Explore how international and national trends and policies have affected local sustainable development, environmental conservation and social justice efforts. At Monteverde, you will become immersed in Tico culture as you engage in the point of intersection between issues of economic, environmental and community sustainability.
• Gain employable skills in organic farming, Fair Trade cooperatives, bi-lingual education, non-profit management, conservation, and public health through service learning placements.
Butterfly Garden – environmental education
Students will be working with environmental educators to create their own experiential modules. They will learn the basics of lesson design and implementation. They will then collaborate with the rest of the students to deliver those modules in local schools.
Bellbird Biological Corridor – reforestation
Students will work on an active reforestation site and learn the challenges and successes of various reforestation models. They will in turn teach the information they have learned to local students and participate with them in a reforestation activity of their own design.
Finca La Querencia – permaculture/sustainable agriculture
Students will learn the basics of permaculture and sustainable agriculture. They will design a food module and then implement it in local schools.
Fall 2013: $15,900
Spring 2014: TBA
Includes tuition, program costs, room and board, in-country travel.
Learn about financial aid options here
16 Transferable Credits from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
upon successful completion of the program
Fall Semester: September 1 – December 8, 2013
Spring Semester: TBA
Minimum GPA: 2.5
Minimum Age: 18 and above
Language: none required
90 day Visa upon entry to Costa Rica. Students will renew their visa as part of the program.
For more information please contact our office.
Fall Semester March 15
Spring Semester September 30
Rolling admissions on a first come first serve basis, so apply early!
Contact us for availability.
Monteverde Institute (MVI) is a living laboratory dedicated to developing a just, sustainable culture and environment. MVI is well known for its non-profit management and conservation as well as supporting local bilingual schools in place-based education and several clinics focused on holistic health.
Experts, scientists and adventurers world-wide visit MVI to practice applied research, collaborate on community projects and explore this unique cloud forest nestled in the Tilaran Mountains. Learn more about the community here!
• Explore San Jose and orient yourself to a new country. Visit the national university and meet with a health expert about urban challenges
• Travel to the Caribbean side of the country to the Tirimbina Biological Reserve. http://www.tirimbina.org/ Begin to ground yourself in Costa Rica’s challenges by visiting agroindustries like pineapples and bananas and juxtaposing them with smaller cacao and organic operations. Meet with experts and learn about specific threatened species and the work being done to save them. Spend your first few days at a working biological station, building community, getting to know one another, and sharing learning objectives
• Head up to Monteverde and immerse yourself immediately in the myriad communities that make up the zone
• Hike with program staff and other students into the cloud forest reserves as your introduction to Costa Rica’s incredible bio-diversity and life zones
• Tour San Luis and meet your host community
• Program Orientation and Introduction to the vision of the Monteverde Institute
• Health and Safety orientation and overview
• Meet your host family and community and begin learning about attempts at sustainable environmental and agricultural practices
• Attend meeting at the local Quaker meeting house
• Begin an intensive immersion into Spanish language course
• Continue group building and Community activities and develop your individual learning plan
• Share your first yoga class in San Luis at the local community center
• Participate in your first team community service project (e.g. installing a biodigester, working on the trail system, etc)
• Study and field work in tropical ecology
• Begin Service Learning planning and internships
• Begin working at the local elementary school, on a reforestation project, plant beans with farmers or harvest coffee
• Engage with Quaker communities at community meetings, potlucks, scrabble games, etc.
• Begin learning a new skill during community meeting (e.g. making recycled jewelry, building furniture out of tires, etc.)
