For students who wish to study abroad in Costa Rica, but are not fluent in Spanish, Veritas offers a broad range of elective courses in areas such as Art, Business, Economics, Communications, Environmental Science, History, Politics, Theology and Health—all taught in English.
Courses have a minimum enrollment policy of 6 students. 4 credit (60 hrs.) courses have mandatory field sessions and some may require Laboratory hours.
This course is an introduction to genetics, focused on its applications for current issues related to the diagnosis of human diseases, paternity, taxonomy, ecology, conservation, agronomy and the environment. After having gained a general understanding of the concepts related to genetics, students will perform research projects in Costa Rica, which will then be presented and discussed in order to learn what types of questions science can answer using genetics as a tool. Field trips and laboratory practice will provide an opportunity for students to study how samples are collected, processed and analyzed.
This course provides an introduction to the major environmental problems and issues confronting modern society. Students will examine ecosystems, population patterns and dynamics, the use and misuse of resources, population and environmental quality, environmental citizenship and economic incentives, and eco-tourism initiatives in Costa Rica.
In this course, students will learn about the interactions between earth and land, and how these processes affect our lives and the stability of our planet. Emphasis will be given to the study of the most relevant tropical ecosystems, such as tropical rain forests, cloud forests, coral reefs and mangroves. Field trips to selected environments will provide on-site examples of some of the issues we learn about through class work and readings. All field trips are mandatory.
This course provides an introduction to the main topics of ornithology, with an emphasis on neotropical avifauna. Major topics include the unique features that make neotropical avifauna a highlight of bird studies, including its evolutionary relationships, the extremely high species diversity of the neotropics, and the natural history of Costa Rican birds. With more than 900 bird species, Costa Rica provides a unique introduction to Neotropical ornithology and birding. Two field trips will introduce the main bird groups present in Costa Rica, their behavior, and the skills needed to identify them.
This course is an introduction to the zoology of terrestrial vertebrates in Costa Rica. Students will gain knowledge of various biological characteristics of the groups of land chordates in the country. Costa Rica has an immensely rich animal biodiversity, with an influence of both North American and South American fauna, and is a world-renowned hot spot for animal research and conservation. Emphasis will be given to the study of Costa Rican species, but others will be discussed as well.
This combined lecture and field course will provide students with a general overview of tropical plants. Students will gain knowledge of basic botanical concepts and will explore a variety of ecosystems, their plants and the multiple and complex ecological interactions that can be found in these areas. Costa Rica is a tropical country with an immensely rich biodiversity, providing a very representative area for these studies. Emphasis will be given to the most common plant families in Costa Rica, but others will be discussed as well.
This course aims to highlight the importance of conservation biology in managing endangered marine species, emphasizing recent conservation efforts for umbrella species such as sea turtles and sharks in the Pacific waters bordering Costa Rica. Marine ecosystems of the eastern tropical Pacific provide a baseline for species of high commercial interest that meet the global demand for food. However, several marine species are threatened by unsustainable human activities such as overfishing and the destruction of habitat. We will develop a critical understanding of conservation biology, emphasizing the general concept of biodiversity and examining present-day case studies that focus on scientific investigations to answer critical aspects of the history of life, recovery programs, species management, community conservation and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Students will also be introduced to a wide range of practical activities by visiting field stations and “natural laboratories” throughout Costa Rica.
Water is a vital resource for human beings. It is also a limited one, which has suffered degradation, while demand is ever growing. Freshwater ecology, otherwise known as limnology, helps us to understand the physical, chemical and biological properties of inland aquatic environments (wetlands, lakes, rivers, mangroves and reservoirs). This course emphasizes the problems and conservation efforts related to water resources. Through field trips and laboratory work, students will learn methods for monitoring aquatic environments.
This course studies the balance between ecosystems and the human stress and demands that are placed on the constantly changing marine environment. All field trips are mandatory. For a $100 additional fee, certified divers may complete 2 immersions during each field trip (4 total).
