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Community Engagement in Costa Rica

Course Overview & Description

This community engaged-learning abroad course (CELA) explores the power of community engagement high up in the Costa Rican cloud forest.  We utilize the history, culture, and civic issues affecting Monteverde, Costa Rica, as a living laboratory of thought, expression, diversity, and discussion. The course is composed of weekly on-campus class meetings and a one-week intensive in-country experience in Costa Rica over Spring break in March.  The course is the result of collaborative efforts between the Bennion Center, Learning Abroad, the Departments of Political Science, Undergraduate Studies, and the Monteverde Institute. 

Central to Community Engagement in Costa Rica is the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of community-based experiential learning. We will consider and discuss civic leadership, community health, systems ecology, and collective impact to better understand how the activities and impacts of traveling and tourism affect quality of life, culture, and community in a Central American country.

Course & Travel Dates

Spring Break: March 6-14, 2020

This course will meet every Wednesday from 4:30 - 6pm starting January 8 until spring break when the class will travel to Costa Rica for one-week intensive community engaged learning and adventure. The travel and experiential learning component will include several community activities, projects, and excursions.

Students will learn from first hand experiences that highlight:

1. the role of women in development
2. fair trade agriculture
3. eco-tourism
4. sustainable development
5. conservation biology
6. cooperative business management
7. micro-enterprise


Applications are due Friday, November 1, 2019.

Instructions on how to use the Learning Abroad application system. Learning Abroad also offers scholarships and financing.

Please contact Dean McGovern for more information.



We are holding info sessions at the Bennion Center on the following dates. 12:00pm-1:00pm.

  • Tuesday, September 10, 2019 
  • Wednesday, September 25, 2019
  • Tuesday, October 15, 2019
  • Wednesday, October 30, 2019


Learning Abroad Fair

Come join us at our table at the Learning Abroad Fair: Union Ballroom Thursday, September 19, 2019 from 11:00am-2:00pm. 



Student Reflections from the Spring 2019 trip:

"When an individual becomes too focused on themselves and their success, the world outside them becomes lost. The values I observed this week allowed for success and improvement without taking away from others. It is trail and error, collaboration, reconstruction and support that drives this community."

"I feel like this course has opened my eyes to new ways of looking at volunteering and living. I will strive to take small steps to live a little more sustainably."

"This trip impacted me, making me want to live a life even further devoted to protecting our planet. I think it’s important to focus on community and individual efforts in conservation." 

Costa Rica

Last Updated: 1/10/20