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  • Fall 2014
  • Spring 2014
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Dates:
08/21/2014 - 11/30/2014
Deadlines:
Extended to: 06/01/2014
Credit:
17 semester / 25.5 quarter hours
Eligibility:
2.75 Overall GPA
Courses:
See descriptions below

*Please see the detailed information available below for an important note about program dates.

Map:
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Dates:
02/09/2014 - 05/18/2014
Deadlines:
11/01/2013
Credit:
17 semester / 25.5 quarter hours
Eligibility:
2.75 Overall GPA
Courses:
See descriptions below

*Please see the detailed information available below for an important note about program dates.

Map:
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Dates:
TBA
Deadlines:
11/01/2014
Credit:
17 semester / 25.5 quarter hours
Eligibility:
2.75 Overall GPA
Courses:
See descriptions below

*Please see the detailed information available below for an important note about program dates.

Map:
View Map
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Study Abroad in Monteverde
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Program Overview

Program Overview

Come explore Costa Rica’s diverse and imitable ecosystems and gain comprehensive insight into its conservation through theory, hands-on exposure, and direct experimentation.

Through rigorous coursework, and unique field opportunities including two extensive field trips to Costa Rica’s varied ecosystems and the Panamanian coast, studying abroad in Monteverde acquaints you with practical biological problems associated with agricultural development, eco-tourism, and grassroots conservation efforts in developing countries.

Study abroad in Costa Rica and you will:

  • Gain hands-on experience through an independent research project
  • Participate in two, two and a half week field trips, including a trip to Panama to observe marine diversity in the coral reefs off the Bocas del Toro Islands
  • Live in a biological station surrounded by the Monteverde Cloud Forest
  • Get to known rural Costa Rica during a one-month homestay with a local family
  • Study Spanish at nine different levels with no more than four students per instructor
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The CIEE Difference

The CIEE Difference

Coursework

In Monteverde, the field is your classroom. Explore issues of tropical diversity, community ecology, and human impact in the tropics from your biological research station in the cloud forest.

You’ll also spend almost six weeks traveling with your professors throughout Costa Rica to explore the country’s various ecosystems.

Excursions

study abroad in Costa Rica

As part of the study abroad program, you’ll explore the Monteverde regional forests and Costa Rica’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts, visiting areas like a lowland rain forest equal in stature and diversity to forests in Amazonia, and the volcanoes of Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Approximately half the program is spent off site, exploring and studying the diverse ecosystems within Costa Rica.

Camping, hiking, snorkeling, swimming, traveling by bus and boat, and research are all part of the trips. In addition, there are a variety of cultural events and activities available to you in the town of Monteverde.

Independent Research

Use your newly minted skills and knowledge to carry out a project in tropical ecology or conservation. Beginning with personal observations, you’ll formulate a hypothesis, design an appropriate test, and spend the next four weeks gathering and analyzing data. The project culminates in a formal scientific report, poster presentation to local students, and symposium presentation.

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Dates, Deadlines & Fees

Dates, Deadlines & Fees

We want to make sure you get the most out of your experience when you study abroad with CIEE, which is why we offer the most inclusions in our fees.

The program fee includes:

  • Tuition and housing
  • Pre-departure advising and optional on-site airport meet and greet
  • Full-time program leadership and support
  • Field trips and cultural activities
  • CIEE iNext travel card which provides insurance and other travel benefits
Please note, program dates are subject to change. Please contact your CIEE Study Abroad Advisor before purchasing airfare. Click the button to view more detailed information about dates and fees as well as estimated additional costs. Please talk with your University Study Abroad Advisor about additional fees that may be charged by your home institution when participating in a program abroad.
Program
Application Due
Start Date
End Date
Costs
Fall 2014 (14 wks)
Extended to: 06/01/2014
08/21/2014
11/30/2014
$18,850