This course examines agricultural and food systems from an ecological systems perspective. After establishing a foundation of basic ecological concepts (the relationships and interactions between the abiotic/non-living and biotic/living components of an ecosystem), we will investigate various applications of these concepts with agricultural systems. Consumption and production issues related to food system sustainability will be analyzed, and students will explore their own role in the food system. Field trips will provide opportunities for direct observation of (and interaction with) different approaches to food production and distribution in Costa Rica.
This course is an introduction to current world problems related to natural resource management and conservation, and their effects on sustainable development efforts in tropical countries. Current issues that impact the possibility for development, such as poverty, global warming, deforestation and access to potable water will be analyzed.
Climate change is dramatically affecting the future of our planet. In this course, students will learn about global climate changes and how these are impacting plant and animal populations, people, and ways of life. Emphasis is placed on learning and understanding the overwhelming evidence for human-induced climate change, and address its misconceptions. Students will also study how natural populations are affected by climate change, how can they adapt, and their likely future.
This course provides a chronological overview of the main inventions and other factors that influenced past and present architecture in Latin America, and analyzes the resulting artistic manifestations.
In this course, students will develop the skills needed to analyze a particular architectural problem and offer adequate design solutions that guarantee a high quality environment. It is offered to all students who wish to learn about tropical design. Previous knowledge of architecture, design projection and graphic expression is not required.
This course is designed to help the beginner student discover personal meaning in works of art, and develop a better understanding of the nature and validity of art as a visual and spatial language (line, shape, volume, light, space, time, motion, color and texture). Students will learn about the essential principles of art through experience and experimentation. If determined and open-minded, students will increase their creativity and discover more interesting ways to understand and evaluate the visual arts. Emphasis will be placed on the diversity of form and content in artwork. With the right attitude, class experiences will be positive and memorable. By the end of the course, students should feel comfortable with the art materials used, and have a basic overview of the history of art and how it represents its society, particularly in Latin America.
This studio art course introduces the theoretical and practical aspects of large-scale painting, murals and public art. The course includes a practicum using large-scale media. Students will also experiment with early and contemporary techniques such as drawings, fresco, paints, aerosol and various industrial materials. Students will develop an understanding of the social roles of art and the impact of murals to communities, based on both historical and contemporary applications. Students will learn to control scale, color, specific techniques and safety measures in public spaces. A Service Learning component will be incorporated, either by facilitating a workshop for children in a rural community or painting a collective mural as a donation to a community. A fine arts background will help students grasp the complexity of the final project; however, no previous painting experience is required.
This studio art course introduces the basic principles of drawing. Students will sketch models and landscapes and experiment with abstract techniques. The focus of this course is on the development of expression and observational drawing from still lifes, live models and landscapes.
Experimental Printmaking is a studio art course exploring contemporary possibilities within print media. Students will learn traditional printmaking processes, including relief and mono printing. They will also combine drawing, photography and found images through physical collages and layering, as well as digital imaging. We will use tools such as cameras, scanners and computers to produce a “dialogue” between the physical and textural qualities of materials and the malleability of the digital image. Students will have the opportunity to explore different surfaces, types of paper and spatial possibilities, combining and deconstructing images and ideas to produce new ones.
This course is for both beginners and experienced art students, and its structure allows for multiple backgrounds. It is open to all conceptual and creative interests, and is a great way to develop or continue a personal project through a range of different medias and processes. In group critiques and discussions, students will be encouraged to think conceptually about their work and that of others. The course will conclude with an exhibition at the university, which students will curate.
The course supplies the basics of Costa Rican cultural history and its links to processes such as nation building and politics in the first century, after the country’s independence from the Spanish empire. Students will also learn about the contextual framework needed to better comprehend the social representations and ideologies of Costa Rican art history. Ultimately, the course is designed to help students understand art as a social and political practice, and just one piece of a web of symbolic and cultural phenomena.
In this course, students will critically analyze audiovisual documentaries and explore film and photography mediums in both traditional and new media. Class time will include academic learning, viewing and discussion of material, practical exercises and written assignments.
