Ecotourism: The Costa Rica Case

Universidad Veritas

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Ecotourism: The Costa Rica Case

  • Host University

    Universidad Veritas

  • Location

    San José, Costa Rica

  • Area of Study

    Ecology, Economics, Environmental Studies, Sociology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course name: Ecotourism: The Costa Rican case
    Course code: GEB 3500
    Total contact hours: 60 hours
    This course will provide the students with an introduction to Costa Rican ecotourism. It will offer the chance to analyze this dynamic process from different socio-economic perspectives. It will discuss the economic importance of ecotourism for the Costa Rican national economy, the stimulation of grassroots, community ecotourism projects, and the role of ecotourism in securing environmental protection. The advances and limitations of ecotourism will be explored. Students will be encouraged to develop their own conclusions about how ecotourism can help to secure economic, environmental and participatory alternatives in order to advance the Costa Rican sustainable development process.
    - The study of the Costa Rica's ecotourism process: past, present and future trends
    - The study of ecotourism within the Costa Rica context: Its characteristic, market share and positioning.
    - The analysis of Costa Rica's ecotourism by Provinces.
    - The Social and economic impact of the Ecotourism activity in Costa Rica.
    - The study of the private ecotourism sector and its relationship with Costa Rica Public sector: ICT, CANAECO, CANATOUR.
    - Costa Rica's Ecotourism development as compare to other Latin America's Ecotourism development.
    PART ONE: Building the case for ecotourism: Definitions, history, and the context of ecotourism in Costa Rica.
    PART TWO: Costa Rica's policy framework and institutional commitment to ecotourism. The development of ecotourism in the regional and national setting.
    PART THREE: Costa Rica's ecotourism sector. Projects and case studies explored.
    PART ONE: Building the case for ecotourism: Definitions, history, and the context of ecotourism.
    Session 1:
    Introduction and main issues
    Introduction of course / explain syllabus / evaluation system.
    Introduction to main issues.
    Students invited to talk about interests and ideas about ecotourism.
    Session 2:
    Defining Ecotourism
    Definitions of tourism
    Definitions of nature tourism.
    Ecotourism defined
    Session 3:
    The Costa Rican setting
    Introduction to the Costa Rican environment and society.
    Political, ecological, demographic, geographic and social features considered.
    Session 4:
    History and development of Ecotourism in Costa Rica: Socio-economic development context.
    Main features of Costa Rica?s recent socio-economic development model.
    Critique of socio-economic development model.
    Building the case for sustainability.
    Students hand in research project question /presentation of research project ideas.
    Session 5:
    Environmental impacts of development
    Major environmental impacts of development explored.
    Deforestation, contamination, soil erosion.
    Environmental impacts of Costa Rica?s main industries (cattle, coffee and banana industries).
    Session 6
    Social impacts of development
    Social impacts of Costa Rica?s socio-economic trends.
    Costa Rica?s social indicators explored, poverty, health, employment.
    Impacts of Costa Rica?s tourist industry. (Social and environmental considerations)
    Session 7:
    Student Seminar 1
    Students research an area / issue from the first part of the course.
    Students present research issue and lead discussion.
    PART TWO: Costa Rica?s policy framework and institutional commitment to ecotourism. The development of ecotourism in the regional and national setting.
    Session 8:
    Costa Rica?s conservation process.
    History and development of Costa Rica?s conservation process.
    Critique of conservation process.
    Session 9:
    A history of Costa Rica?s sustainable development process.
    Development of Costa Rica?s sustainable development process.
    Development of ecotourism.
    National legal and policy framework.
    Session 10:
    The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.
    Regional and national efforts to secure a policy framework for ecotourism.
    Case study of MBC
    Session 11:
    Ecotourism and economics
    Economic considerations and models considered.
    Session 12:
    Student Seminar 2
    Students research an area / issue from the second part of the course.
    Students present research and lead discussion.
    Session 13:
    Exam 4
    PART THREE: Costa Rica?s Ecotourism sector. Projects and case studies explored.
    Session 14
    Manuel Antonio- Quepos National Park.
    Weekend Field Trip: Manuel Antonio- Quepos National Park
