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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, Costa Rica
  • Program Terms: January Term
  • Program Cost: January Term
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Language of Instruction: English Subject Areas: Biology
Program Sponsor: UST
Program Description:

Tropical Plants, Foods, and Medicine in Costa Rica

JT22 costa rica panel


  • Explore Plant Biology while being immersed in a lowland tropical rainforest.  The course will be located (for three weeks) at La Selva Biological Station, an Internationally renowned research station which includes more than 4000 acres of protected rainforest.
  • Learn the basics of plant biology through the lens of human uses of plants as food and medicine.  Course will explore plant form, function, adaptations and diversity with a focus on tropical plants.
  • Excursions will include visits to coffee, chocolate, pineapple, and sustainable farms, as well as an ethnobotanical tour of the forest with local experts.
  • Prerequisites: BIOL 208, 209
  • Fulfills: Biology 315


Course Description
This course will explore plant biology in a tropical setting with a focus on plant structure-function relationships, plant adaptations and biodiversity.  The course will explore issues of sustainability in agriculture and medicine, the role of plants in these issues, as well as cultural differences with regard to how plants are used in these contexts. 
Program Structure

The course will begin with two days on campus  which will include some orientation, as well some lecture/discussion and lab time.  Once in La Selva the course format will consist of morning class time, with afternoons typically designated for excursions, time in the field, or independent research.  Many evenings will include group discussion of readings/ excursions, etc. 

Exams (40% of grade),  2 exams will be included to assess students understanding of the foundational material related to plant form and function.
Reading/Site Visit Reflection Portfolio:  (20% of grade).  Students will assemble a portfolio of reflections on both site visits and assigned readings.  They will be given specific prompts for each reflection and the prompts will include reflection on intercultural learning.
Independent projects & Other activities: (40% of grade) Students will conduct several projects throughout the duration of the course including a digital portfolio of plant form and function, an independent research project of their choosing in La Selva, a Lowland Tropical Forest characterization project, and independent research on a medicinal plant from the area.
Location and Tentative Dates

We will be meeting on campus for two days at the start of the term: Jan. 3-4.
The remainder of the course will be at La Selva Biological Station:  Jan. 5-27
Housing and Meals

We will be staying at a research stations during the course. Practically all meals will be provided.

Click on the Program Cost link above for detailed cost information.
Total Cost Includes: Tuition, transportation and course arrangements as indicated, hotel accommodations and some meals.

Application Procedures & Deadline
  • Select the Apply Now button at the top to start your online application.
  • Log in using your St. Thomas username and password.
  • Complete all application materials by the application deadline. Students are encouraged to apply during the priority enrollment period, April 1-10. Applications will be accepted after April 10 for programs with space still remaining until the final application deadline of October 1.
  • Download and read Short-Term Off-Campus Policies and Procedures.  You are responsible for reading, understanding and abiding by its content.
Priority Application Deadline: April 10, 2021
Final Application Deadline: October 1, 2021
Financial Aid/Scholarships
Students studying abroad during J-Term are generally only eligible for additional loans to help finance their study abroad costs. Please review Financial Aid for Study Abroad. Scholarships may also be available from St. Thomas and some Other Approved Programs. Please refer to our Scholarships webpage for details and review Short-Term Off-Campus Policies and Procedures for additional financial aid information.

For more information
On course content, contact: Prof. Amy Verhoeven,
                                             Catherine Grant, 

On application procedures or logistical information, contact:

Office of Study Abroad | University of St. Thomas
Murray-Herrick 212 | 651.962.6450 | |

Sustainability & Study Abroad: CO2 Emissions for This Program
The flights for this program release 0.7956 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. To put that into perspective, this is equivalent to CO2 emissions from 101,468 smartphone charges. Another way to look at this is that it would take 33.9 bags of waste recycled instead of brought to a landfill OR 30.2 incandescent lamps switched to LEDs to offset these CO2 emissions. We encourage students to make decisions to offset their carbon production from studying abroad. Check out the CoolClimate Network’s carbon footprint calculator to identify and quantify specific behavior changes that can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.

This program is currently not accepting applications.