BIST Costa Rica 2022

Picture of Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

Costa Rica:

Agriculture, Biodiversity, & Economic Development

Instructors: Dr. Sean Clark and Dr. Volker Grzimek
Date: May Term (Summer I)
Estimated Cost: $5,070*

Internationally renowned for its conservation of biodiversity and its ambitious commitment to reach carbon neutrality, Costa Rica is a small tropical nation that still relies heavily upon farming for its economy. Domestic production and exports of banana, coffee, pineapple, sugar, dairy, beef, ornamental plants, and timber are critically important to sustain rural communities economically. Costa Rica has also developed ecotourism as a means of generating needed jobs in rural areas where protected lands are unavailable for farming and timber harvest. How does this Central American nation maintain its extensive system of national parks, wildlife refuges, and forest reserves while managing the impacts of tourism and agriculture?

In this course we will examine how rural communities in Costa Rica make their living from the land, either through farming, agroforestry, ecotourism or other means without sacrificing the nation’s natural and cultural integrity. We will travel through the countryside to visit farms, farmers markets and rural communities; hike through parks and refuges; explore forest canopies, rivers, volcanoes and the coast; and participate in natural-resource management projects. Students will gain perspective and deep understanding about the challenges involved in protecting human quality of life while stewarding the land resources and tropical biodiversity for future generations.

Financial Support

Financial support from Berea College is available for any major to cover a portion of the cost of a summer abroad. The Department of Foreign Languages offers similar financial support for qualified majors and minors. Find out more information on how to obtain financial support.

This program is eligible for the Gilman scholarship. Start applying!

*This is the estimated cost. Note that Berea BIST budgets are all-inclusive: program, airfare, housing, meals, immunizations, insurance, spending money—the works!


For specific questions about this course, contact Dr. Sean Clark or Dr. Volker Grzimek.

For general questions about the BIST application process or scholarships, contact the Education Abroad Team at or 859-985-3453, or drop by 205 Woods-Penniman.