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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Designed for American students, this program at the Instituto San Joaquín de Flores offers student unparalleled insight into the biodiversity of Costa Rica and the country’s efforts to promote sustainability. Students will experience firsthand the beauty of Costa Rica’s flora and fauna while interacting with “ticos” (as Costa Ricans refer to themselves) within their host families, during a 4-week internship placement, and while enjoying cultural activities.
*Please note that the Spring Semester session will not be offered in 2021.
API students in the Sustainability and Environmental Studies program participate in extensive academic field trips and excursions designed to expose them to as much of Costa Rica’s biodiversity as possible. The following is a listing of potential excursions for this API San Joaquin de Flores program. API may need to modify the excursions offered in a given term due to travel restrictions or health and safety concerns.
Students will explore a variety of sites in the Central Valley as well as the Pacific Coastal region prior to starting courses. Cartago, one of the sites to be visited, as Costa Rica’s first capital until 1823 and is home to Costa Rica’s patron saint, Our Lady of the Angels “Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles” or “La Negrita.” Students visit the most important sites in the city, as well as the Orosi Valley, founded by the Franciscan monks in 1561. It is home to the country’s oldest church still in continuous use, built in 1735.
Students will participate in 6-day trips to visit volcanoes, grasslands, high forests, mangroves, and an indigenous reserve. Possible sites to be visited include: Paso de Las Lapas, Finca de Rodeo, Volcan Poás, Sarapiquí, and Cerro de la Muerte.
Students will participate in 3 overnight trips to 3 distinct types of rainforest. Possible national parks to be visited include: Parque Marino Puntarenas, Parque Nacional Tortuguero, and Parque Nacional Los Quetzales-Monteverde.
The archipelago of Bocas del Toro offers white-sand beaches, lagoons, and incredible opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, diving and sunbathing. It is also an area rich in wildlife. Students may visit the Bastimentos Island National Marine Park, featuring incredible coral reefs and marine life, and a nearby bird sanctuary with a variety of local and migratory species. Four species of endangered sea turtles still visit the waters of Bocas and the turtles come ashore in great numbers during certain seasons.
During this international trip, students will absorb the Nicaraguan culture by trying the typical foods and interacting with the locals. Students will also learn about the local history by visiting Granada city and islands – Masaya and San Juan del Sur.
Internationally recognized for its outstanding collections of epiphytes (air plants), the Jardín Botánico Lankester was established in 1973 as a center for the display, education, conservation and research of tropical plants. Almost 3,000 species of plants live in its 27 acres of gardens.
Students will spend one night in the historic capital of San José and will visit local attractions such as the Museo Nacional, the Museo de Oro Precolombino, and the Museo de Jade.
Cartago was Costa Rica’s first capital until 1823 and is home to Costa Rica’s patron saint, Our Lady of the Angels “Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles” or “La Negrita.” Students visit the most important sites in the city, as well as the Orosi Valley, founded by the Franciscan monks in 1561. It is home to the country’s oldest church still in continuous use, built in 1735.
Arenal Volcano National Park is located in central Costa Rica. The park is surrounded by rainforests and cloud forests with waterfalls and hot springs (heated by the volcano) nearby.
TOTAL CREDITS - 12-14 semester credits (including internship credit)
Intensive Travel Period
Students will spend the first two weeks of the program (prior to beginning formal classes at the Instituto) traveling to a variety of sites within Costa Rica’s central valley and exploring one of Costa Rica’s renowned national parks and beaches.
Once the academic session begins, students will continue to explore the biodiversity of Costa Rica and complement classroom discussions by participating in three-weekend excursions throughout the country and six day trips.
The program culminates with the completion of a 4-week internship, upon which students receive a certificate that can be presented to their home university for credit evaluation. Students can choose to focus on one of the following themes:
Most students will not stay in SJDF during the internship period, but will most likely be working and staying in national parks or other natural areas.
API students receive a transcript of their coursework from U.S. – accredited Fairfield University upon completion of the program. The Instituto San Joaquín de Flores will issue students a certificate of their internship hours.
Hometown: Dripping Springs, Texas
Study Abroad (or International) Experience: I had the opportunity to study abroad in summer 2008 in Europe. I was part of a faculty-led program that studied the European Union in France, Germany and Belgium; then I studied French language in Grenoble, France, and finally backpacked around western Europe doing thesis research. I also went abroad there times as a high school student as part of an educational tour program touring France, Spain and Italy.
Education: BA in International Studies from Texas A&M University & M.Ed in Higher Education Administration from the University of Texas at Austin
Where is your most favorite travel destination that you’ve been to, and what about that spot impacted your life and your direction?
