Semester Abroad

For more than a decade and during the Summer, Las Nubes Project has offered a field course on Tropical Conservation and Sustainability in Costa Rica. The success of this course led to the creation of the Semester Abroad, which will take place during the months of May and June 2017.

The 2017 Semester Abroad will offer six courses for undergraduate and graduate students, which will be held at our new EcoCampus (located in front of Las Nubes Biological Reserve) and numerous other locations in the Southern Costa Rica.

Important Dates:

  • April 3, 2017: Final Mandatory Meeting, 1-3 PM, HNES 140. Risk assessment forms, York International’s mobility award (YIMA) form AND, Full course fee must be paid at the meeting. Payments are payable to York University by money order or certified cheque.
  • Orientation Sessions
    • April 26, 2017:
      1-4 pm, HNES 142, ENVS 4810B Environmental Arts and Food Sovereignty
    • May 1, 2017: 
      1-4 pm, HNES 141, ENVS 4120 Natural History: Political Ecology Encounters Env. Education
    • May 2, 2017:
      10am-1pm, HNES 109, ENVS 4446: Protected Area Management
      1:30 – 4:30 pm, HNES 141, ENVS 4800A: Advanced Topics in Environment and Health
  • May 1-5, 2017: York University tuition fees (not the same as the course fee) must be paid before the end of the week.

Below is the list of courses and the exact dates they will run:

Environmental Arts and Food Sovereignty in Costa Rica | ENVS 4810B 3.00

Instructor: Deborah Barndt
Dates: May 10 - May 21, 2017

This community-engaged workshop offers students the opportunity to experience environmental arts that are integral to struggles for food sovereignty in Costa Rica. It will move through three phases in three sites: exploring environmental arts principles and practices at the Las Nubes Eco Campus, collaborating with renowned singer/artist/healer Guadalupe Urbina on a youth arts project in a permaculture garden in Longo Mai community and producing mobile murals proclaiming small farmers’ rights with environmental artist Raquel Bolaños in San Isidro El General. The workshop will culminate with participation in the annual Alexander Skutch Arts Festival.

Conservation and Development for Social-Environmental Sustainability and Wellbeing: Case Studies in Costa Rica | ENVS 4810A 3.00

Instructor: Felipe Montoya
Dates: May 19-22, 26-29 & June 2-3, 2017

In the current times, characterized by innumerable social-environmental crises, it is necessary to explore initiatives that contribute elements to possible solutions. Costa Rica has been considered an international beacon of “Sustainable Development,” partly because of a number of arguably successful social and environmental initiatives. In this course we will engage directly with a diversity of initiatives in Costa Rica at different scales (State, Indigenous Territory, Rural Community, Family Farm, Co-operative, NGO, Grassroots Organization, Local Business, among others) that attempt to bring together elements of environmental conservation and social-economic development in order to achieve improved wellbeing and sustainability. These cases will provide material for discussion and analysis through diverse epistemological lenses, to provide students with a more informed, critical and inspired theoretical approach and praxis to urgent social-environmental issues.

Globalization and Indigenous Peoples | ENVS 4215 3.00

Instructor: Ravi de Costa
Dates: May 23-30, 2017

Indigenous peoples are distinct communities who have experienced the processes of globalization in particular ways. Focusing on the experience of Indigenous peoples in Costa Rica, the course examines the global historical processes of imperialism and colonialism and their legacies of racism, assimilation and marginalization. The course then examines Indigenous peoples' resistance to globalization and engagement with global networks, movements and institutions, in order to protect their cultures and assert their rights. We will think about these issues in context, by living with and learning from several Indigenous communities in the south of Costa Rica.

Natural History: Political Ecology Encounters Environmental Education in Costa Rica | ENVS 4120 3.0

Instructor: Leesa Fawcett
Dates: May 31-June 9

Experiencing, appreciating and recognizing the biodiversity of the tropical forests in the Las Nubes area, while considering the political ecology of the region is the intention of this course. By studying the beliefs, theories and practices of naturalists (e.g. Darwin, Alexander Skutch and contemporary Costa Rican scholars), we will critically interpret differing historical narratives and images of nature. In the field, with close observation, students will describe and document the lives of mammals, amphibians, birds, plants, and insects in the Las Nubes area, the greater corridor, and its watershed. The over-arching course goal is to continue to build place-based eco-social knowledge and to translate that learning into critical environmental education initiatives and citizen science for the surrounding, interdependent human and more-than human communities.

Advanced Topics in Environment and Health (Ecosystem Approaches in the Field) | ENVS 4800A 3.00

Instructor: Martin Bunch
Dates: June 8-17, 2017

This course is an introduction to the ecosystem approach to health and well-being (ecohealth); an applied approach based on principles of systems thinking, transdisciplinarity, participation, gender and social equity, knowledge-to-action, and sustainability.  The course will be a 10-day intensive course at York University’s Eco Campus in Costa Rica.  In order to provide participants with a more concrete experience of ecosystem approaches to health, the course has been designed around the themes of EcoHealth and Watersheds and EcoHealth and Food. Both of these will focus on the case study of “linking health, environment and community” in the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor.

Protected Area Management in Costa Rica | ENVS 4446 3.00

Instructor: Sheila Colla
Dates: June 15-24, 2017

This course will investigate the ecological, cultural and social components involved in protecting habitats to maintain biodiversity. Based at Las Nubes Eco Campus, case studies, readings and field trips will explore various governance issues including conflict, stakeholder interests and collaborations.  Measures of successful conservation management will be discussed, including the use of biodiversity indicators. Students will be involved in the design and data collection of local protected area biodiversity monitoring schemes for a variety of taxa through group projects. Some prior knowledge of ecology is expected. Note: Students who are enrolled in ENVS 4446 3.0 Section B going out to Costa Rica are required to attend the lectures for ENVS 4446 3.0A offered at York prior to departure

Please note the following:

  • All courses are open to upper-year undergraduates and graduates, including non-FES students.
  • Course fees includes all in-country transportation, room and board, and park entrance fees that are part of course programs. Accommodations includes a mix of homestays and hotels. More information on course costs can be found here
  • Some overlaps between courses are scheduled to enable shared field trips and activities.
  • BES Areas of Concentration for each one of the courses are available here
  • The courses offered are of interest to students from a wide range of disciplines including (and not limited to) environmental studies, international studies, health, education, biology, sociology, business, sociology, political science, psychology, design and engineering.
  • Visa information: Refer to the Embassy of Costa Rica in Canada's website.
  • Non-York Students must follow the Admission and Application Procedures for Visiting Students

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