Course instructor: Brian Wisenden (

Course objectives:

1. Introduction to the ecology of tropical ecosystems
2. Introduction to conservation biology
  - the difficulty of balancing conservation with socioeconomic and political forces
3. Costa Rica as a case study
  - the biology of Costa Rica
  - the history of Costa Rican culture
  - birth of present day park system
4. Field trip to Costa Rica over March break (10-21 March 2016) to gain first-hand experience

Book report guide for The Green Phoenix
Definitions of lead, facility, circle question
Systems literacy

Class schedule from 2016

Day Date Topic Readings (Chapters are from Conservation Biology for All) Opener Facilitator Question
Fri 15-Jan Introduction, paperwork, organize Dr. Brian Dr. Dan
    Course synopsis      
Fri 22-Jan Introduction to conservation biology Ch1: Conservation biology: past and present Dr. Brian Dr. Brian Dr. Brian
    Understanding biodiversity Ch2: Biodiversity Katie John Lahren
Fri 29-Jan Value of biodiversity Ch3: Ecosystem functions and services Stacy Erin Austin
    Threats to biodiversity 1 Ch5: Habitat fragmentation and landscape change Ben Jacob Alex
Fri 5-Feb Threats to biodiversity 4 Ch8: Climate change + Brodie et al. 2012 Clarice Jake Jack
    Threats to biodiversity 5 Vandermeer & Perfecto 1995 Brianna Evan Kristen
Fri 12-Feb Conserving Biodiversity Naughton-Treves et al. 2005 John Lahren Katie
    Who will pay? Balmford & Whitten 2003 Erin Austin Stacy
Fri 19-Feb Costa Rica as a case study. Why here? CR history and culture (Lieberman & Lieberman, unpubl.) Jacob Alex Ben
    Cabo Blanco 50 years on Timm et al. 2009 Jake Jack Clarice
Fri 26 Feb Monteverde & Ecotourism Weinberg et al. 2002, Box 12.2 Evan Kristen Brianna
    Advocacy for bioconservation Kareiva 2008, Brussard & Tull 2007, Roberston & Hull 2001 Lahren Katie John
Fri 4-Mar Exam on the readings (10%)  
    Book report due, Final check before trip        
Thu 10-Mar Fly out of Fargo 6:45 am
Mon 21-Mar Return to Fargo 11:03 pm        
Fri 25-Mar no class
Fri 1-Apr notebooks due, SAC prep        
Fri 8-Mar SAC prep
Tue 12-Apr SAC        

Itinerary for 10-21 March, 2016

Thursday (10th):
Fly to Liberia (Stay in Bagaces)
Friday (11th): Breakfast at Soda la Fuente, Cataratas llanos de Cortes, travel to Santa Rosa Park (sleep in Ecolodge Santa Rosa)
Saturday (12th): Explore Santa Rosa tropicl dry forest (sleep in Ecolodge Santa Rosa)
Sunday (13th): Travel to Ecolodge Cabo Blanco (sleep in Ecolodge San Miguel)
Monday (14th): San Miguel: birding, forest hike, snorkeling, tidepooling (sleep in San Miguel)
Tuesday (15th): San Miguel: snorkeling, tidepooling, shell-o-rama (sleep in San Miguel)
Wednesday (16th): drive to Ecolodge San Luis, settle in, volleyball (sleep in UGA-CR)
Thursday (17th): Monteverde (with guides) pack lunch, free time in afternoon in MV to hike to the ventana, dinner at Ecolodge San Luis, insect lights at night
Friday (20st): Cow milking, breakfast, lunch, Coffee Tour/Sustainability Tour/Horseback riding, night hike (sleep in UGA-CR)
Saturday (21nd): Sky Walk in AM, Zip lining or free time in Santa Elena in afternoon, evening meal at Tree Top cafe (sleep in UGA-CR)
Sunday (22rd): Leave San Miguel, settle in Guayacan (near Bagaces), explore geothermal energy production, hot springs, evening fiesta (sleep at Guayacan)
Monday (23th): Fly back to Fargo




Flat rate of $2400 (financial aid available, some refund may be available if course fully enrolls), which includes:

- airfare

- transportation by microbus within Costa Rica

- ferry fare

- accommodations at all hotels and ecolodges

- all food at ecolodges

- entrance fees to parks


Does not include spending money: about $250, which you can withdraw in local currency from an ATM in Bagaces. You will need this money to buy

- food while in Bagaces at beginning and end of trip

- spending money in Bagaces, Santa Elena, Puntarenas, Guayacan

- souvenirs


Maximum number of students allowed is 18 (limited space on the microbus).
This is an interdisciplinary course for students from any major, and open to the tri-college system (MSUM, NDSU, Concordia: students must be able to attend weekly class meetings at MSUM for 2h on Thursday or Friday afternoons.

For more information and to express interest in taking this course please contact the course instructors.