This course explores the technique, rhythm and movement of Latin American tropical dance. History, anthropology, folklore, videos and songs will all play a role in this experiential course. Students will come away with a general understanding of the history and folklore of Latin American dance, and will become familiar with the basic rhythms of various Latin American countries.
This course provides general survey of the complex heritage and social evolution of Costa Rica, using a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach and focusing on the historical development and present day dynamics of economy, society, politics, natural resources and culture. Emphasis will be placed upon different topics throughout the course, based on participating students’ diverse backgrounds and expectations.
This course will examine a specific topic, theme or issue related to ethnically black communities in Costa Rica and Central America. Examples include:
- Central America and ethnic politics in history and culture
- Blacks in Central American governments
- Contemporary black literature
- History of the black experience in Costa Rica
The Performing Arts Production Workshop is a studio class in which participants explore —and practice— the distinctive components of the production, mounting and staging of an acted/choreographed/musicalized production. The Performing Arts Production Workshop gives participants a rare opportunity to develop their competencies for the performing arts. Our goal is to explore artistic risk-taking in an uplifting environment. The heart of the program is teaching young aspiring performers —and participants in general— how to deliver a performance that connects deeply and authentically with themselves and their audience.
This course provides an overview of the history and selected concepts of major eastern and western philosophical movements from ancient times to the middle ages. Students will reflect on topics such as the mind-body experience, the concept of God, knowledge of self and others, predestination versus free will, cause and effect, and other fundamental ideas found in classical knowledge.
In this course, students will gain a general understanding of the possibilities and stages of digital photography as applied to ecological exploration. Through practical exercises and field trips, students will gain the basic skills needed to consciously create and manipulate digital photographic images, while exploring Costa Rican ecological systems.
This course covers basic photography as a means of cultural exploration. Through practical exercises that apply the information covered in lectures, students can consciously explore Costa Rican culture through the creation of photographic images and essays, documenting aspects of Costa Rican Culture through portraiture and landscapes.
In this course, students will gain the technical knowledge and skills to capture and manipulate digital photographic images. Students must have a digital point and shoot or SLR camera and a basic understanding of Mac and Windows operating systems. Students will consciously apply the information provided in lectures through the creation and manipulation of digital photographic images.
This course introduces students to the richness, variety and ideology of Latin American literature, using a historical perspective to examine the social, cultural, and political contexts reflected in each work. We will begin with older texts, moving toward the most contemporary authors in order to provide a sound chronological backdrop for discussion and argumentation. Because the literary movements covered in this class are so closely tied to developments in other areas of artistic endeavor, we will also link the readings to additional art forms, particularly film.
This multicultural, gender sensitive course is designed for students who wish to learn strategies and techniques for transforming thought and behavior for the purpose of resolving conflict. The course focuses on techniques that bring about positively focused changes through consistent experiences in community building and self-improvement. The curriculum is based on the Alternatives to Violence Project, which began in New York State in the 1970s. For more than 20 years, CEPPA Foundation’s Center for Peace Studies has implemented this program in Switzerland, Costa Rica and other Latin American countries.
Using an interactive, participatory methodology, we will focus on themes such as self-esteem and self-care, communication skills, cooperation, community building and conflict resolution—including mediation, bias awareness and cultural diversity. Mandatory fieldwork sessions will be held at a local school, a communal group or penal institution.
This course addresses issues related to diversity and commonalities amongst human beings, and the implications and applications of each situation or professional context. Students will develop the skills needed for intercultural competence.
This course is intended to give students a critical perspective on Latin America. Even though, it is an undergraduate level, it is trying to take advantage of the fact that the students are in Latin America in order to get to know different standpoints on economic development and develop a critical viewpoint on media.
This is a course designed to give the student the concepts and tools for the understanding of the basic concepts regarding the Latin American social and economic history and present situation.
