The theme of this course is exploring the relation between biotechnology, sustainable production and biodiversity and how they impact the environment, society, and well-being of the population in the newly industrialized country of Costa Rica. Students will travel the country to visit various locations and investigate and research the relationship themselves by discussing with Costa Rican citizens, farmers, company representatives, government officials and researchers.
Capstone in Costa Rica
Mostly Cloudy, 70 F
Thu - Isolated Thunderstorms. High: 81 Low: 64
Fri - Scattered Thunderstorms. High: 81 Low: 61
Distance to Cedar Falls: 2310 miles
San Jose, located in the center of Costa Rica, is the capital of Costa Rica with a population of about 300,000 people. San Jose makes up about 37% of the nation's population therefore giving you numerous venues of entertainment from nightclubs, casinos and shopping malls to museums and restaurants. Costa Rica is an adventurer's palace. Travel outside the city and you can go scuba diving, white water rafting, visit one of the many beautiful waterfalls or volcanoes or take an exhilarating forest canopy tour.
According to the Pacific Business News of Honolulu, Costa Rica was the number one adventure destination in 2003. One can understand why, when you have a pleasant climate year round and beautiful views of lush green mountainsides surrounding this bustling city.
Dr. Axel Schwekendiek
Course Facebook Page:
The focus for the course will be biotechnology, the environment, and biodiversity and how sustainable production impacts Costa Rica's society, education, and workforce. We will highlight different aspects of modern biotechnology (plant, animal, and marine) and compare it to "green technologies" like organic farming and how it impacts biodiversity. In an integrative assessment, we will study, evaluate, and discuss technology impacts on society and global trade. We will extend the focus and include a discussion of the impact of tourism (ecotourism) on preserving biodiversity and sustainable production as the major pillars for economic growth in a country that relies on tourism and exports and calls itself “environmentally friendly.”
The course requires daily travels to visit different locations in the country. In general, trips will be physically demanding due to the daily driving, walking in the warm and humid climate, and the sometimes quickly changing climate zones. Good personal health is required. Some trips to more remote locations (for example into the center of natural reserves) will even require long hiking trips (up to 8 hours) and overnight camping, even outdoors. There is a risk of exposure to tropical diseases (malaria, dengue fever, hepatitis B), and venomous snakes. Vaccination is strongly recommended. For students who have interests in less demanding activities, alternative arrangements may be offered, if possible.
The course involves a preparatory phase with 6-8 weekly seminars during the Spring semester of 2012. Attendance to these sessions is mandatory. Students will research in depth a specific topic related to the course. Each student will give a 20-minute presentation about a topic of interest, followed by a discussion.
While there, the itinerary will be as follows (tentative):
Day 1: Depart and arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica
Day 2: Travel to Arenal National Park and the La Fortuna Hot Springs
Day 3: Travel to Manuel Antonio
Day 4: Spend time at Manuel Antonio and Bahia Ballenas (whale and dolphin watching, snorkelling)
Day 5: Travel to Puerto Jimenez and the Osa Peninsula
Day 6-Day 10: 5-Day hiking tour from Los Plator to Carate
Day 11: Return to San Jose
Day 12: Tour of San Jose and city market
Day 13: Return home
Accommodation & Meals
Accommodations will vary thoughout the course from camping to hostels and hotels.
The total estimated cost for this program is $3,500-$4,500.
- Round-trip airfare
- UNI Tuition and Fees for 3-credits
- Housing while abroad
- Transportation while abroad
- Group meals
- Cultural activities
- Personal Expenses
Students pay UNI tuition and fees (in-state or out-of-state), the $65 application fee, and the study abroad administration fee to participate.
Tales From Abroad
"I can’t believe I did this. Only pictures can make me believe I ever set foot in Costa Rica. That, and little snippets of memory that remind me of those short two weeks I spent there are my only recollection of that short expedition. In the whole spectrum of my life decisions in its entirety, next to deciding to attend college, this is the best decision I’ve ever made. I was taken from my world: a life built comfortably in Northeast Iowa for twenty-four years and knowing nothing else, and tossed into a world unknown where uncertainty was around every corner. I have been yearning for an experience of this altitude for a while; I just had to find the right time. In regards to having eye-opening experiences, I’m sure glad I took that step!"
Karen Kobliska, Summer 2011