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Offerings: Summer 2013
Course Fee

Sustainable Energy Systems
Summer Short Course: 2 - 11 June, 2013
Open to students from ANY campus, and non-students.


Wind Farm

One of the scheduled field sites:

The largest wind farm in Costa Rica


Top of page

An interdisciplinary analysis of sustainable energy systems including environmental, social, political, and economic considerations. Special emphasis on public, private, educational, and community renewable energy initiatives in Costa Rica. Will include lectures from local experts; group discussions; solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydroelectric field site visits; and a hands-on community activity in renewable energy. Prerequisites for participation are primarily personal in nature: A sincere desire for self-reflection and interested in contributing to a safe and supportive experience for all (also see 'general requirements'). The course will be facilitated in English, with translations as needed. No Spanish is required, and academic credit is available (see below).


Learning about photovoltaics
at a local field site


Top of page Itinerary
The course will begin with three days in and around the capital city of San José where we will hear from local experts, visit various field sites, and discuss the foundations of energy, environment and society. We will then depart for the Northwest province of Guanacaste where we will visit a variety of renewable energy sites: Biomass, geothermal, solar, hydroelectric and wind. One of our locations will provide an opportunity to enjoy geothermal hot springs (included in the course fee), and from another we will visit a nearby beach. Likely field sites include a small-scale energy demonstration facility (wind, hydroelectric, and biogas digester), solar energy laboratory, sugar cane ethanol and bagasse electricity production facility, geothermal power plant, solar photovoltaic grid-intertie system, and a large-scale wind farm and hydroelectric plant. Finally, we will visit a community-level solar thermal energy project where we will have an opportunity to get hands-on experience building a solar cooker or dehydrator. Please note that although we will not be doing strenuous exercise, participants should be prepared for tropical environments, and have required field study items with them at all times. Housing conditions will consist of middle-range hotels and lodges. Participants will also have a limited amount of personal time. The course will be facilitated by Earth Education International staff and visiting faculty from partner institutions.
NOTE: See selected postings, photos & video from past field sites in the MediaBlog.
For additional information on the locations, see the links page.

Top of page Participant Preparations
This section is provided to assist in preparing you for this course. Properly preparing yourself will allow you to get the most out of the experience, and allow us to facilitate a safe and enjoyable learning experience for all. Thus, please review the following information and appropriate links to other sections of this web site:

1. General Information
A wealth of information is available on this web site in order to assist you in preparing. The table of contents for this information is on the Participants page. In particular, the In-Country Information page includes information on what things cost in Costa Rica, local foods, banking, shopping, relevant Spanish vocabulary, and the like. Links to additional information about the country are also provided for your convenience. We highly recommend that you peruse that information as appropriate to acquaint yourself with conditions in Costa Rica, well before departure. This will allow you to get the most out of your time here.


Past group constructing a solar cooker
in a local community


2. What to Bring
Detailed general information on what to bring on your trip can be found in the packing section of the 'Preparation' page. There you will find lists of appropriate items to bring, as well as recommendations for packing & traveling. PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO SECTION B: REQUIRED FIELD STUDY ITEMS. For both logistical and safety reasons each participant will be expected to have those required items with them upon arrival.

3. Program Policies
Please review the program policies section in detail. You will be held accountable to those policies during your visit, and required to sign a form agreeing to them upon your arrival.

4. Arrival in Costa Rica
We will meet you at San José international airport (SJO) upon arrival for group transport to our hotel. Because you will be making your own international flight arrangements, it is necessary to coordinate arrival and departure dates/times. Thus, if you would like us to pick you up and drop you off at the airport, YOUR FLIGHT MUST ARRIVE (OR YOU MUST MEET US AT THE AIRPORT) ON THE FIRST DESIGNATED DAY OF THE COURSE BY APPROXIMATELY 1PM. The same applies to flight departures, which must be no earlier than approximately 1pm on the last designated day of the program. Alternatively, upon arrival you will need to arrange your own transportation from the airport. For both safety and logistical reasons, late or night arrivals should be avoided. Please also keep in mind that orientation will begin the first afternoon of the course, after arrival, so a late arrival may also interfere with that activity.

5. Meeting at the Airport
Because the exit from the airport can be hectic at times, it can be difficult to find each other upon arrival. Thus, when you exit from the terminal, turn immediately to your RIGHT, and walk down the sidewalk past the pay phones, benches, and glass doors to the 'Malinche' restaurant. We will meet you there. To assist with identification, see Dr. Karian's picture here. In case of any problems, difficulties or delays, we can be reached on our cell phone at 8812-7766 (preceded by 011-506 from the U.S.A.). If necessary, this can be dialed from a courtesy phone at one of the rental car agencies inside the airport PRIOR to exiting. NOTE: You cannot re-enter the airport once you have exited for any reason.

Top of page Course Fee
Participants pay a comprehensive fee for the course (see costs) in the amount of $2,200 USD. The fee includes most in-country expenses associated with the program, including the following:


- All in-country transportation, including airport pickup & drop-off
- All lodging costs throughout the course (three different locations)
- Entrance fees, translation, & accompaniment for all field study
- Travel & medical insurance (by reimbursement, with a deductible)
- Personalized pre-departure planning & advising
- Computer & internet access at most hotels
- Some meals during field study travel (1+ meals per day)
- In-country orientation & cultural activities
- Local personal, logistical & emergency support
- Entrance & transport to recreational sites (e.g., waterfall, hot springs, beach)
- Additional volunteer opportunities
- Written course materials

Participants are responsible for purchasing international airfare, some meals during program travel, and any personal expenses or travel not associated with the program. Participants may also wish to acquire extra health insurance (above & beyond what is included). For most participants, personal costs average approximately $75/week. Scholarship money is available from other organizations that specialize in funding study abroad (see costs), and most financial aid can be applied to offset program fees.

Academic Credit (optional)
Three (3) units of academic credit are available from the University of San José in Costa Rica as CB 120 (Interacción Técnica-Ciencia Sociedad) for an additional cost of $300. As with all EEI offerings, current students must have a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 in order to participate. The course syllabus is available here (pdf Adobe Acrobat file).

Top of page Application
Application for this course is to be made directly to EEI. See the 'Admission' page for details. Please note the application deadline of 1 March, 2013.

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