Its methodology is based on popular education theories (Freire), which promotes the construction of knowledge by the group and not the transmission of knowledge by a teacher. In this methodology, participation is basic for the development of the dynamic and it is evaluated with that consideration.
Each student is responsible to bring their research to class according to the topic referred for the session and the countries assigned to each student during the second session of the course.
This course provides an overview of the cultural environment of international business and the institutions that affect business in the modern world. We will examine business from the perspective of Latin America with regard to its interaction with the U.S., Asia and Europe, including NAFTA, Merco Sur, the EC and other common market areas.
In this course, students will gain an understanding of the impact of innovation and entrepreneurship on global and local economies, as well as the patterns of innovation and their impact on cultures and business environments. Classes will also include discussions and investigations around key elements of entrepreneurship, such as the stages of a business, funding sources, exit strategies and crucial skills for entrepreneurs.
This course provides students with the opportunity to learn and practice the skills required for managerial excellence. These include leadership, negotiation, conducting performance appraisals, delegation, effective communication, interviewing, making hiring decisions, and effective human resource management.
This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of international marketing—both its challenges and opportunities. Students enrolling in this course should be familiar with basic marketing terminology and have a basic/intermediate understanding of marketing concepts. We will examine the concepts of international marketing through the analysis of case studies, and will propose ideas through class assignments.
This course introduces the principal socio-economic and political features that have shaped and defined the history and development of Costa Rica.
This course provides a survey of the main events in Latin American history after its independence. Topics include the historical causes and effects of independence, social, economic and political issues, and key historical leaders in modern day Latin America.
This course will focus on the case of Costa Rica, giving students an opportunity to explore the development of human rights in the following areas: women’s rights, children’s rights, HIV/AIDS, the CAFTA agreement and labor rights, indigenous groups and human rights, disability and age issues, and the prison environment.
The objective of this course is to discuss with students the social, economic and political issues of the process of building peace and democracy in Costa Rica and Central America (1948-2005).
The course introduces students to the theories and practices of international human migration as a phenomenon that, while present throughout history, has particular emphasis in today’s world. With human ramifications, its strong societal effects are evident on both ends of the issue—the nations from which people leave, and the targeted destinations. We will review the phenomenon based on its most prominent manifestations: forced migrations, voluntary migrations and internal displacements of groupings of people, and the motivational underpinnings that provoke such drastic actions as the uprooting of home and family in pursuit of presumably better opportunities. Migration is perceived by peoples in despair as an alternative to heavily weighing social, political and/or economic conditions, even when factoring in risks such as personal safety and adaptation to an unknown culture. Within this framework, we will analyze issues such as return migrations, the effects of remittances, the formation of diaspora communities, and the myriad of problems brought about by cultural adaptation and assimilation.
The course will analyze aspects of economic integration, globalization and conditions needed for successful integration between economies, and the effects of free trade and protectionism in the region. Special focus will be given to foreign investments and joint ventures in Latin America.
Costa Rica’s health care system is unique in that it is socialized and ranks excellent in health indicators. The course focuses on the history and development of the public health care system within the context of the Costa Rican sociopolitical and economic situation. A strong emphasis is placed on how the system works, pointing out both its strong and weak points. An additional objective, of fundamental importance in understanding this system, is the study of Costa Rica as a tropical country, specifically the prevention and transmission of relevant tropical diseases.
This course introduces the basic concepts of human anatomy, the most common injuries and illnesses that require physical therapy, and the different tools and methods used to treat them. The course consists of theoretical lectures and laboratory practice, giving students a hands-on experience of the techniques provided in the lectures. By the end of the course, students will have a general knowledge of various specialty areas, as well as techniques such as massage therapy, electrotherapy and therapeutic exercise.
This course introduces the basic concepts of alternative medicine. We will also explore and evaluate alternative approaches and philosophies to personal health and wellness. Topics include: Homeopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Acupuncture, Herbal and Nutritional Therapies, Massage, Chiropractic Therapy, Electromagnetic Therapy, Breathing Exercise and others.