Program Date Notes

Program Fees

In addition to the items outlined below, the CIEE program fee includes an optional on-site airport meet and greet, full-time leadership and support, orientation, cultural activities, local excursions, scientific equipment and lab fees, transportatoin to/from the Biological Station in the Cloud Forest, national park entry fees, outdoor camping equipment, field house lab access, pre-departure advising, and a CIEE iNext travel card which provides insurance and other travel benefits.
Participation Confirmation *
$300
Educational Costs **
$16,398
Housing ***
$2,050
Insurance
$102

This breakdown has been prepared from the program budget for the purpose of calculating eligibility for financial aid. During the course of program operations, actual figures may vary. It should not, therefore, be used as a basis for calculation of refunds. CIEE reserves the right to adjust fees at any time.

Students required to study on CIEE programs through a School of Record will be charged a $340 administrative fee in addition to the Program Fees listed.

* non-refundable

** direct cost of education charged uniformly to all students

*** includes all meals

Estimated Additional Costs

International Airfare *
$650
Books & Supplies
$500
Personal expenses
$500

The estimated additional costs indicated are intended to assist students and parents in budgeting for those additional living and discretionary expenses not included in the program fee. Actual expenses will vary according to student interests and spending habits.

* round-trip based on U.S. East Coast departure

More Information
Spring 2014 (14 wks)
11/01/2013
02/09/2014
05/18/2014
$18,850

Program Date Notes

Program Fees

In addition to the items outlined below, the CIEE program fee includes an optional on-site airport meet and greet, full-time leadership and support, orientation, cultural activities, local excursions, scientific equipment and lab fees, transportatoin to/from the Biological Station in the Cloud Forest, national park entry fees, outdoor camping equipment, field house lab access, pre-departure advising, and a CIEE iNext travel card which provides insurance and other travel benefits.
Participation Confirmation *
$300
Educational Costs **
$16,398
Housing ***
$2,050
Insurance
$102

This breakdown has been prepared from the program budget for the purpose of calculating eligibility for financial aid. During the course of program operations, actual figures may vary. It should not, therefore, be used as a basis for calculation of refunds. CIEE reserves the right to adjust fees at any time.

Students required to study on CIEE programs through a School of Record will be charged a $340 administrative fee in addition to the Program Fees listed.

* non-refundable

** direct cost of education charged uniformly to all students

*** includes all meals

Estimated Additional Costs

International Airfare *
$650
Books & Supplies
$500
Personal expenses
$500

The estimated additional costs indicated are intended to assist students and parents in budgeting for those additional living and discretionary expenses not included in the program fee. Actual expenses will vary according to student interests and spending habits.

* round-trip based on U.S. East Coast departure

More Information
Spring 2015
11/01/2014
TBA
TBA

Program Date Notes

Program Fees

This breakdown has been prepared from the program budget for the purpose of calculating eligibility for financial aid. During the course of program operations, actual figures may vary. It should not, therefore, be used as a basis for calculation of refunds. CIEE reserves the right to adjust fees at any time.

Students required to study on CIEE programs through a School of Record will be charged a $340 administrative fee in addition to the Program Fees listed.

Estimated Additional Costs

The estimated additional costs indicated are intended to assist students and parents in budgeting for those additional living and discretionary expenses not included in the program fee. Actual expenses will vary according to student interests and spending habits.

More Information
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Eligibility
2.75 Overall GPA

Eligibility

  • Overall GPA 2.75
    • Overall GPA 2.75
    • 2 semesters of college-level biology
    • 1 additional semester of college-level ecology or environmental science recommended
    • Some college-level Spanish recommended
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Recommended Credit

Recommended Credit

Total recommended credit for the semester is 17 semester/25.5 quarter hours.

Biology course contact hours are 60 hours and recommended credit is 4 semester/6 quarter hours per course, unless otherwise indicated. Spanish language course contact hours are 60 hours and recommended credit is 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours.

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Program Requirements

Program Requirements

All study abroad students take Humans in the tropics, tropical community ecology, and tropical diversity, as well as an independent study and Spanish language course.

