** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
This course introduces students to the study of tourism via a historical and ecological understanding of Bocas del Toro. Students examine the challenges presented by a growing reliance on tourism for livelihoods and economic development. Students assess the impact of tourism on the natural environment within the context of the larger cultural, economic, and political dimensions. They learn about the complexities of creating environmental policies that both conserve the region's natural resources and support livelihoods and economic sustainability for local communities.
This course emphasizes the human dimensions of tourism. Students become familiar with the biodiversity of the islands, paying particular attention to the natural elements that attract tourists to the region. By interacting with local stakeholders--indigenous community members, seasonal residents, nonprofits, business owners, and government agencies--students collect data and information on belief systems, traditions, and livelihood practices and how they play a role in the management and protection of this fragile island ecosystem.
Interview local stakeholders regarding their perceptions of tourism and its role in Bocas del Toro
Practice environmental assessment techniques to identify drivers of human-induced stress in natural systems (snorkeling and swimming skill level dependent)
Visit a Marine Protected Area (MPA) to determine how tourism can support protected areas
Compare ecotourism lodges with large-scale resort hotels, assessing their impacts on social, economic, and environmental systems
Perform cost-benefit analyses on tourist activities and identify the positive and negative effects on natural systems and livelihoods in the archipelago
Study the impacts and policies related to tourism centered on watching wild animals in their natural habitats (e.g. dolphin watching)
Draft model plans and proposals for optimizing sustainable tourism in Bocas del Toro
This summer course can be taken individually (4 credits) or in combination with Session II: Applied Research Techniques & Strategies Toward Sustainability in Costa Rica (8 credits). The combined summer program provides a thorough introduction to environmental management, tourism, and sustainable development in tropical ecosystems.