Explore rain forests, coral reefs, highland canopies, and coastal mangroves as you study tropical conservation and ecology in one of the world’s most ecologically diverse countries.
- Study in one of the most biodiverse and complex ecosystems in the world.
- Engage in seven weeks of travel and field study in Panama and Costa Rica and visit world-renowned research institutions, including the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and EARTH University.
- Hike the highland ecosystems and lowland rain forests while living in local communities.
- Conduct extensive fieldwork in mangrove forests, threatened seagrass beds, and pristine coral reefs.
- Live in Panama’s vibrant capital and largest city.
- Conduct four weeks of independent, original field research on a topic of your choice.
Please visit the SIT Study Abroad website for details on program courses (including syllabi), educational excursions, and housing.
During the final four weeks of the program, you can choose to use your new language and cultural skills and the academic knowledge you have acquired to complete an Independent Study Project (ISP) on a topic of interest to you. Typically, research projects are conducted in cloud forest highlands, coral reefs, lowland forests, mangroves, rural villages, indigenous communities, or other places appropriate to the topic.
- Rain forest dynamics
- Tropical forest diversity
- Regeneration of canopy emergents in primary forests
- Mammal conservation
- Sustainable fisheries
- Coral reef organisms
- Mangrove health
Key Topics of Study
- Tropical forest dynamics
- Neotropical mammal and amphibian ecology, coral reef organisms, and avian diversity
- Marine and coastal ecosystem connectivity
- Ecological field research methods and methodology
- Carbon, climate change, and resource use, including indigenous resource use
- Contemporary socio-environmental issues shaping the tropics
- Explore controversial conservation topics including hydroelectric dams, sustainable agriculture, indigenous resource use, protected areas, environmental services, and ecotourism.
Be sure to discuss how study abroad costs are handled at your school with your study abroad advisor.
SIT tuition and room and board fees include the following:
All educational costs, including educational excursions
- All accommodations and meals for the full program duration
- Transportation to and from the airport, and on all educational excursions
- Health and accident insurance
- SIT awards nearly $1.6 million in scholarships and grants annually.
- All scholarships and grants are need-based.
- Awards generally range from $500 to $5,000.
- The SIT Pell Grant Match provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding when it is applied to an SIT Study Abroad semester program.
- Contact the financial aid and/or study abroad office(s) at your college or university to learn if your school’s scholarships and grants and federal and state aid programs can be applied to an SIT Study Abroad program.
Contact SIT Study Abroad
Development and Conservation
Current Program Information
With more bird species than all of North America, the premier tropical biology research institute in the world, eight unique indigenous groups, strong African colonial roots, a Caribbean archipelago noted as the Galápagos of the twenty-first century, and a storehouse of endangered cloud forests, Panama is an outstanding site for students to explore tropical conservation and sustainable development. Within this extraordinary cultural and ecological diversity, Panamanian governments, businesses, and nongovernmental organizations struggle to balance development and conservation in the age of globalization.
Local specialists, campesino, and indigenous groups, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation, the University of Panama, and the Earth University of Costa Rica, introduce students to the complexities of environmental conservation through instruction and field excursions to sites of important research on such subjects as biodiversity and global change.