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Offerings: 2nd Summer Session 2024
Course Fee &

Systems Change for Health & Sustainability
Costa Rica
Field Component: 6 - 19 July, 2024

This course is offered in conjunction with our partner:
Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Department,
University of Washington (U.S.A.)



A typical field site meeting. This one is at an ecolodge where we will stay, learn first-hand
about organic agriculture, and do
various field activities.



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During our time in Costa Rica the focus will be on local sustainability efforts and associated global-local connections. The course includes lectures, discussion, group activities, volunteer service-learning work, and associated field trips to sustainable businesses, organic farms, private reserves and/or community ecotourism projects. No prerequisite is required, but successful completion of an introductory Environmental & Occupational Health Science, Envirornmental Health, Environmental Studies or related course is highly recommended. Applicant selection will consist of evaluation of both academic requirements and personal qualities necessary for the success and safety of the program as indicated on the Admission page. Students who successfully complete this course will receive 3 units of undergraduate academic credit as
ENV H 497 Environmental Health Special Elective: 'Systems Change for Health & Sustainability' from the University of Washington.


Sample service-learning work: Planting pineapples at a local farm in Costa Rica's
Northern Zone.

Top of page Itinerary
This course will be based in the town of San Ramón, and at the Rancho Mastatal Sustainability Education Center. In addition to numerous local daily outings to nearby sites in those regions, the course will include two nights at a family run eco-lodge in the Northern Zone. Academics will include hands-on educational activities, group discussions, hikes, volunteer service-learning, lectures from local experts and extensive field study. Possible site visits include local university facilities, organic farms, sustainable businesses, a community ecotourism project and a hot springs visit. Field activities typically include interpretative tropical forest hikes, field activities and farm work. Please note that participants much be prepared for working and hiking in tropical (hot) environments, and have required field study items with them at all times. Housing will consist of multiple-occupancy mid-range ecolodges and hotels as well as rural dorms and huts (at Rancho Mastatal). Participants will also have a limited amount of personal time, both in the city and rural areas. The course will be facilitated by University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences faculty, Earth Education International staff, and the community of Rancho Mastatal. Selected photos from similar courses are available in the MediaBlog, and a sample itinerary is also available (final version available upon arrival).

Top of page Participant Preparations
This section is provided to assist in preparing participants for this course. Properly preparing yourself will allow you to get the most out of the experience, and allow us to facilitate a safe and enjoyable learning experience for all. Thus, please review the following information and appropriate links to other sections of this web site:

1. General Information
A wealth of information is available on this web site in order to assist you in preparing. The table of contents for this information is on the Participants page. In particular, the In-Country Information page includes information on what things cost in Costa Rica, local foods, banking, shopping, relevant Spanish vocabulary, and the like. Links to additional information about the country are also provided for your convenience. We strongly suggest that you peruse that information as appropriate to acquaint yourself with conditions on the program, and in Costa Rica, well before departure. This will allow you to get the most out of your time here.

2. What to Bring
Detailed general information on what to bring on your trip can be found in the Packing section of the 'Preparation' page. There you will find lists of appropriate items to bring, as well as recommendations for packing & traveling. PLEASE PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO SECTION B AND C: Required Field Study & Health Protocol Items (covid-19 related). For both logistical and safety reasons each participant will be expected to have those required items with them upon arrival. When packing clothes, please note that it is NOT necessary to bring enough for your entire stay. Participants will be able to wash clothes once or twice during the course (at their own cost). In addition to general items, please note that enclosed shoes will be required for certain field visits and hikes (tennis shoes OK-open shoes, sandals or flip flops are NOT).

IMPORTANT PACKING NOTE: It is highly recommended that you bring a small backpack which you can have on-hand during the day while traveling in the bus. A second bag (which may be in a roof rack or otherwise inaccessible during the day) should be packed with items you will NOT need until that evening after checking into the hotel.

3. Program Policies
Please review the program Policies and Health Protocols sections in detail. You will be held accountable to those policies during your visit, and required to sign a Participation Agreement form agreeing to abide by them.

4. Arrival in Costa Rica
Upon arrival at the San José (SJO) airport, it is recommended to change about $30 (~20,000 colones) (to at least cover day 1 lunch & dinner) if traveling with cash. If using an ATM to get local currency, one is available in the baggage claim area. Because the exit from the airport can be hectic at times, it can be difficult to find each other upon arrival. Thus, when you exit from the terminal, turn immediately to your RIGHT, and walk down the sidewalk past the pay phones, benches, and glass doors to the 'Deli Malinche'. We will meet you there. To assist with identification, see Dr. Karian's picture here. In case of any problems, difficulties or delays, we can be reached on our cell phone at 8812-7766 (preceded by 011-506 from the U.S.A.). If necessary, this can be dialed from a courtesy phone at one of the rental car agencies inside the airport PRIOR to exiting. NOTE: You cannot re-enter the airport once you have exited for any reason.

Top of page Course Fee & Application
This field component in Costa Rica comprises the second part of the Summer session course of the same name. The program fee (paid to the University of Washington) includes most expenses associated with the Costa Rica portion of this course, including in-country transportation and lodging, entrance fees, some meals (1+ meals per day), and logistical & emergency support. NOT INLCUDED in the fee is international airfare, course materials, some meals, or any personal expenses. Opportinities are available to partially offset course costs through scholarships, financial aid, student loans or fundraising. For more information, see costs.

Additional information on University of Washington logistics related to this field course is available by contacting the on-campus professor in charge of the course. Click here for contact information. If you would like additional information related to in-country aspects of this course, you may contact us directly.

.Summer 1 Top of Page Admission.

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