Costa Rica Summer

June 3 - July 9, 2024

InterVarsity Study Abroad partners with Institute of Central American Development Studies (ICADS) to provide a 6-week study abroad summer program designed to help you engage with the challenges of development and environmental sustainability, through experiential learning in Christian community.


Environmental Justice: a sustainable future for people and place

In this program, you will become acquainted with the region’s history, natural resource base, the processes of globalization and development, especially in the Central American context; through readings, discussions, lectures and field experiences. Among the themes discussed are colonialism and neo-colonialism, the world economic order and poverty, the environment and justice, development theory and practice, multinational corporations, free trade, and options for sustainable development.

You will learn from a variety of local professors, practitioners, NGO leaders, and public service professionals. Discussions and readings are lively! You also get a first-hand view of Costa Rican renewable energy and environmental sustainability efforts through selected field trips.

Among the topics covered in this study abroad course and practicum:

Among the topics covered in this study abroad course and practicum:

  • The environmental and economic implications of plantation agriculture, small-scale farming, ecotourism, bioprospecting, and national park management
  • The impact of export-oriented development on family structure, class hierarchy, and racial divisions
  • Education and training of resource management importance and practice in rural communities
  • Strategies for conserving natural resources (organic agriculture, agroforestry etc), facilitating community organization (women’s groups, farmers’ cooperatives) and promoting local control over systems of production

The Practicum: getting your hands dirty

Learning is often best when we get out of the classroom and “get our hands dirty” by putting theory into practice. In this case, quite literally! During the middle 3 weeks of the program, your team will work within a community on various projects to help local coffee farmers move toward a more sustainable, organic, forest-friendly process. It is fully immersive, including living with a host family, and getting to learn from and contribute to real families making wrestling with real sustainability changes.

Program Location

This summer opportunity begins and ends in San Jose, the nation's capital. The practicum assignment is made in smaller rural agricultural community in the surrounding rainforest area of central Costa Rica.

Program Pillars

  1. Life in Christian Community: Reflection, prayer, bible study, worship and sharing are a part of the group experience beyond the classroom and field learning. InterVarsity staff are directly involved in discipleship and pastoral care for you during the summer program.
  2. Spanish Language Growth: You will increase your language proficiency in the first two weeks with tutor-guided intensive language classes at their appropriate level. In the practicum portion, you will live with a host family where little English will be spoken. No prior Spanish classes are required, though it is highly recommended beginners start their language learning either by classes or self-paced before the summer.
  3. Practicum for Cross-Cultural Learning and Service: You will have the opportunity to put theory into practice, to “get your hands dirty” (literally), as you work in a small agricultural community that is working toward better environmentally sustainable and economically viable practices. During this time you will live in the home of a host family.
  4. Deepening your love for God and God’s Creation: Lectures from classroom speakers, field-visit sites, the location and partners for the practicum, and even our excursions are designed to grow your awe and wonder and passion to care for God’s marvelous created world.
  5. Connection with IFES: InterVarsity is a part of a global evangelical student movement called International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. ECU is the local student movement at several Universities throughout Costa Rica. You will have the opportunity to meet some of these students and partner with them to help host in an environmentally focused campus outreach program.

When is it?

June 3 - July 9, 2023

How much does it cost?

$4400 ($4100 audited) for total program cost.
Cost includes all expenses within country except for meals or other personal costs during the excursion weekend or field day trip (we estimate $100 spending money would be sufficient). Travel to and from program is student’s responsibility and in addition to program cost. Students who elect to audit the program at a slightly lower cost will not receive a transcript for credit, but are expected to fully participate in all aspects of the program.

Do I receive academic credit?

Upon successful completion of course work, you will be granted a transcript for 3 credits of the course ECON/SOC 421 “Latin American Perspectives on Justice and Sustainable Development.” The program’s school of record is Hampshire college. You are responsible to work with your school registrar to assure their acceptance of this transfer credit. Our student advisor will help guide you in this process of securing transfer credit.

How will I grow as a disciple of Christ?

  • Through community reflection times that include prayer, discussion, and scripture
  • Personal pastoral mentorship by InterVarsity staff
  • Conversations with local Christian students, families, or program partners
  • Time spent with God through prayer and reflection in nature

Talk to an Advisor

Interested in learning more about the Costa Rica summer program? We are here to help you navigate questions as you discern, work with your university and plan for summer study abroad. Take the next step and schedule an appointment with an InterVarsity Advisor today.

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