Note: This course listing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a contract between CIEE and any applicant, student, institution, or other party. The courses, as described, may be subject to change as a result of ongoing curricular revisions, assignment of lecturers and teaching staff, and program development. Courses may be cancelled due to insufficient enrollment.
CIEE Study Center Syllabi
To view the most recent syllabi for courses taught by CIEE at our Study Centers, visit our syllabi site.
Required CIEE Courses
BIOL 3001 MVSU
This team-taught course includes lectures, discussions, field exercises, and labs. The discussion period is devoted to assigned journal articles. There are at least 10 field study exercises conducted in a wide variety of habitats. In addition to the lectures given by the faculty, other guest lecturers talk about their research in Costa Rica. There is also an eight-day field trip to a variety of tropical ecosystems. Course-related lectures, seminars, and discussions include:
I. Diversity in Tropical Ecosystems
Bats as Pollinators and Seed Dispersers of the Tropics
Deterministic and Neutral Models of Species Diversity
Diversity Begets Diversity: How Diversity Travels through Trophic Levels
Exceptions to the Latitudinal Trends: Who Are They and Why?
How Many Species Are There?
How to Quantify Species Diversity
Introductions vs. Extinctions and Their Ecological Impacts on Tropical Ecosystems
Loss of Biodiversity
Maintenance of Tropical Biodiversity
Models of Speciation and Their Impact on Conservation
Origins of Tropical Biodiversity
Reptile and Amphibian Fauna and Diversity
Social Insects: Leaf-Cutter Ants, Army Ants, Termites, and Africanized Bees
Species Richness and Stability: How Will the Tropics Fare?
Tropical Flora of Costa Rica
Which Species Are More Extinction Prone?
Why the Tropics Have More Species: History, Stability, and Productivity
II. How Tropical Ecosystems Function
Avian Social Behavior and Foraging Strategies
Avoiding Predators: Camouflage, Warning Coloration, and Mimicry
Climate and Biogeography of Central America
Ecological Relationships of Plants and Animals
Evolutionary Patterns: Adaptation and Natural Selection
Nutrient Cycling and Tropical Soils
Patterns in the Ecology of Rainforest Vegetation
The Poisoned Platter: Herbivory and Chemical Defenses in Plants
Seed Dispersal and Frugivory
III. Conservation Issues
20 Questions: Developing Research Ideas
Arboreal and Terrestrial Mammals
Conservation and Goals of Braulio Carillo National Park
Conservation of Songbirds Migrating Across Political Boundaries
Costs and Benefits of Ecotourism
The Importance of Keystone Species
The Importance of Women for Sustainable Development in Central America (Vivienne Solis)
Issues in Human Overpopulation
Land Use, Politics, and Liberation Theology
Leaf-Cutter Ant Behavior
Monteverde Canopy Bridges
Neotropical Economic Botany
Optimal Sizes and Shapes of Refuges
Orchid Bee Scent Attraction
Pollination in a Flowering Tree
Regeneration of Forest in Abandoned Pastures
Reptiles and Amphibians of Costa Rica
Reserve Plant Identification (Willow Zuchowski)
Tour of Monteverde Cloud Forest
Textbook: Janzen, D.H. Costa Rica Natural History. University of Chicago Press, 1983. Contact hours: 60. Recommended credit: 4 semester/6 quarter hours. Instructors: Dr. Karen Masters and Tania Chavarria
BIOL 3003 MVSU/ECOL 3004 MVSU
Independent Research in Biology and Ecology
With the guidance of the research faculty, each student conducts an independent field research project of his or her own design. Students spend a minimum of two mornings a week and part of each weekend working on their projects, meeting with advisors throughout the program. At the end of the program, they give oral presentations and submit written reports on their work.
ECOL 3003 MVSU
Humans in the Tropics
This course provides a general overview of how people live and impact their environment in a tropical country, using Costa Rica (Central Valley, Caribbean slope, and Monteverde area) as an example. The focus is on the major human impacts on the natural environment that have resulted in the creation of agricultural and urban ecosystems. It includes discussion of the influence of human actions on natural processes by the different social groups that constitute the Costa Rican society; the scale and effect of this impact; and the progress achieved by the private and public sectors to eliminate or mitigate the human impact on ecosystems.
SPAN 1004 MVSU
Beginner Spanish Conversation
This course includes an introduction to the Spanish language with an emphasis on speaking, listening comprehension, and understanding of basic grammar. Students master basic communication skills in Spanish; learn to employ simple verb tenses correctly; acquire vocabulary; and learn and use language skills in their daily life. To reinforce class lessons, homework assignments are given on a routine basis and reviewed in class. Assignments are modified and adapted to the needs of individual students. Evaluation for the course is based on attendance, participation, quizzes, exams, and a final performance. The latter is a creative production (songs, poetry, theater) that students prepare throughout the semester and perform on the final day.
SPAN 2004 MVSU
Intermediate Spanish Conversation
This course is intended for students with previous Spanish language instruction. Students attain a communication level equivalent to 80% of that of a native speaker. Students master a wide range of verbs and vocabulary, enabling them to have a normal conversation with any native speaker, read different kinds of documents with good comprehension, and pose questions and answers in Spanish. To achieve these goals, written homework assignments are given on a routine basis and reviewed in class. Speaking and listening skills are also emphasized in the classroom. Evaluation for the course is based on attendance, participation, quizzes, exams, and a final performance. The latter is a creative production (songs, poetry, theater) that students prepare throughout the semester and perform on the final day.
SPAN 3004 MVSU
Advanced Spanish Conversation
This course is for students with considerable previous language instruction. Students master complex sentence structure. At the end of the course, students should be able to communicate orally and in writing at a skill level equivalent to 90% of that of native speakers. Specifically, they are able to employ simple and compound verb forms, be able to react verbally to unexpected situations, know how to explain rules of grammar to other students, and understand specific and general vocabulary. At this advanced level, the emphasis is on enabling students to conduct conversations of increasingly complex themes and vocabulary. Evaluation for the course is based on attendance, participation, quizzes, exams, and a final performance. The latter is a creative production (songs, poetry, theater) that students prepare throughout the semester and perform on the final day.