Health service delivery today encounters frequent conflicts, disputes and other difficult situations, many derived from larger changes occurring in health care systems around the world. These conflicts include differences due to multiculturalism; the appropriateness and quality of care; gender issues; power disputes; and arguments between providers and recipients over institutional and funding policies. The costs and effects of violence will be part of this course, particularly in regard to the WHO definition of health. Costa Rican health care systems will also be touched on.
This interactive, hands-on course offers a framework to integrate professional experience with functional communication and mediation skills. Students are encouraged to explore and develop their leadership on matters of public health. Mandatory fieldwork sessions will be conducted at a medical facility, community or school.
The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Based on this definition, the concepts of health and illness have changed. Today, health care professionals (doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, etc.) must have a bio-psycho-social approach to patient health. It is extremely important that they have a general understanding of health psychology, which studies how biology, behavior and social context influence health and illness. This provides a truly integrated approach to treating patients.
In this course, we will discuss some of the most common topics related to health psychology that are pertinent to the health care professions.
Spanish Taught Courses
This course introduces students to the field of psychology, and examines the influence of culture on human behavior and cognitive processes. “Culture” is defined as the shared norms, values and behaviors of groups, and of the individuals within those groups. We will focus on such topics as cultural factors in self-concept, gender roles, motivation, cognition, emotions, relationships and social values. Our exploration will be based on psychological theories, research, guest lecturers and field experiences.
In this course, the mentor will be based on the sequence book “habits: shaping the leadership habits and attitude of the image” to guide the team to discuss. In today’s society, students can not just seek to survive in school. If campus life is to prepare students to meet the unknown future, they must learn to lead. This means that they must first lead themselves, in the field of their interest, such as the leader of the general thinking. Over the past six years, the “Leadership Growth” program of the Higher Education Institute, sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation, has conducted a survey of thousands of students from the new millennium. We will also study the development of student leadership in-depth study.
This course provides students with a panoramic view of the influence of gods and religions on Latin America. The Latin American region represents one of the richest religions in the world, and runs through the entire Latin American continent, including Brazilian Budu to teach emerging Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
The region also has a significant impact on sustainable development and ecological thinking. We will review the Latin American region’s successful combination of religion and sustainable development and the most influential thinkers, such as Leonardo Boff. The course also covers historical analyzes of various tendencies and the impact of various tendencies on cultural, social and political aspects of Latin America.
In this course, we will study the world’s major religions: Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. We will discuss the following questions: What is the core belief? Is there a future? What is the expectation of religious believers?
Each religion represents the people of God, and understanding the different worldviews of religion will help us to better respect and love religion.
This course provides students with an opportunity to analyze the dynamic process of ecotourism in Costa Rica from various socioeconomic perspectives. It will discuss the economic importance of ecotourism for the national economy, the stimulation of grassroots, community ecotourism projects, and the role of ecotourism in securing environmental protection. The advancements and limitations of ecotourism will also be explored.
In this course, students will learn about the relationships that ancient civilizations of Egypt, China, Mesopotamia, India, Greece, Rome, the Celts and Pre-Colombian America had with their environment. Students will explore how these cultures interacted with nature and its resources, such as land, forests, water and minerals. By the end of the course, they will be able to identify the main characteristics that allow civilizations to create a sustainable relationship with their surrounding habitat. This historical overview will allow students to compare and contrast our present day societies with the ancient world.
Sustainable consumption (SC) and production is a holistic approach to minimizing the negative environmental impacts from consumption and production systems while promoting quality of life for all.This course will help students acquire the knowledge, capacities and values to help them contribute to shaping a better tomorrow as more responsible consumers. It will trace the history and the justification for the focus on sustainable consumption.The educational content will be provided through an examination of value systems and the life-cycle assessment of selected consumer items involving their economic, environmental and social aspects, the latter involving an introduction to product responsibility, labor practices, human rights and societal perspectives. These items will be chosen for their social, environmental and economic relevance and potential for critical reflection at different levels using an integrated, holistic framework to facilitate a clear understanding of impacts at local and global levels.
