Tropical Geography Study Abroad

Next Trip Planning is Under Way for Summer 2016

Interactive Storymap:

Imagine a place where the biodiversity of two continents converge and comingle, where some of the world’s most active volcanoes stir, where “El clima mejor del mundo” (Best climate in the world) supports thriving tropical fruit crops and coffee, and where Pacific and Caribbean swells attract surfers- and snorkelers and SCUBA divers flocking. The history of Costa Rica (the “Rich Coast”) is unique and forged a people with a distinct outlook and identity, with many twists and turns in this small nation renowned as the “Switzerland of Central America.” Costa Rica is ironically not “rich” in gold, but in its people and its environmental ethic there runs a strong, green pulse. If you are open to adventure, to exploring cultures, to looking past the fast food culture and taking back roads, and to discovering the environmental ethos on which much of Costa Rica thrives, then you may be taking your first steps to learning the way of Pura Vida

Drs. Tom Allen and Beth Bee from the East Carolina University Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, aim to lead a trip to Costa Rica in early summer 2016.  Allen has led the course to Costa Rica twice (once with Dr. Holly Hapke) and traveled to the country more than a dozen times. With experienced Tico guides, medical and language support, we undertake adventures (aventuras) that educate, challenge, and complement our individual investigations and subject matter expertise.


Our program strives to be affordable and academically rigorous. A limited number of study abroad scholarships are also available to subsidize student participation. Please see the Office of Study Abroad for details on scholarships available and assistance obtaining financial aid. In addition, for geography department majors, there is also a special fund available. See the department website, your advisor or Dr. Allen (contact below.)

The objectives of the program are to raise students’ awareness of tropical geography, environments, and economies and to provide hands-on field time to examine interactions within a diverse landscape (ecological, environmental, economic and cultural), and to promote international awareness of Central America among students. In addition, our time in the field amounts to a geographic foray across gradients of climate, landform, ecology, and culture, providing for integrative analysis and discussion among our multidisciplinary group.

The Courses:

Up to six credits are offered in this program.
GEOG 5283/6293Selected Topics in Physical Geography: Two foci of this course are: 1) Tropical physical geography (especially biogeography and coastal geography) of Costa Rica, including biomes, ecosystems, ecological niches, species interactions, altitudinal gradients and zonation, human impacts on the environment, and environmental management, and 2) Natural hazards of Costa Rica, emphasizing volcanic and coastal hazards (soil and beach erosion, tsunamis, deforestation and slope failures, and feedbacks between hazards, development, and environment.)

GEOG 5393/6393Seminar in Human Geography: Explores the themes of tropical economy, sustainable development, and environmental preservation, focusing on a) tropical agricultural production modes, environmental impacts and organic agro-tourism; and b) ecotourism and Costa Rica’s renowned national parks and preserves system.

More Information
You can contact the ECU Office of Study Abroad for more information on the next offering of Aventura Costa Rica: Tropical Geography
here ECU Office of Education Abroad
Contact Drs. Beth Bee ( or Tom Allen (, ECU Department of Geography, Planning & Environment
tel.: +1-252-328-6624

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