• Continue class and field study of social justice and sustainable development at the global, regional, national and local levels
• Explore cloud forest reserves and tropical biology and environmental issues
• Attend Quaker meeting, play ultimate Frisbee, go to the farmers’ market during your weekends
• Enjoy the local music festival or attend the Latin American cinema series
• Head to the dry forest and marine reserves of Guanacaste
• Learn about entirely new microclimates and economic and social sustainability challenges of coastal communities and tropical dry forests
• Snorkel, swim, boogie board or surf and explore the marine reserve
• Get a chance to view whales and/or dolphins and hear their communication underwater. (possible in the Fall semester) See turtles heading onto shore to lay eggs (possible in Spring)
• Cross the border to Nicaragua and head to the island of Ometepe
• Explore various models of permaculture and learn about the conflictual recent history of Nicaragua and its work to rebuild
• Visit the colonial city of Granada. Meet with local social justice initiatives in the city and participate in community service activities
• Construct and complete your individual internship project
• Compare social, economic and ecological challenges across two Central American countries
• Prepare video or other media projects about Tropical Ecology
• Travel to the most popular ecotourist destination on the Pacific coast and do an independent analysis of its attempts at sustainable development and its future challenges
• Interact with local artists, farmers, and Fair Trade activists
• Explore art as a creative medium and cultural force
• Final student projects/presentations to the community
• Reflect on, synthesize, and integrate learning
• Final assessment and learning celebrations
• Develop plan for taking the learning home
The health and safety of students and faculty on Living Routes programs is always our highest priority. Living Routes has clearly articulated health and safety protocols and procedures compiled in our Health and Safety Manual. This manual is reviewed and updated on a yearly basis to ensure the highest standard of care is in place on all Living Routes programs. The Health and Safety Manual is available for download here, or contact our office for a copy to be sent to you. All students also receive a comprehensive handbook including detailed chapters on health, safety and guidelines for preventing illness during the program.
Living Routes faculty and staff have extensive international experience and numerous affiliations throughout our various host communities and countries. These individuals and networks ensure that we stay informed about changing conditions and help us prevent health and safety risks while also responding to emergencies quickly and effectively if they should arise. Our program managers and directors have regular communication with field staff and faculty, who all carry emergency cell phones and are trained to carry out Living Routes Emergency and Evacuation Protocols, in the event that we must respond to an emergency, or remove a student or program from the field.
For questions or more information about Living Routes Health and Safety policies, please contact our office at (888) 515-7333 or email us at info[at]livingroutes.org.
(Biology 497M. and 497L) (4 credits, including lab)
Use nature as a laboratory, developing and practicing field methods in order to study and observe the diversity of life forms and interactions between plants, animals, microorganisms and their physical environment. The primary level of focus is on whole organism biology, ecological communities, and ecosystems, including both an introduction to methods for sampling and observing a variety of organisms. Students learn not only how to conduct research, but to conduct original research in their own areas of expertise or interest.
This field-based experience, combined with readings, dialogue, reflection and a project paper, explores the history, methods, and meanings of sustainable development.as it applies to a small farming community in Costa Rica. Students learn skills in Appreciative Inquiry and Action Research, and help select, implement, record, and evaluate their service project(s).
(Polisci 397LR and Polisci H397LR) (4 credits, including Honors colloquium)
This course explores Costa Rica and Monteverde’s historical evolution, seeking to understand the factors that affect their social, political and economic and natural environment. Explore the profound effects that income distribution, the concentration of wealth and land, and the transition of a rural way of life into a tourist destination and service economy on the efforts of a community to protect the natural environment and its way of life.
(4 Credits) (Choose one below)
This course enables students to communicate effectively in clear and correct prose in a style appropriate to subject, occasion, and audience. Using authentic, short texts (magazine articles, poems, stories, etc.) students develop basic comprehension. And the capacity to reflect upon and discuss individual, political, environmental, economic, and social aspects of life in Costa Rica and Latin America.
Intermediate Spanish and Costa Rican Culture (Spanish 297CR)
Students further develop and improve communicative skills to be able to understand the main ideas of complex texts on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in diverse areas of specialization, and interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity. Special emphasis will be given to conversation, ecological issues, and Costa Rican culture.
Advanced Spanish and Costa Rican Culture (Spanish 397CR)
This course is for students who have a mastery of grammatical structures and are interested in achieving seamless oral and written communication. At this level, reading, discussion, and analysis are all emphasized, with a particular focus on life in Costa Rica and Latin America. . Students analyze and further develop elements of rhetoric and composition in order to practice advanced writing style.
