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  • Locations: La Fortuna, Costa Rica; Monteverde, Costa Rica; San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Program Terms: Fall Break
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Restrictions: U of U applicants only
  • Budget Sheets: Spring Break
  • Courses Offered
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Program Start Date Program End Date
Fall Break 2021 06/01/2021 06/08/2021 TBA TBA
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Program Type: Faculty-Led Click here for a definition of this term Minimum GPA: 2.5
Click here for a definition of this term Housing Type(s): Homestay Click here for a definition of this term Home Campus: Non-U of U, U of U: Utah Campus
Click here for a definition of this term Credit Type: Graduate U of U, Undergraduate U of U Click here for a definition of this term Language(s) of Instruction: English
Click here for a definition of this term Minimum Language Prerequisite: Advanced English Language Fluency, No Host Language Click here for a definition of this term Badge Opportunities: Career Development, Community Engagement
Click here for a definition of this term Field of Study: Anthropology, Economics, Envrionmental & Sustainablility Studies, International Studies, Parks, Recreation, & Tourism, Political Science, Public Administration, Public Policy, Sociology, Urban Ecology Click here for a definition of this term Eligibility: Course Prerequisite(s), Good Academic & Judicial Standing, Minimum Age: 18
Click here for a definition of this term Pre-departure Requirements: Learning Abroad 101, Pre-Departure Orientation, Participation Requirements for Learning Abroad, Post-Decision Health Assessment, Pre & Post Commitments
Program Description:

Community Engagement in CR Rib
DESCRIPTIONSB16 Costa Rica Community

We anticipate running this program in Fall 2021. Check back in later for more details!

This is a learning abroad course that uses community engaged-learning (CEL) to explore the power of community engagement in an international context.  We will utilize the history, culture, and civic issues affecting Monteverde, Costa Rica, as a living laboratory.  The course is composed of weekly on-campus classes and a one week intensive in-country experience in Costa Rica over spring break in March.  The course is the result of collaborative efforts between The Lowell Bennion Community Service Center, Learning Abroad, the Departments of Political Science, Undergraduate Studies, and the Monteverde Institute. 
Central to Community Engagement in Costa Rica is the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of community-based experiential learning. We will consider and discuss civic leadership, community health, systems ecology, and collective impact to better understand how the activities and impacts of traveling and tourism affect quality of life, culture, and community in a Central American country.

Students will learn from first hand experiences that highlight:
  • the role of women in development
  • fair trade agriculture
  • eco-tourism
  • sustainable development
  • conservation biology
  • cooperative business management
  • micro-enterprise


  • Available credit(s): 3 credits
  • Applicants are required to enroll in the program course
  • Click on the Courses Offered link above for more information, including prerequisites
  • 2020 class meets every Wednesday from January 8 - March 4 from 4:30pm-6pm until Spring Break when the class will travel to Costa Rica for one-week intensive community engaged learning and adventure. The travel and experiential learning component will include several community activities, projects, and excursions.


Possible excursions may include:
  • Cloud forest and continental divide
  • Urban community development
  • Canopy tour
  • Fair trade coffee and mixed farms
  • Women's arts & crafts cooperative
  • 100% post-consumer waste paper product micro-business and more


In addition to taking classes, students enrich their time abroad by participating in Learning Abroad Badge opportunities such as, Career Development, Language Immersion, Research Experience, and Community Engagement:
Badge Opportunities
The Learning Abroad Badges listed in the Fact Sheet above are included in this program. Some programs offer opportunities to earn additional Learning Abroad Badges through independent options.  Students interested in earning multiple Learning Abroad Badges can participate in the Global U Program and receive special recognition at graduation.

This program automatically earns the Career Development and Community Engagement Badges: 
  • Career Development:
    • Students work, observe and network with community leaders and volunteers, while implementing initiatives with the host community.  
    • This experience will provide valuable, comparative and practical insights into community development, international relations, and public administration that can be highlighted on resumes and during job interviews.
  • Community Engagement:
    • As part of the program, students work with a grassroots association that addresses community development in the region.  Past work projects have involved elementary schools, health centers, community centers, road and water infrastructure, and small collective business feasibility studies.  
    • Students will  interact with local leaders and volunteers while learning unique ways of addressing common challenges.


  • Dean McGovern 
    • Executive Director, Bennion Center
    • Associate Professor, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences


  • See Housing Type(s) above
  • Participants are required to use the program housing facilities
  • Housing is included in the program cost


  • Click on the Budget Sheet link above for information about ESTIMATED costs
  • Participants should read the full Withdrawal Penalty Policy BEFORE applying
  • Scholarships are available for Degree-Seeking, University of Utah students
  • Financial Aid might apply, visit your Financial Aid Counselor for more information


The Learning Abroad Handbook outlines the University of Utah's eligibility requirements, financial policies, conduct standards, administrative procedures, academic expectations, as well as visa and passport guidelines for Learning Abroad Programs. ALL participants are subject to the rules and regulations in the Learning Abroad Handbook. It is every participant's responsibility to read the Learning Abroad Handbook and contact Learning Abroad with any questions.

Program Ratings:
1 2 3 4
Course quality:
1 2 3 4 5
Cost value:
1 2 3 4
Overall experience:
1 2 3 4 5
Level of cultural immersion:
1 2 3 4 5
Program Reviews:
Spring Break 2019 Participant
The one thing that I was unsure about in this program was the home stay aspect. However, after going on the trip and experiencing it, the home stay portion was probably my favorite part.

NIKOLINA PEHAR, Spring Break 2018 Participant
The community engagement program in Costa Rica was unlike anything else I've ever experienced. Culture shock took over but immediately eased within the kindness of the Ticos - everyone is nice, accommodating and willing to help. The sustainability efforts by everyone within Monteverde was unreal; the entire community was committed to making everything sustainable and was committed to creating a better environment for future generations. The homestay families become your own family and treat you as if you belong. The community built within the class is also another thing worth mentioning. The bond that we created during the week long stay is something I won't ever forget. Overall, I would highly recommend this program to anyone looking to change their lives forever.

EMMA ROBERTS, Spring Break 2018 Participant
You will be in situations where you are basically required to speak Spanish. We stayed with homestays, which was very rewarding, but many of them do not speak any English. Be prepared for that.

JOSEPH HALLMAN, Spring Break 2019 Participant
This program was perfect. I honestly at first did not know what to expect from taking this class and I did not know what I was getting myself into. I am so glad I chose this program because not only did we learn a lot and get more involved with the local community and the Costa Rican community, we were able to have a lot of fun. The teacher was very organized and our group leader in Costa Rica went out of his way to make sure we were taken care of and treated very well. You will not regret choosing this program. It was a BLAST!