Defining key island systems, both natural and human, and how they interface is the focus of this marine and terrestrial program. Through field observations and research, students identify the pressures on the environment and social systems, and evaluate the responses by local stakeholders and policymakers. Interviews with residents reveal local livelihood strategies, approaches to surviving in a tourism-based economy, and use of natural resources, which help students to assess the sustainability of terrestrial and marine resource use.
The program provides a foundational knowledge of the interdependence of the livelihood strategies of island residents, population structure of key species, and habitat arrangements and conditions. Equipped with this, students then apply sustainability principles to identify potential management strategies. Lectures by Panamanian and international researchers, government officials, and community stakeholders provide additional social, economic, and policy context for environmental management in the region.
What is Unique about this Opportunity?
- Explore lowland humid rainforests, viewing diverse insects, birds, monkeys, plants, and numerous species of poison dart frogs
- Snorkel for field research and species identification on coral reefs, seagrass beds, and other marine habitats
- Visit indigenous communities and learn about livelihood strategies including farming, fishing, and forest gathering
- Interview and interact with local stakeholders including government agencies, nonprofits, and educational and business leaders to understand the complex implications of management on ecosystems
Through Directed Research (DR)—as opposed to basic, applied, or independent research—students conduct research on a specific topic that is part of the SFS Center’s long-term strategic research plan, which has been developed in partnership with local community stakeholders and clients.
The course, taught by resident SFS faculty, provides students with the opportunity to apply the scientific process in a mentored field research project that addresses a local environmental issue. Through the DR project, students contribute to a growing body of scientific research that informs local conservation and resource management decisions.
How do I apply?
Applying to study abroad is a 2-Step process. You may complete both steps simultaneously, but Cornell Approval must be obtained before your program advisor in Global Learning can complete any approval or nomination forms for the program itself.
For Cornell Approval, click on the "Apply" button on this webpage. Applications are approved by the Office of Global Learning on a rolling basis until the application deadline listed on this webpage.
For Program Admission, complete an external application directly on the program’s webpage, using the link in the “Snapshot” section. Note that this deadline may be in advance of the general Cornell deadline for approval. Many programs fill by rolling admission.