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About the City

About The City

Just below its world famous Cloud Forest, Monteverde is a small community of 4,000 that accommodates up to 200,000 tourists each year. Its forest is part of the largest private reserve in Central America and reflects a long heritage of grassroots conservation. The reserve encompasses not only cloud forest but everything from dry forest to rain forest habitats. Monteverde’s forests house over 2,500 species of plants, including more than 500 species of orchids. In addition, Monteverde has over 60 species of amphibians, 100 of mammals, and 450 of birds, including the famed Resplendent Quetzal.

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Meet The Staff

Meet The Staff

Staff Image

Alan Masters

Dr. Alan R. Masters has an M.S. and Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Florida and a B.S. from Illinois State University. He has lived in Monteverde for over 20 years and since 1993 he has been Director of CIEE’s Tropical Ecology and Conservation summer study abroad program. While originally a lepidopterist, Alan studied over 22 species of mimetic butterflies in Monteverde: what makes them taste bad and what that means to predation risk. Since teaching with CIEE, Alan’s interests include not only plant-animal interactions but all facets of tropical diversity and conservation.

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The Tropical Ecology and Conservation program is designed for students who want direct exposure to many types of tropical forests, with taxonomic, empirical, and theoretical information on the organisms these forests contain. It is for serious students who are very motivated to study biology and conservation.

This also means beautiful beaches, spectacular waterfalls, run-ins with cats and tapirs, Great Green macaws, insects of all kinds, rainbows, plants with plants growing on them, hiking, camping, birding, snorkeling, early mornings, late evenings, statistics, hummingbirds, butterflies, boats, whales, and turtles. It means doing all of these things with many people—instructors, researchers, everyday people, and fellow students—who are excited to learn and motivated to help save Costa Rica’s amazing biodiversity.

I will not tell you why I love Monteverde and Costa Rica so much. You will have to come down and find out for yourself. When you do, your love for the people and wildlife will never leave you, and, if you are like me, you may return again.

— Alan Masters, Resident Director

Staff Image

Kathy Rockwell

Kathy Rockwell, Program Coordinator, is a lifelong Monteverde resident and daughter of Quaker settlers in the region. Prior to working with CIEE, Kathy was the Assistant Manager at the Monteverde butterfly garden.

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Where You'll Study

Where You'll Study

study abroad in Costa Rica

The CIEE Study Center in Monteverde is located at the edge of the forest in a small, friendly, bilingual community surrounded by a cloud forest. Monteverde is free of biting insects and green all year-round. Monteverde’s Cloud Forest has been studied for more than 35 years by both visiting and Costa Rican biologists. This widens the research opportunities available and acquaints students with practical biological problems associated with agricultural development, eco-tourism, and grassroots conservation efforts in developing countries.

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Housing & Meals

Housing & Meals

Housing and all meals are included in the study abroad program fee. For two out of the four months, students live in a biological station situated adjacent to the magnificent Monteverde Cloud Forest. Students attend all classes in this beautiful setting. Up to four people share a room (two bunk beds provided), with a private bath and hot shower. Meals are taken at the biological station and served family style. Vegetarians and vegans can easily be accommodated.

A one-month homestay is also included in the program, during which participants live and eat their meals with local Costa Rican families throughout the Monteverde-Santa Elena regions. Homestays are assigned based on independent study research interests. All meals are included for the length of the homestay period.

Students spend several extended periods, nearly one and a half months in all, traveling with their professors throughout Costa Rica, exploring the country’s various ecosystems.

Two teaching assistants live with students at the station and are available to help answer questions about health issues, living conditions, and the academic program. A logistics coordinator, the Spanish Language Institute, and the academic staff plan social activities and notify students of cultural and community events.