    Chance for students to understand local dynamics of ecotourism projects.
    Chance to interview people involved in Costa Rica?s ecotourism sector.
    Session 15
    Field trip follow up session
    Space to discuss main issues and share experiences from field trip.
    Session 16
    Case studies:Guanacaste and the Four Seasons Hotel. (mainstream tourism verses ecotourism)
    Session 17:
    Ecotourism /gender issues - Case studies:
    Quepos / ASOMUFAQC
    Sustainable tourism.
    Session 18
    Research session
    Weekend - Field Trip: Ricon de la Vieja. Guanacaste.
    Chance for students to understand local dynamics of ecotourism projects.
    Chance to interview people involved in Costa Rica?s ecotourism sector.
    Session 19
    Field trip follow up session
    Space to discuss main issues and share experiences from field trip.
    Session 20
    Conclusions and Recommendations
    Conclusions / recent developments / future approaches recommended and considered.
    Session 21, 22 and 23.
    Research reports: Students present their research project findings.
    Seccion 24
    Feed back from students and professor´s evaluation.
    We will attempt to follow the pedagogical methodology in the PAULO FREIRE sensu, mainly by means of the dialogue. This means any subject will be presented using handout materials, and eventually questions will be asked prompting and motivating participation. Also, some videos will be used in an interactive way. It will be necessary to read some papers or chapters of books. It is expected that students will participate actively through questions, answers or comments during the classes. Students will learn by:
    - Active participation doing research in an interesting subject.
    - Observation and analytical discussion of videos.
    - Participating in field trips like those to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. On site practicing exercises will allow students open their minds for a better and deeper understanding of Costa Rica ecotourism development.
    There is a mainframe timetable with subjects for 60-68 hrs, as a 4 credits elective course. This timetable is given during first week of classes, after obtaining student's expectations. Two weekend field trips will be done, and each one will have its own developed syllabus and program according certain pre-determined aims in class.
    This course is structured for International Students attending the Study Abroad program at Universidad Veritas. However, courses are not exclusive to foreigners so a few native student could enroll in this course.
    Students are only allowed 2 absences (justified or not). The student will fail the course if he/she has more than 2 absences. Students will have a 0 on any assignment evaluated in class (presentations, evaluations, field trips, etc.) if he/she is absent in this class, unless an official document is presented to justify the absence the class after the absence. In this case the assignment will be done this day. An unjustified absence to a fieldtrip will immediately mean failing the course. You can only have two total absences in your elective courses HOWEVER, if you miss more than one day of class in a given month, YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE CREDIT for that particular course.
    Behavior Code
    Professors have the right to expel a student from the classroom should he / she:
    be disruptive in the classroom
    be under the influence of alcohol or even smell like alcohol
    Behave in a disrespectful way.
    If you tend to be late for class, you will lose 25% of your total grade
    Participation: 10% .
    Class readings: 10%.
    Student Seminar: 15%.
    Exam: 15%.
    Research report: 30%.
    Research presentation: 20%.
    - Aylward et al (1995) Sustainable ecotourism in Costa Rica: the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. Biodiversity and Conservation 5, 315-343 (1996).
    - Chapman and Hall. IIED, San Jose. 6
    - Coates.A. (1997) Central America: A Natural and Cultural History. Yale University Press, USA.
    - Eckstein and Wickham-Crowley (eds) (2003) Struggles for Social Rights in Latin America. Routledge, London.
    - Harrison,D. (1992) Tourism and the Less Developed Countries. Wiley Press, London. McIntyre. G. (1995) Sustainable Tourism Development Guide for Local Planners. WTO. Miller, Chang, Johnson, (2001). Defining Common Ground. Published by the WRI. Mowforth.M. Ecotourism in Central America: Practice and Potential. Series No 4.1993. University of Plymouth, Research Paper. Pearce. D. (1996)
    - Blueprint 4 Capturing Global Environmental Value. Earthscan Publications, London. Roberts and Thanos (2003) Trouble in Paradise: Globalisation and Environmental Crisis in Latin America. London, Routledge.
    - Vandermeer.J. and Perfecto.I. (1995) Breakfast of Biodiversity:

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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