Goals of the Program

  • Students will demonstrate a critical understanding of the biodiversity of the varied tropical rainforest ecosystems of Costa Rica; the published scientific research behind global climate change and the international policies enacted thus far; the published scientific research behind the specific ecological and conservation research projects to be undertaken at La Selva; the scientific work and conservation efforts of the OTS, La Selva to protect the biodiversity of the tropical rainforest; and, the geography, culture, government, educational and environmental policies, and people of Costa Rica.
  • Students will participate in an international field-based research project (course-based undergraduate research experience or CURE), journal their experiences, collect data in a professional scientific notebook, and analyze and interpret authentic data—all under the mentorship of professional scientists and instructors.
  • Students will evaluate and synthesize how conservation efforts and scientific research are key components to maintaining species diversity and sustainability of tropical rainforests worldwide.
  • Students will be able to critically assess a problem, argument, scientific finding or policy that pertains to rainforest conservation and sustainability and contribute intellectually to a discussion on the topic at hand.
  • Students will present their original research findings to the scientific community at the OTS, La Selva community at an official Penn State and OTS Undergraduate Research Symposium.
  • Students will execute a conservation-based, service project (river margins reforestation, river cleanup, or invasive species removal). Each of these projects will be accompanied by a pre- and post-activity lecture and discussions, that explore the context (social, economic, political, and environmental) of these activities.


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