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Plan II Costa Rica Course: Land Use Issues in Rain Forest Conservation. Plan now to join the adventure in 2011.

Thu, June 3, 2010

Plan II Honors (and the UT Study Abroad Office) will offer this Costa Rica experience again in 2011 and 2013.

NOVEMBER 1, 2010 deadline for application for the Summer of 2011

The 2010 Costa Rica Maymester Course maintained a blog with students contributing posts about their experiences in Costa Rica.


Exploring land use in Costa Rica is a study of the 'other side' of conservation. Many conservation studies involve the biology of an ecologically important region, but this course is dedicated to examining the other aspects of conservation-- the more 'real world' considerations. These include socio-economic, political, and scientific factors.

Students in the Plan II Program and the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Texas studied the wide range of issues that Costa Rica faces in its efforts towards sustainable conservation.

The course has three components: preparatory lectures during spring semester; and in June, a survey of habitat diversity across Costa Rica; followed by group projects and presentations.

The course is designed to expose students to many of the concerns that must be addressed when establishing public policy regarding conservation and sustainable land use, both locally and at a national scale, in a country renown for its biodiversity and its extensive system of public and private reserves. Students in diverse disciplines (including business, political science, economics, anthropology, sociology, environmental science) will find a direct application of their interests in this course. This experience could also lay the ground work for subsequent in-depth study abroad and for honors theses.

During the course, students gained a real-world understanding of ecological research, agricultural and ecotourism development, and the complexity of conservation issues in a field setting. The range of topics covered include: sustaining tropical ecosystems and agricultural systems, economics of tourism and land usage for renewable resources and conservation, societal implications of cross-cultural “ownership” of world heritage lands, and commercial applications of natural resources.

Why Costa Rica?: Costa Rica is known worldwide for its conservation efforts with more than 25% of its land under protection, thus safeguarding more than 5% of the entire world's biodiversity in an area about the size of West Virginia. This phenomenon has attracted millions of tourists to Costa Rica's parks and reserves, and tourism can strain the park system and the neighboring human communities. Agricultural practices are changing as Costa Ricans, on small farms as well as national and multi-national corporations, work to achieve economic growth and sustainable practices The overall socio-political issue is to find tenable land use plans that maintain the goals of conservation and sustainability. Costa Rica is a unique setting for biological field studies. The country has a long history of support for visiting scholars and students and for development of local scientists and agricultural experts. Costa Rica is a model for collaboration between governmental and private programs in conservation. As students will see, in this small country there is a unique juxtaposition of remote wilderness and developed areas, complete with the infrastructure for their instruction, transportation, services and safety.

See the course web site.

Plan II Honors (and the UT Study Abroad Office) will offer this Costa Rica experience again in 2011 and 2013.

NOVEMBER 1, 2010 deadline for application for the Summer of 2011

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    University of Texas at Austin
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    CLA 2.102
    Austin, Texas, 78712-1250