Pre-College Programs
Brown Environmental Leadership Lab: Costa Rica
Brown Environmental Leadership Lab: Costa Rica
Brown Environmental Leadership Lab: Costa Rica
Brown Environmental Leadership Lab: Costa Rica
Brown Environmental Leadership Lab: Costa Rica
Brown Environmental Leadership Lab: Costa Rica

Brown Environmental Leadership Lab: Costa Rica: Program Details

Monteverde: The Cloud Forest

Brown University Global Program in Costa Rica

Students will spend several days in Monteverde, located in the highlands of northwestern Costa Rica. The Monteverde Zone spans several different ecosystems, linking Costa Rica’s drier Pacific slopes with the country’s wet Atlantic forests. Along the continental divide just above Monteverde lies the tropical montane cloud forest, a rare forest ecosystem that is almost continually in mist. This striking contrast of wet and dry ecosystems makes Monteverde an extraordinary place to study plant-animal interactions, ecology and natural history.

The name Monteverde—“green mountain”—can mean different things. In general it refers to the Monteverde Zone, a geographical area that encompasses approximately 14 communities. Historically these communities produced much of Costa Rica’s milk, and the area was popularly known as the “milk shed.”

Monteverde also refers to the original Monteverde village founded by 14 Quaker families in 1951. These Quakers came to Costa Rica in search of a place where they could live out their pacifist beliefs without persecution, after four of their men were convicted, jailed, and eventually released for refusing to sign up for the U.S. draft. Today the village of Monteverde has several hundred residents, and still maintains a strong Quaker/USA influence.

Because of its natural beauty and unique history, Monteverde is a prime eco-tourist destination, attracting almost a quarter of all the tourists who visit Costa Rica. Much of this growth has occurred in the last fifteen years, and Monteverde is grappling with the rapid shift from a sleepy, dairy zone to one dependent on tourism. While in Monteverde, students will conduct research in the cloud forest and meet with local farmers and residents in order to learn how locals are attempting to balance economic development with environmental preservation.

Brown Environmental Leadership Lab: Costa Rica

Area de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG): Ecology and Conservation in the Tropical Dry Forest

Brown University Global Program in Costa Rica

Students will also spend several days in the northwestern corner of Costa Rica, in Santa Rosa National Park within the ACG. The ACG contains 80% of the biodiversity of Costa Rica, and is approximately as species-diverse as the entire United States and Canada combined. The ACG was designated a UNESCO world heritage site for both this staggering diversity and the innovative conservation, research, and education initiatives taking place there.  

While in the ACG, students learn about a range of issues in local conservation, from management of wildlife habitat, to extraction of natural resources, fire control, environmental policy and education.  We work to understand how to balance conservation goals with economic development in an economically disadvantaged region.

Homestays

While students are in Monteverde, they will have the opportunity to live for several days with local families. This is a tremendous opportunity to practice Spanish language skills and develop a deeper appreciation for life in Monteverde.

Life at BELL: Costa Rica »

Your Action Plan

What happens after you leave Costa Rica? How will you respond to the needs of your neighbors, your community and the world?

We believe that it is not enough to understand complex social issues. Instead, effective leaders ask themselves, "What will we do with what we know? How will we serve others? How might we work for long-term social change?" 

At the Leadership Institute, we help our students define the issues that they are passionate about and construct an Action Plan to address them. We work with you to set realistic goals, identify mentors and resource people, and anticipate challenges.

We encourage you to think about some potential Action Plan topics before you come to BELL, but most students don't actually know what their Action Plan will be until they start working on it at BELL. Your instructors will help you design an Action Plan that fits your interests and skills.

Below are examples of BELL Student Action Plans:

Review students’ final reports on their plans in our digital Action Plan library.

Your program fee includes:

Your Program fee does not include:

Life at BELL: Costa Rica »