Salisbury University

Salisbury, MD 21801
Fall: March 1
Spring: October 1
Summer: March 1
Winter Term: October 1
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Costa Rica

Salisbury Global Seminar: Costa Rica - Biodiversity Studies

Term To Study: Winter Term 2020
Application Deadline: Mar 15, 2020
Program Category: One-Country
Program Type: Faculty-led
Program Fee: $3,250
Contact Phone: 410-677-5027
Contact Name: Ms. Mary Gunther & Dr. Eric Liebgold
Contact Email:
What is Included: - SU tuition and fees
- Housing and most meals
- All planned excursions
- GeoBlue international health insurance
What is not Included: International Airfare | $800
Personal expenses (varies by individual) | $150
Passport fees (if applicable): $135
Visa (none required): $0

** Tuition remission for USM employees and their families does not apply to the Global Seminar programs.**
Program Description

The winter program Biodiversity Studies in Costa Rica runs for 15 days in January 2020. The tentative dates for 2020 are Jan 6 – 21. Eleven days will be spent in country, with several days before/after on campus required. The program is designed to give students the opportunity to experience and study the vast biodiversity of Costa Rica. Costa Rica’s incredibly diverse ecology makes it truly unique on our planet. Starting in Tortuguero—nesting ground of sea turtles— we will begin to explore the many different habitats of Costa Rica. Visits to Tirimbina Biological Reserve and La Selva Biological Station will acquaint students with research happening in real time. In Monteverde students will experience the rain forest canopy via zip lines and hanging bridges. In Arenal we will Kayak at the base of an active volcano. The last part of the trip will take us into the Guanacaste Region where we will visit Palo Verde National Park and Las Baulas National Marine Park. This Global Seminar is designed by Ms. Gunther and Dr. Liebgold in conjunction with EF Customized Tours. Both faculty members have traveled with EF many times and found them to be professional and to provide excellent service in Costa Rica.


Students in this program have a choice of one of two programs to enroll in.

IDIS 399: Biodiversity, Ecotourism and Culture (4 credits) – Study of the Economics of Biodiversity in Costa Rica. This course is designed to help both biology majors and non-majors appreciate the biodiversity of the planet using Costa Rica as an example. The emphasis will be on the methods used to conserve biodiversity while developing the economy. We will examine the methods used on the ground in Costa Rica by visiting national parks, research, agricultural and cultural facilities. Students will develop an understanding of how complex conservation can be. Students will develop or sharpen their skills of scientific observation through guided activities and time on their own to observe. They will maintain a Journal, answering directed prompts as well as recording their own impressions of the day’s activities. In addition to science, the course will include large measures of language, culture, art, history, and a general appreciation for Costa Rica and her people. There will be assigned readings to be completed before traveling to Costa Rica; a research project based on the students major and a paper due after we return from the field. All assignments will be posted on the course website and discussed in country. There are no prerequisites for the course, and it is open to all university students. The instructor for this class is Ms. Mary R. Gunther, M.S.

BIOL 299 or 399:Tropical Biodiversity and Ecology (3 credits). BIOL 299 is a General Education IVA Lab Science and has no prerequisites. BIOL 399 has a prerequisite of at least one BIOL 200+ BIOL course.

This course will teach students how to investigate and understand biodiversity and ecology of tropical forests and other ecosystems, using the diverse habitat in Costa Rica as an example. The emphasis will be on understanding why tropical ecosystems have much higher biodiversity than most other ecosystems. Field studies in forests of Costa Rica will build on lectures by teaching students to identify tropical wildlife and to use techniques for surveying wildlife. Then students will use this knowledge to survey biodiversity of organisms, including birds and mammals, record this data, calculate biodiversity indices, compare them among habitats and levels of human disturbance, as well as teach them to report this data. The goal of this class is to help students understand and appreciate a unique part of the natural world, focusing on how and why the tropics are so diverse and also understanding threats to tropical ecosystems. The instructor for this class is Dr. Eric Liebgold.


All overnight stays will be in hotels with private bathrooms. We will spend the first night in San Jose, two nights in Tortuguero, one in Sarapiqui, one in Arenal, two each in Monterverde and Guanacaste. The names and websites of all hotels will be provided to students and their families before departure.


Cost is estimated to be $3250 (plus airfare). A final cost will be determined early fall 2019. The price includes tuition, transfers in country, all meals, housing, tour guide and bus driver, admissions to all parks and excursions and insurance. Activities and entrance fees include: boat excursion in Tortuguerro, admission to Tortuguerro National park, Chocolate Tour in Sarapiqui, guided tour at La Selva Biological Station, night hikes, zip-line tour, admission to Monteverde Reserve and the Butterfly Garden and admission to all parks in the Guanacaste Region. As we travel between destinations we will make stops at places like a banana plantation and other opportunities as they arise. An official group airfare itinerary will be identified with the Student Travel Agency (STA Travel) and shared with registered students over the summer, so they may book their tickets beginning six months prior to departure.


A passport is required and must be valid for three months before departure – which means you must have a valid passport by October 2019. This is the responsibility of the student and is not included in the program cost above.

The application deadline is May 1, 2019. The program will be limited to 20 students. After the first 20 students are admitted and have submitted the Confirmation of Participation form, any additional applicants may be placed on a waiting list. Students will create an online account profile and then submit their application online by selecting "Apply to this Program" below.

Students will submit the following through their online application:

* An unofficial transcript

*A 300 word essay answering the question: "How will my participation in the Salisbury Abroad Biodiversity Studies Program contribute significantly to my academic career and influence future plans? Your essay should include which of the two course you are applying for.

* A completed faculty recommendation form from a faculty member who knows the student well

Quick Facts

Population: 4636348
Capital: San Jose
Per-capita GDP: $ 12100
Size: 51100 km2
Time Zone: (GMT - 06:00 hours) Central Time (US & Canada)

US State Department

Travel Warning: YES
See :
Country Specific Info.

Salisbury University Education Abroad