PROGRAM DATES:  July 6 - August 3, 2018

EARLY APPLICATION DEADLINE: October 13, 2017

STANDARD APPLICATION DEADLINE: January 19, 2018

PROGRAM COST: $3793*  (This amount includes the $300 deposit.)

Program fees cover all lodging in-country, three meals per day, travel insurance, and all sponsored in-country transportation and entry fees. They do not include UGA in-state tuition† and fees, personal purchases, and international airfare. For more information on tuition and fees, please visit the UGA Bursar's website.

* 2017 program fee. 2018 info TBA. The final program fee is subject to student enrollment.
† Note: Out-of-state students pay in-state tuition. Additionally, the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships apply to those who are eligible.

Introduction

As a magnet for global surf tourism, Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast is being rapidly transformed today as communities face the complex challenges of promoting sustainability and conserving nature while catering to increasing demands for development and economic growth.  Travelling up the coast from south to north, we visit a number of towns and surf destinations to learn how these communities are responding to the changing realities of which they are a part.
 
In this program, we are on the road a lot, meeting lots of different people, encountering the unexpected, and seeing new things every day.  We have done our best to design a program that will maximize learning opportunities through a combination of daily learning sessions, experiential learning through travel and meetings, time for reflection, and downtime.
 
Students will be expected to read extensively from sources listed in the syllabus. Because we have a very full schedule once we arrive in Costa Rica, we ask that you do as much of the reading as possible before the program begins. 
 
Many students on this program have never surfed before and this program provides an excellent opportunity to learn.  We stress safety in the water and start the program with two professional surf lessons.  Participants in the program will have the opportunity to surf most days.  Surfing is an optional activity and not a required part of the program.  However, because experiential learning is a key element of the program, those not interested in surfing should work with the instructors to define some other activity in which to participate that is related to surfing and that complements the learning outcomes of the program.
 
The Surfing & Sustainability program fulfills several UGA General Education Core Curriculum requirements, University-wide requirements, and Franklin College requirements. 

In this program, students will explore these issues on the ground (and in the water), receiving 6 credits in 2 course offerings: Communities, Conservation, and Development (ANTH/GEOG 4275/6275) and the Anthropology of Surfing (ANTH4900/6900).

Surfing student

Program Location

During the Surfing & Sustainability program, we will travel up the Pacific coast of Costa Rica from Uvita in the south to Witch’s Rock in the north (see program itinerary below).  During this time we will visit a broad range of communities which have been affected by the rapid growth of surf tourism and the development that goes along with it.  We will be staying at or visiting some of the premier surf breaks in Costa Rica, and some of the most beautiful beaches anywhere in the world.  Toward the end of the program we will spend a few days at the UGA Campus in San Luis, where we will visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Academic Program

Applicant interviews are required and will be scheduled as applications are received.  No letters of recommendation are required.

Students in the Surfing & Sustainability program will take two courses for a total of six credits:

Communities, Conservation & Development on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast (ANTH/GEOG 4275/6275)
The Anthropology of Surfing (ANTH 4285/6285)

Course Description: Communities, Conservation & Development on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast (ANTH/GEOG 4275/6275)
 
Over the last few decades Costa Rica has come to be recognized globally as an icon of successful conservation.  In the process, conservation and the tourism associated with it have made major contributions to the Costa Rican economy.  However, Costa Rica now faces a number of challenges that threaten to undermine the progress it has made.  In coastal areas in particular, rapid development is affecting both ecosystems and local community livelihoods.
 
This course will focus on the effects of coastal development on both conservation and local communities in Costa Rica.  During the program we will travel to a number of national parks and reserves along the coast.  We will also visit sites of rapid coastal development – resorts, large housing tracts and gated communities.  In the process we will meet with people representing different viewpoints on trends in coastal development.  Course assignments will focus on integrating what you are learning experientially with literature on the anthropology and political ecology of conservation and development.
 
Students will be encouraged to reflect on and analyze the complex challenges of balancing conservation and development in Costa Rica.  The key focus of this course will be to provide students with a series of conceptual tools that allow them to do this.  Among the most important conceptual tools are:

  • Pluralistic frameworks for acknowledging the complexity of conservation and development
  • The political ecology of conservation and development
  • The concept of integrative conservation 

For those taking the course as a Graduate or Honors option (ANTH 6242), in addition to being responsible for the same assignments as undergraduates, graduate students taking this course will be required to produce a 15-page research paper on a topic of their choice, chosen in consultation with the instructor.