M.A.T. – Master’s of Arts in Teaching (with Distinction), Colorado College
B.A., Political Science, Colorado College
Fran Lindau’s academic focus is on comparative politics of Latin America, the environment and the peoples of the Southwest [USA], and Teaching—with a particular focus on the environmental, economic, social and political challenges of the American Southwest. After completing the Master’s she was invited to design and co-teach a course about her thesis, on the impact of extractive industries in the American West. She simultaneously worked as a research assistant and traveled extensively throughout Mexico to study trans-migratory patterns and the political ramifications of the drug war. In Costa Rica, she spent a year researching these same issues, along with the effects of ecotourism, globalization and sustainable development. Fran is concurrently Living Routes faculty and Academic Director of the Monteverde Institute.
Ph.D., Applied Anthropology, University of South Florida
M.P.H., Community and Family Health, University of South Florida
M.A., Applied Anthropology, Northern Arizona University
B.A., Anthropology, University of Miami
Kate Brelsford is an applied medical anthropologist and public health researcher. She has been a member of the Monteverde community for three years and is currently working to develop sexual health research projects in the Monteverde Zone. She conducted her doctoral research on the Gardasil (HPV) vaccine in order to understand how parents make HPV vaccine decisions for their daughters and if/how/when parents and healthcare providers discuss the vaccine. Her broader research interests include adolescent sexual health, contraceptive technologies and family planning, pregnancy and birth, sexually transmitted infections, and research methods. She has taught university-level courses including Introduction to Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Anthropological Theory; Sex, Health, and Decision-Making, and Research Methods.
M.A. Philosophy & Modern Languages, Oxford University, UK
B.A. Philosophy & Modern Languages, Oxford University, UK
Cath Murray, Coordinator of the Living Routes Costa Rica Program, is a trilingual professional translator and interpreter, who has lived and worked in France, Spain and Costa Rica, as well as her native UK. Cath’s linguistic facility, combined with her philosophical training, has produced an analytical appreciation for the relativity of cultural perspectives. As a result of her linguistic fluency and awareness of the value of clear communication between groups, Cath is driven by a desire to forge links between disparate sectors in the community. As such, she is actively involved in a local Community Arts non-profit, facilitating community yoga, theatre, dance and art projects. A certified yoga instructor who is also trained in the “Community of Inquiry” approach to dialogue, Cath has a keen interest in facilitating community-building and personal growth. She has worked with the Living Routes program in Costa Rica since its inception and has been instrumental in crafting its vision in community and outreach.
Ph.D. (ABD), Applied Anthropology, University of South Florida
M.P.H., Public Health, University of South Florida
B.A., Anthropology, University of South Florida
Ernesto Ruiz is an experienced anthropological and public health researcher who has focused on the biological and cultural dimensions of social and economic transformations. A Costa Rican native and a resident of San Luis, our students’ host community, Ernesto Ruiz brings a deep connection to the issues, people, and sustainable development of the Monteverde area. For the past several years, he has engaged in ethnographic research in the Monteverde Zone, exploring people’s perceptions concerning the transition from a small-scale agricultural to an economy heavily reliant on ecotourism. Recipient of the 2009 University of South Florida Whiteford Research Achievement Award in Medical Anthropology, Ernesto is the co-author of numerous peer-reviewed papers and articles, including Without tourism, this town doesn’t eat: Food insecurity in Monteverde, Costa Rica, presented at the 108th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association.
Ph.D. (ABD), Spanish Philology – Universidad Complutense, Madrid.
M.A., Spanish Philology and Hebrew Studies, University of Tel-Aviv, Israel
Cristina Rubio Rey, Coordinator of Monteverde Institute’s Spanish Department, has over 10 years of professional experience teaching Spanish, including appointments with the Cervantes Institute and Bosphorus University. Her academic focus has been on Spanish Philology, Hebrew Studies and Second Language Acquisition. In her classes, she emphasizes the cultural, social justice and ecological issues of Costa Rica and Central America. Before settling in Costa Rica, Cristina lived and worked in Spain, Israel, England, France and Turkey. She speaks four languages fluently and has a deep interest in language learning and intercultural communication.
UMass Faculty Sponsor: Ecological Relationships in the Tropics (BIO 497M/297L)
UMass Faculty Sponsor: Community Service Learning in CR: Theory and Practice (SRVSLRNG 390CR)
UMass Faculty Sponsor: Sustainable Development and Social Justice (POLISCI 397LR/H397LR)
UMass Faculty Sponsor: Spanish Lanuguage and Costa Rican Culture (SPAN 197CR/297CR/397CR)