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Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies in Panama

  • City: Isla Colón, Bocas del Toro Archipelago
  • Term: Fall, Winter, Summer
  • Instruction in: English
  • Requirements: Semester: One college-level Ecology, Biology, or Environmental Studies/Science course; Summer: No academic prerequisites
  • Students interested in: Biology, Earth and Environmental Sciences; EEB, Environment, Oceanography, Sustainability

  • Internship Available

Semester: In this 15-week program, students will explore and learn about thriving underwater and rainforest ecosystems while studying the impact of tourism and development on the Caribbean island’s unique habitats. They will evaluate local environmental policies and apply the principles of sustainability and conservation to a research project. Students can take up to 18 credits in courses such as Language, Culture, and Society of Panama; Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values; Principles of Resource Management, Tropical Coastal Ecology, and Directed Research.

Summer: For 4 weeks, students will be immersed in the dynamic community of Bocas del Toro. They will participate in a 4-credit course entitled Tourism and Island Systems: Assessment of Sustainable Practices. They will snorkel and hike through diverse environments - from coral reefs and mangroves to cloud forests and rainforests - and study the impacts of tourism on the island system and its people. Students will also meet local residents who depend on both tourism and natural resources and will learn about current approaches to sustainable tourism in the area.

Note that swimming is a central part of the program. Students with minimal experience in swimming should contact the program admissions team. Frequent boat travel is a main part of the program as well and seasickness may occur.