luis Fernando Montero

Mr. Luis Fernando Montero

Luis Fernando Montero
Araya, BA; Transportation Manager & Participant Support
Mr. Montero was born and raised in San Ramón, and has almost 20 years of commercial driving experience. He inherited his fascination for transportation services from his father, and runs his own local family transportation company that is contracted by EEI. Luis also has 25 years of experience in Music Education, in which he holds a Bachelor's degree, and currently teaches Music at the Joaquin Jose Salas Perez Elementary School. He revels in intercultural and multilingual opportunities, enjoys sharing his extensive information about Costa Rica, and has traveled to Nicaragua and Panama. In addition to managing transportation for EEI, Luis also provides participant support. His primary hobbies are soccer (futbol) and instrumental percussion drumming.

Visiting Faculty, Guest Lecturers & Support Staff
A diverse pool of highly-qualified visiting faculty also complement the EEI staff. These professors either represent partner institutions in other countries, or are contracted locally as appropriate. They teach and/or assist with course offerings in their area of expertise. In addition, guest presentations are often provided by local specialists during field study visits, and other support staff assist with logistical planning as necessary.

Top of page Board of Advisors
EEI operational decisions are supported by a dedicated board of advisors from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds, and include both faculty and alumni representation. Current board members include the following:


Dr. Brack Brown

Dr. Brack Brown

Brack Brown, Ph.D.; Political Science (Faculty)
Dr. Brown is professor emeritus of Government and Politics in the Department of Public & International Affairs at George Mason University (VA), and he holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Syracuse University. His areas of expertise include ethics and conflict resolution in public administration, organizational theory/behavior, and political transformation in Central Europe. Dr. Brown has received grants and published numerous works in his areas of expertise. He has also directed numerous study abroad programs in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and the Czech Republic. In addition to keeping up-to-date on politics, Brack enjoys international travel and photography.


Mrs. Gilda Rosa
Arguedas Cortés


Gilda Rosa Arguedas Cortés, M.L.; Linguistics (Faculty)
Mrs. Arguedas holds a Master's of Letters in Linguistics, and is a past professor and Department Chair in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Costa Rica. In that capacity she also created and coordinated the Spanish for Foreign Students study abroad program. In addition to thirty-five years of experience working with adolescents and young adults from various backgrounds, she has done significant research and published articles and books on variations of the Spanish language and linguistic folklore. Gilda has also taught French, speaks English, and has studied classic and American indigenous languages. Her interests include dance, cinema, and parapsychology.

Megan Curran de Nieto, B.S.; Biological Sciences (Alumni)
Mrs. Curran de Nieto is Director of Community Health Programs for CLEARCorps USA in St. Paul, MN; where she organizes the community around lead poisoning prevention issues and facilitates educational activities and programs. Previously she worked for the Sustainable Resources Center, where she designed and facilitated a mobile lead screening program. Megan has a B.S. in Biological Sciences, and a minor in Spanish. She is bilingual, and has lived for four years in Costa Rica--including as a participant on Dr. Karian's first Costa Rica program in 1996. Her interests include marine conservation, animal welfare, agriculture, gardening, Spanish, cultures, travel, and Costa Rica.

Douglas J. Anderson, B.A.; Environmental Studies (Alumni)
Mr. Anderson has more than 10 years of experience implementing utility energy programs, and is currently a Senior Manager at ICF International headquartered in Fairfax VA, a consulting firm working in energy and climate change, environment and infrastructure, social programs, etc.  He has also worked as a renewable energy and energy efficiency consultant in the utility market, and has significant experience with public outreach and educational initiatives.  He holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies and was a past student of Dr. Karian. Douglas visits Costa Rica whenever possible, and is especially interested in sustainable agriculture, cross country skiing, running and traveling.

Top of page Partnerships
EEI offerings are implemented in cooperation with an international network of academic institutions and organizations that share our goals. If such a partnership may be of interest, please contact us. Current partners include the following:

  Institutional Partners: Accreditation, logistical support, faculty development, etc.
  Humboldt State University, Office of Extended Education Humboldt State University, College of Extended Education & Global Engagement
(California, U.S.A.)
  SUNY Fredonia   State University of New York (SUNY), Fredonia
(New York, U.S.A.)
  University of San Jose, San Ramon Campus   University of San José, San Ramón Campus
(Costa Rica)

Associates & Affiliate Partners: Study tour offerings, inter-institutional promotion, intern placement, etc.
  Oulu University   Oulu University of Applied Sciences
(Oulu, Finland)
  Simon Frasier University   Simon Fraser University, SFU International
(British Columbia, Canada)
  Augsburg College, Center for Global Education Augsburg College, Center for Global Education
(Minnesota, U.S.A.)

  Local Partners: Local logistical cooperation partners.
  University of Costa Rica
  University of Costa Rica, Western Regional Campus
(Costa Rica)
  Cultourica: Intercultural Projects Cultourica: Intercultural Projects
(Costa Rica)
  National Engineering University, Alternative Energy Project  

National Engineering University, Alternative Energy Project

  Foundation for International Living   Foundation for Sustainable Living
(Costa Rica)

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