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Orientations

Orientations

A two-day, mandatory orientation session, conducted in San José at the beginning of the study abroad program, will introduce you to the country, culture, and academic program, as well as provide practical information about living in Costa Rica and the Monteverde community. It includes both structured activities and independent sightseeing. You'll attend lectures, tour museums, and purchase last-minute supplies in the capital city. Orientation continues with a 20-day Pacific Coast field trip to highlight the diversity of tropical ecosystems. Upon arrival in Monteverde, a special orientation of the program site is held. Ongoing support is provided by CIEE staff on an individual and group basis throughout the program.

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Internet

Internet

You can bring a wireless-enables laptop, but service is intermittent. You will be able to access the Internet using shared CIEE computers at the biological station where you'll live, although the computers are primarily to be used for academic work. There are field trip periods of up to two and a half weeks during which Internet access is occasional or impossible.

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Culture

Culture

study abroad in Costa Rica

As part of the study abroad program, you’ll explore the Monteverde regional forests and Costa Rica’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts, visiting areas such as the Corcovado National Park, a Pacific coast lowland rain forest equal in stature and diversity to forests in Amazonia, Carara and Santa Rosa National Parks, and the volcanoes of Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Approximately half the program is spent off site, exploring and studying the diverse ecosystems within Costa Rica.

Camping, hiking, snorkeling, swimming, traveling by bus and boat, and research are all part of the trips. In addition, there are a variety of cultural events and activities available to you in the town of Monteverde.

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Academics

Academics

The CIEE Study Center in Monteverde began as a summer program in 1989. In 1996, a semester study abroad program was added. The Tropical Ecology and Conservation program is geared to biology and related majors who have completed an introductory biology sequence and one of the following electives: animal behavior, conservation biology, ecology, or evolution. The academic content of the program is designed to immerse participants in tropical ecology and conservation through rigorous classwork, including exposure to systematics, current and classic scientific literature, and academic lectures. The program also offers unique field opportunities, including two extensive field trips throughout Costa Rica’s varied ecosystems and the Panamanian coast, and a directed independent research project. Spanish language compliments the biological studies by focusing on related vocabulary and a one-month homestay with a rural Costa Rican family. All courses, except the Spanish language course, are taught in English.

Academic Culture

The small, rigorous courses with a biological focus are offered for CIEE study abroad students only, and incorporate extensive travel, research, and field study. U.S. and Costa Rican biology professors teach and evaluate students in both the classroom and on field trips. Students should expect an academically intense experience and be willing to learn in a variety of settings, including classrooms, beaches, waterfalls, and treetops. The biological station that houses the program abuts a large, stunning forest contiguous with the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, the major tropical mountain forest research center in the Western Hemisphere. Together, the various Monteverde forest preserves make up over 25,000 hectares (57,000-plus acres). Students have a unique opportunity to study in a comfortable facility close to this spectacular biodiversity. Unlike other programs, the Tropical Ecology and Conservation program in Monteverde is housed alongside the biodiversity that participants will study every day. One wakes to the sounds of Howler Monkeys, not to city traffic noise. Courses run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, but no two days are exactly the same.

Nature of Classes

Classes are held with CIEE students only and are quite small and dynamic. There is no direct enrollment with local students. There is an emphasis on experiential learning. One day students will find themselves in the forest teaching other students. The next day might be a morning of bird watching followed by keying out plant samples.

Grading System

Students are assessed based on mid-term and final exams, quizzes, field practicals, written reports from field experiments, and participation. Independent study grades are based upon a proposal, two submissions of a manuscript, and a symposium presentation. Letter grades of A-F are given with pluses and minuses.

Language of Instruction

English
Spanish

Faculty

Biology courses are taught by biologists from U.S., European, and Costa Rican universities who have degrees in ecology and extensive experience in the Neotropics. Guest lecturers are drawn from both resident and visiting biologists. Spanish language courses are provided by the Centro Panamericano de Idiomas (CPI).

Dr, Alan R. Masters, PhD, Zoology from University of Florida. Dissertation researched 22 species of tropical mimetic butterflies in Monteverde. Post doctoral work at Princeton University. Lecturer at University of Florida and Princeton University. Plant-animal interactions, particularly those mediated chemically.

