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Programs

Advanced Spanish for Ecology
Conducted on site at the Finca la Isla del Cielo, this course provides you with the structures, vocabulary, cultural context and discipline-specific content to receive lectures and conduct interviews in Spanish around the theme of human and tropical ecology. It also serves as the core course for deepening your understanding of Costa Rican culture and facilitating integration into local communities through living with rural families.

Human Ecology
This course is designed to take advantage of the rich and varied cultural and ecological resources available at Finca la Isla del Cielo and its neighboring communities. Topics include: Worldviews and Natural History, Art and Ecology, Protected Areas and People, and Agroecology. Each topic combines theoretical considerations, case studies, methodologies, and fieldwork, and makes extensive use of Finca la Isla del Cielo’s resources. The last topic of this unit, Agroecology, with its emphasis on both the social and ecological, segues into the following course on Tropical Ecology. Through the study of human ecology, you gain a greater understanding of critical interactions between humans and the natural world. You study beliefs about the relationship between humans and the natural environment as expressed through worldviews; explore where these cultural systems of knowing intersect and diverge; investigate both the possible conflicts and potential synergies between community use of resources and the conservation and restoration of ecosystems; and examine and implement the principles of environmentally conscious and socially sensitive farming practices at Finca la Isla del Cielo’s permaculture site. The course is taught on site by faculty from Pitzer and the Claremont Colleges.

Tropical Ecology
Using the farm as a biological field station, the course provides a field-intensive exploration of the terrestrial and marine ecology of the Neotropi-cal region, with an emphasis on Costa Rica. The course covers physical geography, biodiversity theory, and practical methods of data collection and analysis. Field and laboratory work focuses on the terrestrial, estuarine and marine ecosystems of southwestern Costa Rica, with additional visits to contrasting ecosystems. The two primary goals of the course are (a) to provide you with a foundation in the physical geography of the tropics, an understanding of the patterns of tropical biodiversity and their underlying ecological theory, and a basis for the critical assessment of conservation and restoration ecology options; and (b) to provide hands-on experience with the identification of key groups of tropical organisms and the techniques used to quantify them. The course is taught on site by faculty from the Joint Science Department of the Claremont Colleges.

Directed Independent Research Project
You may focus on one aspect of human or tropical ecology to study in greater depth through an independent research project or internship. The research may link to longitudinal studies established for the program by Claremont faculty.