Honors in Costa Rica

Environmental Sustainability and Natural History

5 credits H A&S 261/H A&S 220 or Interdepartmental 499

This course will allow students the opportunity of an interdisciplinary experience emphasizing ecology and global citizen awareness in the context of an eco-travel experience to the "lungs of the earth" the Costa Rican rainforest. It may also accommodate students designing and implementing a variety of projects that could qualify for BIOL 499 or another discipline's Independent Study).

The course will meet 3-4 times for 2 hours each during the Spring quarter to lay the groundwork for the trip. It will then travel to Costa Rica from August 23rd to September 10th.

Natural History/Ecology Program

  • structured field classes in tropical ecology and global environmental issues
  • readings and class discussions on global environmental issues
  • instruction in wildlife identification and natural history
  • exploratory hikes (nocturnal and diurnal) in a variety of tropical ecosystems
  • excursions to natural sites (waterfalls, hot springs, beaches, lagoons, geologic formations)
  • visits to reserves and national parks
  • habitat restoration and reforestation project with regional high school
  • volunteer experience at conservation project (turtle reserve)
  • tours of sustainable agricultural projects (organic chocolate farm, shade grown coffee)
  • local medicinal plant lecture/rainforest natural remedies
  • sustainable building practices

Cultural Program

  • home stays
  • participation in community activities (soccer games, livestock care)
  • visits to indigenous Indian reserve - possible
  • reforestation, educational and cultural exchange work with La Gloria college
  • service learning projects in the community of Mastatal

Potential Guest Lecturers

  • Community structure and leadership
  • Community justice
  • Ecotourism effects
  • Free trade effects
  • Cooking or dance instruction
  • Costa Rican education tour and/or lecture
  • Travel to Costa Rica August 23
  • 10 nights at Rancho Mastatal environmental learning center (www.ranchomastatal.com)
  • 3 nights at Palo Seco turtle reserve
  • 3 nights at Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • 1 night at Alajuela
  • Return to Seattle September 10

The cost will be $2600/student, which includes all transportation within the country, accommodations, supplies, and excursions.

Note: Students are required to maintain Concurrent Enrollment through the IP&E office for this program, and will have to pay for 5 credits of UW tuition.

Payment Schedule

Financial Aid

Students may use their regular financial aid and scholarship funds for study abroad. The exception is any scholarship in the form of a tuition waiver. Tuition waivers cannot be used to pay study abroad program fees. You may want to check with the Office of Student Financial Aid in Schmitz Hall for more information.

There are funding opportunities through the Global Opportunities Program, and the Office of International Programs and Exchanges also maintains a funding opportunities list.


Transportation while in Costa Rica will be in 22-passenger chartered buses using only bonded and insured drivers.

Travel Insurance

Personal comprehensive travel insurance is recommended by the program for all participants. Generally, UW student insurance will suffice. However, information on other available policies will be supplied upon request. Insurance coverage should include: trip cancellation/interruption, baggage loss, accident and medical evacuation riders.


Students will stay in dormitory style accommodations at nature reserves or in family run lodges.

Program Director: Brenda Bourns, PhD, Honors Faculty, bournsb@seattleu.edu, for information regarding course content.

Contact Julie Villegas (villegas@uw.edu), Associate Director, Honors Program for additional information regarding Honors credit.