I have had the opportunity to travel to many exciting countries, such as China, Mexico, Germany, France, Spain, Australia, and several others. In all of my travels, my favorite destinations tend to stand out, not because of the location, but the feeling that I get from being there. Whether traveling alone, with friends or family, each destination lives forever with me, impacting my life and decisions in ways that it could take years to figure out. For example, one favorite destination is Paris, which I have have the opportunity to visit many times for work and pleasure. Now, when I travel there, it is not to see every tourist attraction, but to just be and exist in that time and place. Paris is where I realized that I loved travel, and getting lost to explore new places. It has led me to a life in international education, where I hope to help others have that same experience; to be able to live in the moment, but also help shape their future in ways that they cannot yet imagine.
Esteban Lopez will be your Resident Director in San Joaquin de Flores and a resource for you on-site.
Students will complete coursework with a cohort of other U.S. students at the Instituto San Joaquín de Flores. All students will take either an intermediate or an advanced-level “Spanish for Environmental Studies” course. The language course will be paired with three additional courses taught in English, each equivalent to 3 U.S. semester credits.
The Instituto San Joaquín de Flores operates on the contact hour system; the number of credits earned depends on the time spent in class with a professor. To determine the conversion of Costa Rican contact hours to U.S. credits, divide the contact hours per course by 15. Almost all courses at the Instituto are the equivalent of 3 U.S. semester credits.
En este curso se profundiza sobre aspectos gramaticales del español. Se aprende y utiliza vocabulario más específico, y se efectúan lecturas para mejorar la comprensión de lectura y la conversación en español.
Asimismo, la clase tendrá un énfasis particular en aspectos relacionados con el medioambiente y la sostenibilidad, con el objeto de brindar apoyo al resto de las clases del Programa. Por consiguiente, el eje transversal de esta clase será el medioambiente, por lo que, en cada sesión, se tocarán puntos relacionados con la naturaleza, la sostenibilidad, la biodiversidad, el manejo de recursos naturales, el calentamiento global, etc.
Recommended US semester credits: 3
Este curso pretende introducir al estudiante en aspectos elementales de la gramática del español. Se estudian aspectos del modo indicativo del español. Se estudia vocabulario elemental y se hacen lecturas de textos elementales para acrecentar el vocabulario, mejorar la comprensión de lectura y la conversación.
For such a small country, Costa Rica accounts for about 5% of the planet’s biodiversity. This biological wealth has turned the country into an attraction for the scientific research of ecosystems and foreign tourism. However, the socio-environmental reality of the country is complex and cannot be reduced to the image of a “green country where nature is sacred and protected” that has been marketed internationally. Even though Costa Rican society has an important environmental awareness, there are also conflicts generated as a result of the tensions, conflicts and negotiations produced between different sectors in regard to the use and management of resources.
This course explores the environmental reality of Costa Rica from a comprehensive and critical perspective, focusing on its human and social component.
The objective of this course is to offer students the necessary knowledge and theoretical-methodological tools to understand and learn about conservation and the importance of a balanced development between natural processes and socio-economic activities linked to ecotourism.
The current background of conservation areas and ecotourism practices in Costa Rica will be studied, along with ecological aspects, biological diversity, life zones, endemism and other important aspects that define our national territory.
It is worth mentioning that the subject of biodiversity will be studied making emphasis on the protection, conservation and restoration of natural resources in our country.
This course intends to provide students with basic knowledge about marine ecosystems and their most representative organisms, general biotic and abiotic interrelations, some biological and systematic aspects, and spatial distribution patterns. Students will have a comprehensive vision of marine organisms, their surroundings, the dynamics of marine environment and the implications for human development. Theoretical lessons will be complemented with field trips as a practical resource.
This course will provide students with the basis to understand the ecological processes that take part inside an ecosystem. The objective of this course is to offer students the necessary knowledge and theoretical-methodological tools to understand and learn about ecology and conservation, and the importance of a balanced development between natural processes and socio-economic activities. In order to accomplish this, students will be reviewing the main ecological theories that explain the distribution and abundance of organisms in function of associated factors (abiotic resources, environmental conditions and the interactions between species as competition and predation); along with the background of conservation areas system established in Costa Rica, it’s biological diversity, life zones, endemism and other important aspects that define our national territory.
The intervention of human beings will be studied in different subjects, considering how this is altering the dynamics of populations and natural ecosystems and even human survival. It is worth mentioning that the subject of biodiversity will be studied making emphasis on the protection, conservation and restoration of natural resources in Costa Rica.
Students in San Joaquín de Flores live with local host families. Host families serve as a unique introduction into Costa Rican culture and may be made up of a married couple with children, a divorced or widowed woman with children still at home, or a family with some members living at home and others living outside of the city during the work week. As API places one student per family, all students have a private bedroom. Students are provided with 2-3 meals per day, as well as laundry service once per week.