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  • Locations: Guanacaste Region, Costa Rica; Los Santos Region, Costa Rica; San Carlos, Costa Rica; San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica; San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Program Terms: Winter
  • Budget Sheets: Winter
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Winter 2020 10/04/2019 ** Rolling Admission 01/03/2020 01/20/2020

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Open to: UB and other SUNY students Language of Instruction: English
Minimum GPA: 2.5 Eligibility: Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors, and Graduate Students
Area of Study: Aerospace Engineering, Any, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Design, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Geosciences, Environmental Studies, Geography, Industrial Engineering, International Studies, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Term: Winter
Program Advisor: Olga Crombie Credits: 3
Program Description:

Sustainability in Latin America: A Case Study in Costa Rica

Costa Rica (Canva)Costa Rica is a small, Central American country with about 5 million residents known by most Americans as a top tourist, honeymoon, and retirement destination. Few know, however, that Costa Rica regularly ranks in the top 5 of the most sustainable countries in the world. Costa Ricans rely on renewable energy (~98% of electricity comes from renewable sources), are attempting to be the first carbon-neutral country, have nearly 30% of their land designated as protected forests, and have a happier population than the US. With close proximity and Spanish language, the venue is ideal for a sustainability-themed winter break study abroad experience. 
Costa Rica 1

CIE 464 is designed to expose students to sustainability issues that are underappreciated or not relevant in the US, including eco-tourism, monoculture (e.g., coffee, bananas, pineapples), renewable energy (e.g., hydroelectric, wind, geothermal), and societal issues (e.g., social healthcare, immigration). Student participants will be tasked with considering the full life-cycle impacts of each component of the trip. Daily group reflections and personal journals will provide the wider context of the experiences and encourage students to approach sustainability with an open mind. The program provides students an opportunity to directly engage with real-world examples of sustainability, simultaneously teaching them to be comfortable in unfamiliar (and potentially uncomfortable!) situations abroad. The program is themed around agriculture, energy, and eco-tourism, topics particularly unique to Costa Rica. Students will participate in regionally specific tours (e.g., coffee farms, hydroelectric facilities, cloud forest research sites), lectures (e.g., from indigenous community leaders, agriculture representatives, government officials), class discussions, outdoor activities (e.g., hiking, bird watching, beaches), assignments, and reflections intended to highlight sustainability in practice. By getting out of the classroom and engaging with science and engineering practitioners (displaying both good and bad examples of sustainability), the trip will foster a deeper understanding of the oft-discussed but rarely understood concept. Students are challenged to engage with the local culture and economy while considering what it truly means to be sustainable.

After completing this course, a student should be able to:
  • Understand differences between monoculture and polyculture, specifically as it relates to large- and small-scale sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Assess and describe the advantages and disadvantages of alternative energy solutions, including wind, solar, and hydro.
  • Understand the roles, positive and negative, of eco-tourism in Costa Rican culture.
  • Translate sustainability lessons learned abroad to their own country and lives.
Please read the Costa Rica Winter 2019 Study Abroad Program Guide for more information and note that this will also be available to students accepted to the program through the online application system. 
Throughout the trip, student participants will reside in shared occupancy hotels, dormitories and homestays.

Estimated costs for this program can be found at the top of this page next to Budget Sheets by clicking on the term.

UB students are encouraged to apply for study abroad scholarships. To learn more about the scholarships available to UB students, please visit our scholarships webpage.

Please contact the Faculty Program Director:

Dr. John Atkinson 

The Study Abroad Program Advisor, Olga Crombie, can be reached by email or by phone (716) 645-6279. Walk-ins are welcome in 1Capen on M-F from 12:30-4:30pm and appointments can be scheduled M-F from 10am-noon.