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Academic Program

The Costa Rica Center hosts all freshman students of LIU Global as well as some visiting study-abroad students. The freshman year provides students with an introduction to experiential education and research methods, college writing, Latin American studies, and global studies. In addition to attending regularly scheduled seminars and intensive Spanish language classes, students learn how to plan, evaluate, and document their field work with the support and guidance of faculty members based at the Costa Rica Center in Heredia.

Students develop cross-cultural competency through their interaction with the local population in Costa Rica through homestays, service learning, field trips, and field research. During excursions to different communities in Costa Rica as well as to other countries in the region such as Panama and Nicaragua, students explore the tension between environmental and economic issues and begin to understand how individuals at the local level are affected by decisions made at the global level.  (For more information about the field trips, see Field Trips & Independent Travel).

During the fall semester, students take the following courses: Foundation Year Orientation Seminar; Latin American Studies; Writing, Research and Documentation; Global Environmental Issues in Latin America and Spanish to earn 16 credits.

And in the spring semester, students take Introduction to Global Studies, Spanish, Field Work and Methods Seminar (which includes a two-week independent field work project), and may choose between Writing the College Essay and Contemporary World Fiction, and between Contemporary Indigenous Peoples in Latin America and another elective course.

Previous students have used independent study projects to explore comparative political systems, environmental sustainability, organic agriculture, aquaculture and reforestation, rural development, nutrition and public health, journalism and social change, workers and trade unions, street children, art and activism, dance therapy, ethnomusicology, women’s issues such as violence and self-esteem, human rights and peace studies, and much more.

Fall 2013

Required Courses:

Latin America Studies Seminar


Foundation Year Orientation Seminar


Writing, Research and Documentation Seminar


Spanish Language


Global Environmental Issues in Latin America 3

Spring 2014

Required Courses:


Field Work and Methods Seminar and Project


Introduction to Global Studies


Writing the College Essay OR Globalization in Contemporary World Fiction


Contemporary Indigenous Peoples in Latin America OR Health Issues and Services in Costa Rica 2-3 

*Note:  Some courses can be taken for a range of credits, depending on the interests and approved learning plan for each student.  One credit is equivalent to approximately 45 hours of work.