 
Course Topics: ANTH/GEOG 4275/6275

  1. Introduction to Communities, Conservation and Development on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast
  2. Conservation in Costa Rica
  3. Political Ecology of Conservation and Development
  4. Tourism and Ecotourism
  5. Exurbanization and Coastal Development
  6. Local Communities and Conservation
  7. Mangroves and Shrimp Aquaculture
  8. The Role of Local Knowledge in Conservation
  9. Sea Turtle Conservation
  10. Conservation and the Politics of Knowledge
  11. Marketing Costa Rica
  12. Ecology of Golf
  13. Conservation in Santa Rosa National Park
  14. Incorporating Landscape History in Conservation Planning and Implementation
  15. Connectivity and Restoration 

Course Description: The Anthropology of Surfing (ANTH 4285/6285)
 
Surfing is simultaneously a sport, a lifestyle, and an iconic part of American and global popular culture.  It is also an ideal lens for analyzing a range of contemporary cultural processes associated with globalization.  This course will introduce you to surfing as a globalizing cultural phenomenon.  We will begin by learning about the history of surfing, particularly as it has become increasingly internationalized in recent decades.  We will also focus on a range of specific topics: surf culture and the idea of lifestyle, the production of recreational spaces, branding and the commodification of surfing, surf tourism, surfing and gender, localism and travel, surf knowledge, contest culture, and more.
 
This course will emphasize an ethnographic approach to the study of surfing.  During our time in Costa Rica we will be traveling to multiple locations where surfing is a dominant activity, and we will be interacting on a daily basis with surfers from Costa Rica, the US and elsewhere.  Through both guided observations and daily encounters, we will document our experiences through a series of written and visual assignments.
 
Students will focus their efforts on learning the art and science of ethnographic observation through a range of guided and individual activities focused on surfing in Costa Rica.  In doing so, the process is as important as the product.  That is to say, the heart and soul of ethnographic observation is active seeing and listening, and much of our time in Costa Rica will be devoted to learning that process.  We will approach ethnographic observation as a collaborative project; sharing and reflecting on our observations on a daily basis.  Through journaling, the keeping of ethnographic field notes, and other written and visual assignments, students will track their progress from initial observation, to written description, to analysis.
 
For those taking the course as a Graduate or Honors option (ANTH 6242), in addition to being responsible for the same assignments as undergraduates, graduate students taking this course will be required to produce a 15-page research paper on a topic of their choice, chosen in consultation with the instructor.
 
Course Topics: ANTH 4285/6285

  1. Introduction to the Anthropology of Surfing
  2. Doing Collaborative Ethnographic Research
  3. The History of Surfing
  4. Surf Culture and the Idea of Lifestyle
  5. Sustainable Surf Tourism
  6. Branding and the Commodification of Surfing
  7. Making Surf Breaks: The Production of Recreational Space
  8. The Contradictions of Surf Culture: Localism and Travel
  9. Surf Knowledge
  10. Soul Surfing and Contest Culture
  11. Women in the Line-up: Surfing and Gender
  12. Next Steps in the Collaborative Ethnographic Analysis of Surfing
  13. Discussion of Findings in Ethnography of Surfing 
Video by Cory Hire.

Housing and Meals

During most of the program we will be staying at small, locally-owned hotels.  Almost all meals are included in the program, though students should be prepared to pay for 2-3 meals during the program.  Breakfasts are typically at our hotel, while lunches and dinners are mostly at local restaurants.  This program can accommodate all food preferences (vegetarian, vegan, etc.)

Tentative Itinerary

  • San Jose > Uvita
  • Uvita and Dominical
  • Jaco and Playa Hermosa
  • Malpais/Santa Teresa
  • Playa Guiones/Nosara
  • Playa Negra/Playa Avellanes
  • Playa Grande
  • Liberia
  • Santa Rosa National Park/Witch’s Rock
  • UGA Costa Rica Campus, San Luis, Monteverde 

Course Leaders

Dr. Pete Brosius, Department of Anthropology & Center for Integrative Conservation Research

Pete Brosius received his MA at the University of Hawaii and Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. He is Professor of Anthropology and Founding Director of the Center for Integrative Conservation Research at UGA, where he has taught since 1992. Much of his career has been devoted to research in island Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines and Malaysia. He has worked with several groups of indigenous people, particularly Penan hunter-gatherers in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. His research has mostly focused on the political ecology of conservation and on issues related to the interdisciplinary study of sustainability. He has taught Study Abroad Programs Indonesia, Fiji and Costa Rica.
 
Tara Ruttenberg

Tara Ruttenberg is a sustainability consultant, writer and graduate student specializing in sustainable surf tourism and alternatives to development in surfing destinations. Tara has lived, studied, and surfed in Costa Rica for more than a decade, and has worked as Program Assistant for the Surfing & Sustainability program for going on six years. She created Tarantula Surf (www.tarantulasurf.com) as an online platform for authentic story sharing and engaging with new social paradigms in surfing communities and beyond.

Please find more information about the Surfing & Sustainability Program on the GoAbroad Portal & on our Facebook page.                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Scholarships

UGA Foundation Incentive Scholarship for Study Abroad
OIE General Scholarship

*Program fee

Program fees cover all lodging in-country, three meals per day, travel insurance, and all sponsored in-country transportation and entry fees. They do not include UGA in-state tuition† and fees, personal purchases, and international airfare. For more information on tuition and fees, please visit the UGA Bursar's website.

* The final program fee is subject to student enrollment.
† Note: Out-of-state students pay in-state tuition. Additionally, the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships apply to those who are eligible.