Course Overview

Travel to Costa Rica to explore Neotropical systems, including lowland rain forest and cloud forest. Investigate the biotic, physical, and cultural forces that affect tropical biodiversity. We will focus on the theory and practice of inquiry in understanding local ecosystems. All students will have the chance to conduct an investigation of the local ecosystem, asking their own questions, collecting data, and presenting conclusions.

Prior to and following the field experience in Costa Rica, students will complete coursework via Dragonfly Workshops' Web-Based Learning Community as they apply experiences to their home institutions.

Course Themes

  • Ecology of cloud forests
  • Ecology of lowland rain forests
  • Ecotourism in the neotropics
  • Community-based environmental education and action
  • Curricular development and educational leadership
  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Participatory education

A typical Earth Expeditions day in Costa Rica is likely to include:

  • Visits to field conservation sites
  • Lectures
  • Student-led discussions of key course topics
  • Engagement with local communities
  • Open inquiries
  • Journal writing

"[This Earth Expeditions course] was personally the single greatest experience of my life and will have far-reaching effects. We came for an intense learning experience in the field, and we got it!"

- Paula H., Teacher, Middletown, Ohio

Planned Sites in Costa Rica

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

The enchanting cloud forests of Monteverde contain one of the leading tropical research communities in the world. We will gain direct knowledge on topics such as the ecology of cloud-forest canopies, the role of birds in determining forest structure, ecological succession, schoolyard ecology in the Neotropics, and how climate and geology shape tropical ecosystems.

La Selva Biological Station

Located in the Caribbean lowlands of northern Costa Rica, La Selva comprises 1,600 hectares (3,900 acres) of tropical wet forests and disturbed lands. It has become one of the most important sites in the world for research on tropical rain forest. Over 240 scientific papers are published yearly from research conducted at the site.

(Course locations are subject to change.)

Dragonfly Workshops Web-Based Learning Community

Upon acceptance into the program, students will join instructors and classmates in Dragonfly Workshops' collaborative Web community to complete pre-trip assignments. After returning home, students will continue to work in their Web-based community through early December to develop projects initiated in the field, discuss assignments, and exchange ideas. All students should expect to spend two to three hours a week contributing to their Web-Based Learning Community from their home or school computer. Navigating the Web platform is easy--it's designed for people with no prior computer experience. To learn more about this unique Web experience, visit

More Information

For more information on the admissions process, physical requirements, and more, please visit Admissions and/or FAQs.

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Course Details

Program Costs