POL 3420: Costa Rican Environmental Policy: A History of Policy, Politics and Action, 4 credits (60 hours)
In this course, we will explore the dynamics of environmental management, history, policy, politics and ACTION in Costa Rica and beyond. We will study environmental history and policy at a regional and national level, and will explore the emergence of Costa Rica’s cutting edge environmental politics and government commitments (the greening of the public sector, carbon neutrality and others). We will look back at Costa Rica’s conservation history and critically review its sustainable development model, and will explore the “state of the nation and region” in regard to environmental indicators (land use methods and statistics, deforestation and reforestation data, contamination and waste indicators). We will identify the individuals and organizations taking authentic action in environmental protection, and will take a close look at how government policy translates into practice by reviewing case studies of community and grassroots action in forestry, organic farming, recycling, cooperatives and women’s environmental groups. Lastly, we will address some of central issues and challenges facing these activities and the resulting environmental conflicts.
This course will study the LGBTQ+ community and related social issues within the Latin American context. Special attention will be given to the case of Costa Rica, regarding which sexuality, identity, expression, health, community, family, and other social, political and lifestyle issues will be discussed. One of the first of its kind in the region, and a pioneer offer for study abroad students in the Costa Rican setting, this course offers students a unique opportunity to study Latin American LGBTQ+ dynamics and issues. This is a young, but growing field of study in Latin America, and certainly one that deserves much attention, especially as the region is home to some of the most homophobic countries in the world, while also experiencing radical changes in terms of acceptance of the complete spectrum of sexuality and identity. This course has three main objectives: 1) explore LGBTQ+ issues in the Latin American community; 2) gain an appreciation for how particular countries are advancing in relation to legal equality, while studying the social groups who are pushing for change; and 3) critically assess present day contexts that are struggling with recently developed anti-discriminatory frameworks.
This course builds upon the results of the Global Survey on Sustainable Lifestyles (GSSL), established in the 2011 document Visions for Change: Recommendations for Effective Policies on Sustainable Lifestyles, which incorporates the voices of 8,000 young adults from 20 different countries. With half the world’s population under 30 years of age, Visions for Change stresses the importance of listening to youth and provides valuable insight into how to build sustainable lifestyles (SLs) with a youth-centered focus.
Sustainable lifestyles, which promote sustainable patterns of consumption and production, represent an essential component of sustainable development. In September of 2015, the United Nations General Assembly approved the post-2015 development agenda Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity over the next 15 years, and includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that provide a holistic framework and the basis for the development of SLs.
The main objective of the course is designed to give youth a voice and work together to better understand and educate young adults, therefore empowering them to create their own positive versions of SLs and become agents of change.
This course will study the intersection between gender, socio-economic discrimination and sustainable development. We will discuss numerous topics, including women and natural resources, women and forests, women’s role in conservation, women and land use/agriculture, rural women, women and the built environment, women and environmental policy, women in relation to poverty, disaster risk and mitigation, adaption for climate change, female civil society and political actors pushing for change, women in the environment, and sustainable innovations. These issues will be explored in the context of Latin America and the Caribbean, with special emphasis on the Costa Rican context where possible. Students will be encouraged to compare the region with experiences in their home land, and will be strongly encouraged to critically assess advancements and challenges—and propose solutions. We will work with local women in the community and gain hand-on practical experience during farm and forest project work. Student’s will conduct surveys, develop in research projects and participate in two field trips to help them better understand the dynamics and complexities of gender and sustainable development. The issue of gender will be thoroughly introduced, including gender dynamics and gender-related policy. There will be a special emphasis on the situation of Latin American and Caribbean women, the environment, and sustainable development; however, this course aims to be inclusive, and recognizes that there are many gender identities, and that gender issues touch all of our lives. Throughout the course, students are welcome to participate and study the environment and sustainable development from the perspective of any and all gender identities, becoming active participants in the unravelling and improvement of sustainable development itself.