This four-week international field course provides a critical evaluation of key theories in planetary health, including the interactions between human, animal, and environmental health, conservation of biodiversity, environmental policy, and sustainable human systems, with an emphasis on place-based learning. Students will visit a series of sites in Costa Rica, relevant to the current climate crisis, including wind and solar farms, biological field stations in tropical forests, and institutions focused on sustainability.
Learn more about Planetary Health and Global Climate Change in Costa Rica
May 23-June 20, 2022
December 2, 2021
HHC Great Room
Virtual Option (Register here)
Course Title: HON-H251: Planetary Health and Global Climate Change in Costa Rica (3 cr.)
HON-X298: Honors Research: International Fieldwork (1 cr.)
Syllabus Description: This four-week international field course provides a critical evaluation of key theories in planetary health, including the interactions between human, animal, and environmental health, conservation of biodiversity, environmental policy, and sustainable human systems, with an emphasis on place-based learning. Utilizing global climate change as a focus for our exploration of planetary health across Costa Rica, students will visit a series of relevant sites to the current climate crisis, including wind and solar farms, biological field stations in tropical forests, and institutions focused on sustainability. Global climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, yet there remains much confusion regarding its scientific background among the public and policymakers and continued arguments among politicians over the best way to deal with its consequences. We will address the science and politics of climate change in this class using an interdisciplinary approach that examines the issue across Costa Rica. Scientifically, we will examine the basics of climate science, how climate influences organisms and ecosystems, how humans influence the climate, and the ways organisms deal with climate change biologically. An emphasis will be placed on the role of climate change in ecological and evolutionary processes, how human activity interacts with these processes, and the consequences of this interaction on human health and sustainability. Complementing the science, we will also look at the historical and political context in which the science operates. Specifically, we will consider the processes of industrialization that are driving climate change, the current rhetoric and consequence of climate change denial, and responses to that denial. Finally, we will examine how humans are dealing with climate change through technological advances, public policy agreement, and conservation and the success, or lack thereof, of those efforts. As part of the course, students will conduct independent research during their field experiences. Results from this work will be evaluated in the context of larger regional and global trends and presented in a public blog throughout the course and a final radio segment upon returning from Costa Rica.
- Meet with students at Earth University, where participants will learn about novel sustainability solutions.
- Visit to the La Fortuna Hot Springs to learn about geothermal energy.
- Overnight excursion to Rancho Margot to learn about farming off the grid.
- Visits to wind farms and hydroelectric plants to discuss Costa Rica's approach to carbon neutrality.
- Excursions to national parks and protected nature areas.
Program participants will stay at four field stations, each for one week. Arrangements for accommodations have been made in coordination with the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) in Costa Rica. Field station lodging, collaboration spaces, classrooms, a cafeteria, soccer fields, and labs cover all needs for visitors. Each student will share a dormitory style room with a shared bathroom, furnished with a bed, desk, and chair. Field stations will do laundry for a small fee.
Summer 2020 Program Fee - $3200*
The program fee includes accommodations (both program housing at field stations and additional excursion accommodations in between sites), most meals, transportation to and from all field sites and excursion sites, entry fees to all sites, student travel insurance, and administrative fees
*Program fee information is from summer 2020. Information for summer 2022 will be available later in the semester.
IUB Tuition - 4 credit hours
The tuition cost for this program is based on IU Bloomington tuition. The amount of tuition will vary based on student resident status. See the Student Central website for more information on current tuition rates.
Additional Variable Costs
Variable costs are paid before and after you arrive in Costa Rica as you pay for roundtrip international airfare, some meals, snacks, personal expenses, and independent travel outside the program. See the program fee sheet for more details.
Note: The program fee and tuition will appear on your bursar bill and are paid directly to IU. See the program fee sheet for more details.
All admitted program participants are awarded an automatic HIEP Hutton Honors Study Abroad Scholarship of $1500 applied directly to the program fee. No separate application is required.
Note: Program participants are not eligible to apply for the HIEP Grant.
Please see the IU Office of Overseas Study website for more information on other available scholarships and financial aid opportunities.
*Scholarship information is from summer 2020. Information for summer 2022 will be available later in the semester.