Environment & Sustainable Development Field Program 

Gain research experience in the natural and social sciences while learning to address environmental issues from a multidisciplinary perspective, and explore the idea of “sustainable development.”

ICADS Field Program Semester Program Outline (13 Weeks total)

Throughout the semester, students will be living with one or more welcoming Spanish-speaking host families that will engage with them and provide them with their boarding needs. 


  • 5 Weeks
  • Rigorous academic schedule paired with the challenges of cultural immersion and language learning
  • This block and seminar are core and essential prep for engaging thoughtfully with Costa Rica and the rest of the semester

Latin American Perspectives on Justice and Sustainable Development: ECON/SOC 412

8:15-12pm, M-F | 3-4 credits

Lectures and activities each morning pertaining to the course topics of development, ecology, sociology, & economy. Course work, readings, and assignments are in English. 

  • Multidisciplinary approach to the sociological and economic issues of Latin America and Costa Rica within our ever globalizing world. 
  • A constantly evolving reading anthology, expert guest speakers, fieldwork, and local field trips are the tools used in exploring topical issues.
  • Interaction and engagement with culture through living with local host families and Spanish with Costa Rican professors 
  • Deep engagement with the cultural reality and different perspectives; some assignments involve conversations with locals or semiformal social interviews 
  • Process groups, reflective written assignments, discussions and office hours are all spaces for the students to grapple with their experiences.
  • 1 week is dedicated to a trip to the Caribbean province of Costa Rica

Spanish Course: SPA

12:45-4:15pm, M-F | 3-4 credits

  • Students are broken into small groups with peers at their same Spanish level for an intimate and conversational course. 
  • Course taken is determined by Spanish level.

Block 2 (3 Weeks):

Ecology of Managed and Natural Ecosystems: ECOL 411 

3-4 credits

  • During a 2-week group trip around the country, students carry out brief social and ecological research projects primarily in rural communities, while staying in eco-tourist, community run facilities. 
  • This is a course on sustainable development which is tied into the efforts of real life communities to better monitor and measure biological parameters.
  • Students visit 3 to 4 different ecosystems within Costa Rica where they learn about a diversity of ecological zones, resource management and systems of regional development. These sites are potential locations for their research projects. 
  • Readings and note-taking are expected.
  • Students take an open-notes, written exam on the topics covered and give a presentation on their mini-research projects. 

Block 3 (5 Weeks):

Independent Field Work/Research: IND/RES 451

6-8 credits

  • Students conceive, design, execute and report the results of a research project with a biological/ecological or sociological focus. Course professors are available as consultants in the designing and reviewing of projects, and will help with logistics.
  • These research projects range from environmental and biology heavy studies to sociological ones. ICADS tries to steer students towards studying issues that are ecologically or socially relevant to local communities, and make their results available to them.  

Pre-Block 3 Prep: Working with the course professors, students create a research proposal 

Weeks 1-3: Students collect data at their field site and check in with the coordinators weekly 

Weeks 4-5: Students write a research paper and present it to their cohort during the final week. Format and content is held to a high standard. Along with the Internship group, students complete a reflection workshop prior to departure

Application Deadlines:

 Fall Semester May 1
 Spring Semester November 1


ICADS recommends 15 credits for the Field Program, broken down as:

  • 3 Credits SPA Spanish
  • 3 Credits ECON/SOC 421 Latin American Perspectives on Justice and Sustainable Development
  • 3 Credits ECOL 411 Ecology of Managed and Natural Ecosystems
  • 6 Credits IND/RES Independent Research
  • Keep in mind that the final number of credits granted is up to the university. Be sure to check with your university if you have questions about credits

Financial Information:

Field Program Tuition and Fees (Spring & Fall 2024)

 Final payment$14,250 
 TOTAL COST$14,750 
  • Fall Semester 2024
    • Sep 02 2024 to Nov 27 2024
  • Spring Semester 2025
    • Feb 03 2025 to May 9 2025
  • Fall Semester 2025
    • Sep 01 2025 to Dec 5 2025
14 weeks
& Credit
Deposit: $500 (applied to total) Tuition & Fees: $14,750