Spanish Language, Liberal Arts & Environmental Sciences

Course Overview


GEB 3500 Ecotourism: The Costa Rica Case


CEA Partner Institution: Veritas University
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Primary Subject Area: Economics
Other Subject Area: Sociology
Instruction in: English
Course Details: Level 300
Recommended Semester Credits: 4
Contact Hours: 60


This course will provide the students with an introduction to Costa Rican ecotourism. It will offer the chance to analyze this dynamic process from different socio-economic perspectives. It will discuss the economic importance of ecotourism for the Costa Rican national economy, the stimulation of grassroots, community ecotourism projects, and the role of ecotourism in securing environmental protection. The advances and limitations of ecotourism will be explored. Students will be encouraged to develop their own conclusions about how ecotourism can help to secure economic, environmental and participatory alternatives in order to advance the Costa Rican sustainable development process.

The course will be structured in three parts:
PART ONE: Building the case for ecotourism: Definitions, history, and the context of ecotourism in Costa Rica.
PART TWO: Costa Rica's policy framework and institutional commitment to ecotourism. The development of ecotourism in the regional and national setting.
PART THREE: Costa Rica?s ecotourism sector. Projects, case studies and conclusions explored.

This is a social studies and sustainability course, it is elective, theoretical and practical and responds to the professional formation questions:
- What is the quality of the Costa Rican ecotourism experience and how can this be qualified? What major advances are taking place and what are the pertinent problems that need to be addressed to move toward authentic ecotourism? How can solutions be developed to challenge the negative impacts of tourism? How to detect opportunities to stimulate ecotourism and improve its authenticity? And how to empower local communities and marginal groups in this process?

To be able to respond to the above questions the following themes will be covered:
- Brief introduction to the types of tourism and the tourism industry.
- Definitions of alternative tourisms, sustainable tourism and ecotourism.
- The Costa Rican context development of conservation context.
- The history and development of the Costa Rican ecotourism process.
- Weak and strong sustainability frameworks.
- Weak and strong ecotourism practices.
- Certification for sustainable tourism.
- Complementary certification and private enterprise innovations for ecotourism.
- Major advances in the ecotourism industry.
- Major obstacles for ecotourism businesses and settings.
- Case study exploration and comparison.
- Agro-ecotourism, rural tourism, cultural tourism at a local level.
- Volunteer-tourism and service learning.

Students will develop a critical understanding of the Costa Rican ecotourism process through observing and experiencing Costa Rica?s ecotourism process at first hand, and through active participation in week-end field-trips where students will have a chance to understand local dynamics of ecotourism projects.
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