UGA celebrates Costa Rica campus anniversary

Fall 2010 marks the fifth anniversary of the UGA Costa Rica study abroad office in Athens. It has been a long journey since the 155-acre piece of property that has become the UGA Costa Rica campus was purchased by the University of Georgia Foundation in 2001. Since then, roughly 36,000 square feet of facilities have been designed and built, largely under the tutelage of Professor Gregg Coyle from UGA’s College of Environment and Design. Beyond this critical period of initial construction, the past five years have seen study abroad program offerings at UGA Costa Rica literally quadruple, from a modest five programs and 63 students in 2005 to 19 programs and over 250 students last year.

New programs
The next two academic years will see the addition of six new programs-a fall semester program in environment and design; May semester programs in dance and geomorphology; theatre and film studies; and summer programs offering Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources core curriculum courses and tropical watershed management. All in all, that will put UGA Costa Rica’s offerings at 22 annual study abroad programs representing 28 disciplines led by over 60 UGA faculty members and teaching assistants.

UGA Costa Rica’s mission extends well beyond just allowing students to have a travel experience abroad. The program is passionately devoted to service-learning, ecological and social sustainability, and community outreach, practices that play heavily into the types of activities and instruction undertaken by students while in San Luis de Monteverde and elsewhere in Costa Rica. The ultimate goal is that students will bring the commitment to community service and ecological responsibility experienced in Costa Rica back to Athens, where opportunities to further these interests abound in both the university and the local community.

Looking forward
In addition to new academic offerings, UGA Costa Rica has several other projects in the works. The UGA Costa Rica Carbon Offset Program, which began in Jan. 2008, has planted over 5,000 trees in the past three years and has over 15,000 seedlings ready for planting in the upcoming year.

Over the next few months, UGA Costa Rica will be observing this five-year milestone through a series of events used not only to extol the work of their students and faculty, but also to demonstrate in part the wide disciplinary focus of their annual programs.

  • A collection of paintings, drawings, photography and sculpture from May semester 2010 students will be on display in the Suite Gallery of the Lamar Dodd School of Art, Oct. 1-14. An opening reception will be held on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m.
  • Ciné will host a screening of the short pieces created by students who attended this past summer’s first photodocumentary program led by Spenser Simrill from UGA’s English department on Oct. 21 from 6-9 p.m. A reception will follow and will include a photo exhibit from Richard Siegesmund, who was UGA Costa Rica’s Willson Artist-in-Residence in fall 2009. These images are part of the work produced by Siegesmund during his tenure in San Luis.
  • Over 300 specimens of tropical butterflies collected at the UGA Costa Rica campus over the past five years will be on display in the Odum School of Ecology gallery space starting on Nov. 3 at 4 p.m. and running through Dec. 1.