Environmental Conservation and Service in Costa Rica


Image of Costa Rica
Address pressing global environmental conservation issues in partnership with local Costa Rican conservation agencies.
Location: Montezuma, Costa Rica
Language of Instruction: English
Term: Summer
Academic Disciplines: -Open to All Majors
Program Type: Faculty-led

Costa Rica is known for its natural beauty, extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna, social and political stability, high educational levels, and efficient infrastructure and services. San José, Costa Rica’s capital, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city. It lies in the Central Valley on a plain surrounded by large forested mountain ranges, some of which include active volcanoes, green savannahs, and working coffee plantations.

Montezuma, the site of the ASVO Field Station at which participants will volunteer, is located on the southern-most coast of the Nicoya Peninsula.  A small community with a bohemian feel, Montezuma is known throughout Costa Rica for its stunning natural beaches, waterfalls and lagoons, and the thick, forested jungles which surround the town.

The Environmental Conservation in Costa Rica: An International Service Learning Experience course is designed for students interested in exploring international collaborative efforts for environmental conservation through hands-on, service-based learning experiences. This course will provide students with an overview of issues in international service learning for environmental conservation, sustainable development in the context of ecotourism, international partnership building, and systems thinking to tackle global issues through local action.

This course and the two-week overseas program offers students the opportunity to actively address pressing global conservation concerns, such as sea turtle population protections and ecotourism, through collaboration with a local Costa Rican conservation agency. Students will participate in an integrative service learning experience with the Costa Rican Volunteer Association for Service in Protected Areas (ASVO) in Montezuma, Costa Rica on the Nicoya Peninsula of the Pacific coast.

All participants will enroll in UNIV 492 Service Learning for 3 credits.

This course will have pre-trip and post-trip online course components as well as in-country educational experiences, lectures, and service learning fieldwork. The course will have online weekly assignments beginning in mid-March. The first half of the course will focus on cross-cultural learning, partnership building, collaborative conservation, and international issues in sustainable development and ecotourism. While in Costa Rica, students will explore connections to the themes above through experience and service learning. Site visits include San Jose, Monteverde Cloud Forest, and the sea turtle conservation project will take place at the Conservation Station and Sea Turtle Research and Ecosystems in Playa Montezuma, Costa Rica on the Pacific coast. Students will develop projects in areas such as reforestation, cleaning of solid waste into green areas, causes of river and coastline decline, conservation and protection of sea turtles, and environmental education and community improvement in Montezuma. As part of a major project on the statistics of birth and arrivals of sea turtles, students will participate in environmental education in cooperation with the local School of Montezuma.

All students will be housed in double or triple occupancy rooms at Costa Rican hotels.  Breakfast is provided daily at all locations and many lunches and dinners are also provided.

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.

Open to undergraduate students from the University of Kansas. A minimum 2.5 GPA is required, but exceptions will be considered upon submission of a petition. 

Emily Eddins Rountree, PhD, is the Associate Director for the Center for Service Learning at KU. She came to KU from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where she was charged with creating and developing ODU’s service-learning initiative as the first service-learning professional at the institution.  Dr. Rountree received her PhD and MS in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources from Colorado State University. With a fellowship from the Center for Collaborative Conservation, she completed her research on international service-learning in rural Panama. She chooses to work in service-learning because of its complexity, global-local significance, and the belief that collaborative processes between universities and surrounding communities can enact real social and environmental change.

Emily Eddins Rountree, PhD.
Associate Director
Center for Service Learning
150 Strong Hall
Ph: 785-864-6676