Dr. Johel Chaves, B.A. and MSc from University of Costa Rica, and Ph.D. from Purdue University. Post doctoral work at Tulane University. Costa Rican ornithologist who has studied frugivory in birds around Monteverde, as well as antbirds and army ant interactions at La Selva Biological Station. Published works on sea birds, bird song, fish, snails, and shrimp. A graduate advisor for Costa Rican students studying at the University of Costa Rica.

Branko Hilje, BA from University of Costa Rica and MSc Ecology and Systematics from University of Puerto Rico. Recovery and composition of amphibian species in secondary lowland rainforests. Current interests include global warming and amphibian declines.

Jose Carlos (Moncho) Calderon, Teaching Assistant. B.S. from Universidad de Costa Rica. Studied bat biology, but is knowledgeable about mammals in general and vertebrate biology. Teaching assistant for the CIEE program since 2008.

Maricela Pizarro, Teaching Assisant. B.Sc. from Universidad de Costa Rica. Interest in fungi and plants. Assisted student groups since 2010 and joined CIEE in 2011.

Dr. Richard LaVal, Field Instructor. B.S. from Carnegie Mellon University, M.S., Vertebrate Zoology from Louisiana State University, and Ph.D., Wildlife Sciences from Texas A&M. Currently studying the ecological significance of echolocation in bats. Has been assisting the CIEE program in Monteverde since it began.

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Course Description

Course Description

All Courses

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

All courses outlined below, including Spanish, are required. The final syllabi for courses are given to students upon arrival in Monteverde. Because requirements vary between schools, contact your study abroad office for course equivalents and credits awarded toward your degree.

BIOL 3001 MVCR

Tropical Diversity
This course explores tropical diversity and theories to explain its origin and maintenance. It also covers extinction and how to conserve tropical biodiversity. The course includes lectures, laboratory sessions (“Diversity Days”), and discussions.

Lecture Topics
1. Species, Evolutionary Processes, and Biodiversity
2. Taxonomic Distribution of Biodiversity
3. Geographic Distribution of Biodiversity
4. Indices of Diversity, Richness, and Relative Abundance (with problem set)
5. Speciation in the Tropics
6. Resource-Based Theories of Species Richness
7. Stochastic Models of Species Richness, Part I
8. Stochastic Models of Species Richness, Part II
9. Loss of Biodiversity, Part I
10. Loss of Biodiversity, Part II
11. Human Population Growth, Resource Use, and Conservation of Biodiversity

Laboratory (“Diversity Days”)
1. Diversity of Wet Forest
2. Diversity of Dry Forest
3. Diversity of Cloud Forest
4. Orchid Diversity
5. Flowering Plant Diversity
6. Fungal Diversity
7. Insect Diversity
8. Bird Diversity
9. Reptiles and Amphibian Diversity
10. Marine Diversity
11. Mammal Diversity

Required Reading
Janzen, D. H. (ed.) 1983. Costa Rican Natural History, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago Jeffries, M.J. 1997. Biodiversity and Conservation, Routledge Press, NY
Tropical Diversity Reader
Diversity Day Handouts

BIOL 3002 MVCR/ECOL 3002 MVCR

Independent Research in Biology/Ecology
For this course, students carry out a project in tropical ecology or conservation. Beginning with personal observations, students formulate a hypothesis and design an appropriate test. Data is gathered and analyzed over a four-week period. The project culminates in a formal scientific report, poster presentation to local students, and symposium presentation. Instructors and teaching assistants provide support throughout the study. Instructors: Alan Masters, Resident Director and Tania Chavarria

