Study Abroad in Costa Rica this Spring Break!


Manuel Antonio National Park, one of the sites SUST 390 will visit. Photo from Axxis10, Wikipedia

New to Roosevelt in Spring semester 2017 is a study abroad course focusing on ecotourism in Costa Rica. SUST/HOSM 390 provides students with an in-depth understanding of ecotourism in Costa Rica, one of the pioneering countries in the world of sustainable tourism. Ecotourism is an industry focused on providing travel experiences that support, rather than detract from, conservation efforts. Costa Rica possesses incredibly rich biodiversity (Sloths!), sensitive forest, and marine ecosystems; and national parks make up about 20% of the nation’s territory! Tourist dollars contribute to a significant portion of the national economy, and the industry is geared towards an ethos of ‘do no harm.’

Students will learn about the unique historical context which gave rise to Costa Rica’s conservation policies and will be able to articulate what ‘best practices’ in ecotourism are. Students will also gain an understanding of the socio-economic and political dynamics associated with implementing ecotourism – does ecotourism improve livelihoods for Costa Ricans as well as conserve precious resources and serve tourists? Ecotourism will be differentiated from traditional tourism and students will be asked to draw their own conclusions about ecotourism’s merits and disadvantages.

Course Requirements and Details

SUST 390 is cross-listed with HOSM 390 in the Hospitality and Tourism Management program in the College of Professional Studies, so the course fills both major and minor requirements for students in Sustainability Studies and HOSM. However, the course is open to all majors as a general elective. Students in business, history, economics, political science, sociology, and a host of other majors will find something of interest with SUST/HOSM 390. And besides, who doesn’t want to go to escape cold Chicago and spend Spring Break in Costa Rica!

Sloths - like really chill monkeys

Sloths – like really chill monkeys

This 3-credit course meets five times in Chicago in addition to the week spent in Costa Rica (March 3-10). Four of the meetings are before the trip and one is a post-trip wrap-up meeting. Pre- and post- trip meetings are for 2.5 hours each and will be on Tuesday afternoons from 2-4:30pm (dates: 1/31, 2/7, 2/14, 2/21, and 3/21). Course assignments include reading, writing papers, and doing some basic research while in Costa Rica. During our time in Costa Rica, our ‘classroom’ will be outdoors! The course will be taught in English.

Check out some of the places we will visit:

Hot springs at Arenal Volcano

Hot springs at Arenal Volcano


The estimated cost of the course is $3800, which includes airfare, accommodations, breakfast everyday, two dinners, health insurance, and all required activities. If we are able to enroll at least 15 students, the costs will come down to about $3400. Tuition at Roosevelt is a flat-rate, so if you are a full-time student taking between 12-18 credit hour then there is no additional tuition cost for SUST 390. The program costs will be paid over three installments rather than all at once. Interested students must be enrolled in the course and have paid an initial deposit of 1/3 of the program costs by November 15th!


Graham Pickren (that’s me) is the primary instructor for the course. I’m an Assistant Professor of Sustainability Studies here at RU. We will also be joined by Carmen Kordick, Assistant Professor of History. Dr. Kordick is a native Costa Rican and a historian of the country, so she will be an invaluable resource for our travels!

For more information, please email me at gpickren[at symbol]roosevelt[dot]edu

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