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2013 Costa Rica Program spreads wings outside of classroom

Published: September 30th, 2013

Category: News

Special to FlaLaw


Fording rivers was standard procedure on the three-day hike. (Photo courtesy of Tom Ankersen)

The UF Law Costa Rica Program continued to move further out of the classroom and into the field this past summer.

Eight U.S. students, five Ticos (Costa Rican law students) and four faculty members experienced international and comparative environmental law from the venues where it plays out. Classroom lectures, issue-based field trips and collaboratively developed practicums explored the tension between clean energy and nature-based tourism; agro-environmental subsidies and free trade; protected areas management and illicit poaching; and grievance redress mechanisms and international financial institutions.

In 2013, classroom instruction at the University of Costa Rica Law School led up to end of the week field trips, which included whitewater rafting on the Pacuare River and sea turtle tagging on the remote black sand Caribbean beaches of  Tortuguero National Park.

This year the program created a new field trip – a three-day, 30-kilometer off-road hike – through some of the most pristine tropical forests left in the country. Faculty and students accompanied guides and researchers from the Costa Rica-based Tropical Science Center on a slippery, mountainous bushwhack that began high in the Monteverde Cloud Forest and culminated in the lowland rainforest surrounding Lake Arenal.

The program is set to expand upon the 2013 program’s emphasis on the integration of lectures, collaborative problem-solving and issue-based field trips.


Students and faculty enjoy dinner at Eladio’s cabin, the halfway point on the three-day hike, Monteverde – Pocosol “Caminata.” (Photo courtesy of Tom Ankersen)

Chris Johns (2L) credited the program for enriching law school and personal experience.

“My trip to Costa Rica was one of the most memorable trips I’ve taken,” Johns said. “Hiking across the Monteverde cloud forest was an experience that I will never be able to replicate and I will remember forever. In addition, I was able to get practical work experience that I wouldn’t be able to get through other avenues of summer employment. Overall I found the program to be a great value and I wish I could do it again.”

Elizabeth Turner (2L) echoed Johns’ sentiments.

“Going to Costa Rica was the best thing I did my first year. I got both course credit and real-world experience working with clients in perhaps a more influential way than had I been in an office. Plus, I got to experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, like the 20-mile jungle from Jurassic Park hike across Monteverde.”

An informational meeting on the 2014 program will be held Oct. 9 from noon to 1 p.m. in HOL 270. In the meantime students should feel free to contact Tom Ankersen the program director, or Michelle Ocepek, who coordinates the study abroad program.




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