Past research topics have included:
Altitudinal Comparison of Species Richness and Abundance in Formicidae
Colonizing Limitations of the Composing Earthworms, Eisenia Foetida
Damselfly Behavior in a Tropical Cloud Forest
Exploration of Niche Partitioning in Three Species of Wrens in Monteverde
The Incidence and Density of Blue-Green Algae in Gunnera Insignis Petioles
A Lesson Plan on Water Conservation for the Centro de Educacion Creativa
Nectar Consumption by Hummingbird Flower Mites
Roosting and Nesting Habits of Quercus Mexicanus
Tachnid Fly Parasitism in Danaus Plexippus of Costa Rica
Understory Vascular Plant Growth in Monospecific Windbreaks in Monteverde
Use of Olfaction in Food Selection by Nectarivorous Bats

ECOL 3001 MVCR

Tropical Community Ecology
This course explores the variety of tropical communities, how they are organized, and how they are endangered. Instructor: Alan Masters, Resident Director

Lecture/Discussion Themes
1. Why Study Tropical Ecology/Conservation?
2. Sustainability: Definitions and Approaches
3. Ethical Basis of Conservation
4. History and Current Ecology
5. Variety of Tropical Ecosystems
6. Climate
7. Classification of Tropical Ecosystem Types
8. Tropical Soils, Nutrient Cycles, and Productivity
9. Ecosystem Services and Conservation
10. Gap Dynamics and Forest Regeneration
11. Tropical Tropic Structure and Food Webs
12. Herbivory in Tropical Forests
13. Parasitism and Predation
14. Mutualism
15. Pollination Biology
16. Seed Dispersal
17. Disturbance, Biodiversity, and Stability
18. Sustainable Forestry
19. Future of the Tropics/How to Save the Tropics

Possible Field Exercises include:
1. Acacia: Ant Interactions
2. Foraging Behavior by Leaf Cutter Ants
3. Howler Monkey Group Dynamics
4. Associations in Tide Pool Communities
5. Neotony in Magpie Jays
6. Foundress Number of Agaonid Fig Wasps
7. Role of Buttresses in Canopy Trees
8. Orchid Pollination
9. Bromeliad Tank Community Structure
10. Bird Guild Structure along a Disturbance Gradient
11. Learning How to Fish: The Case for Pelicans
12. Herbivory and Plant Apparency

Required Reading
Janzen, D. H. (ed.) 1983. Costa Rican Natural History, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago
Assigned readings

ECOL 3003 MVCR

Humans in the Tropics

Themes of this course include the following:
1. Indigenous Cultures: Early Impact on the Ecosystem
2. History of European Settlement
3. Beef Cattle and the Industry’s Impact on Culture and Ecology
4. Coffee and its Impact on Costa Rican Society, Economy, and Ecology
5. Dairy and Quakers: Connections between Cloud Forest and Cheese
6. Ecotourism: Balance between Development and Conservation
7. Bananas and Pineapple: Transnational Influences in Costa Rica and its Environmental Impact
8. Sustainable Development and Agroecology
9. Conservation I: The National Park System in Costa Rica
10. Conservation II: Grass Roots Conservation

Each theme includes a lecture and field day. Contact hours: 30. Recommended credit: 2 semester/3 quarter hours.

SPAN 1001 MVCR, Spanish Language, Beginning I
SPAN 1002 MVCR, Spanish Language, Beginning II
SPAN 1003 MVCR, Spanish Language, Beginning III
SPAN 2001 MVCR, Spanish Language, Intermediate I
SPAN 2002 MVCR, Spanish Language, Intermediate II
SPAN 2003 MVCR, Spanish Language, Intermediate III
SPAN 3001 MVCR, Spanish Language, Advanced I
SPAN 3002 MVCR, Spanish Language, Advanced II
SPAN 3003 MVCR, Spanish Language, Advanced III

The curriculum is specifically geared to CIEE students, with vocabulary focusing on ecology and conservation. Students are also involved in experiencias under the guidance of the course instructor, researching and reporting on particular topics. Classroom instruction is in Spanish. There are multiple individualized levels offered with no more than four students per instructor. Students are tested during orientation to ensure appropriate placement in language classes.

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