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 students in the rain forestUWindsor students enjoy a study-abroad field course in Costa Rica in May 2022.

Study-abroad courses offer unique learning opportunities in Costa Rica and Iceland

After two years of delays and cancelled trips, students from the faculties of science and arts, humanities, and social science are once again able to study abroad in Costa Rica and Iceland this summer.

These for-credit experiences are supported through the Universities Canada Global Mobility funding for the Go Global STEPS and iWill Go Global programs, in addition to generous support from donors to the School of the Environment.

In the rainforests of Costa Rica, 35 students are conducting measurements of the water budget in a small, instrumented watershed within the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. The course, led by dean of science Chris Houser, gives students hands-on field-based learning. Participants are also supporting a nearby community through service work to maintain vital waterlines from source areas in the rainforest and provide field-based training to Costa Rican high school students on hydrological monitoring.

While in Costa Rica, the students will also visit a field site of Dan Mennill and Stéphanie Doucet from the Department of Integrative Biology. Working in Earth’s most imperiled ecosystem, the tropical dry forest, the students will contrast mature forests and those that are newly protected, studying the animals and plants in each.

“The opportunity to learn career-relevant field techniques and participate in cutting-edge research is transformative for the students participating on this trip,” says Dr. Houser.

In Iceland, Maria Cioppa and Ali Polat from the School of the Environment are introducing 11 students to the island’s geological wonders. This year they will visit the newest volcanic eruption site, Fagradalsfjall, in addition to assessing the impact of climate change on the country’s glaciers.

“Visiting Iceland allows us to introduce students to the tectonic processes that have resulted in the Earth as it is today — as well as the anthropogenic forces that are altering it,” Dr. Cioppa says.

The funding from Universities Canada will help support an increase in the number and diversity of study-abroad programs over the next four years.

“There was so much demand for study abroad this year that we decided to maximize enrolment in both trips and offer two separate trips to Costa Rica,” Houser says.

To support the expansion of international study opportunities for students, Houser has instituted a shadow program to train other faculty in running study-abroad trips. This year, Chantal Vallée is shadowing Houser in Costa Rica and meetings with the Federation de Baloncesto and other academic institutions in San Jose. He invites faculty interested in participating in the shadow program next year to contact him.

Follow the adventures of the Costa Rica and Iceland trips through the Twitter feeds of the Faculty of Science (@scienceuwindsor), the School of the Environment (@eeswindsor), and Houser (@houserchrisa1).

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