This course introduces students to the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Bocas del Toro and the challenges presented by a growing reliance on tourism for economic development. Students assess the impact of tourism on the natural environment, including cultural, economic, and political dimensions. Students gain an understanding of the challenges of developing environmental policies that effectively conserve the region’s natural resources while providing economic sustainability for local communities.
Recognize the major forms and incentives of tourism in Bocas del Toro and identify key issues
Snorkel on the archipelago’s coral reefs, mangrove cays, and seagrass meadows to evaluate the health of local marine habitats
Practice environmental assessment techniques to identify drivers of human-induced stress in natural systems
Visit national parks in the archipelago to determine how tourism can support protected areas
Compare ecotourism lodges with large-scale resort hotels and assess their impacts on social, economic, and environmental systems
Explore lowland humid rainforests to understand terrestrial biodiversity
Perform cost-benefit analyses on tourist activities and identify the positive and negative effects on natural systems and livelihoods in the archipelago
Draft model plans for optimizing sustainable tourism in Bocas del Toro
This summer course can be taken individually (4 credits) or in combination with Session II: Applied Research Techniques & Strategies Toward Sustainability in Costa Rica (8 credits). The combined summer program provides a thorough introduction to environmental management, tourism, and sustainable development in tropical ecosystems.