Embedded Spring: Tropical Environments and Society

La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica

Program Overview

Term Start Date End Date Application Deadline
Embedded Spring 2024
Mar 09, 2024
Mar 17, 2024
Dec 01, 2023
Language(s) of Instruction
Class Standing

Students are accepted on a rolling basis, first come first serve until program is full. 

Program Type


Program Advisor

The Program

The field experience will explore the impact of climate change and human activity on tropical landscapes.

Develop a broad understanding of the physical, ecological, biological, and social dimensions of tropical environments. Explore the challenges and issues confronting tropical environments and the people that call them home through multiple lenses, including climate and climate change, ecosystems and biodiversity, land use and conservation practices, and agriculture and food security. Conduct hands-on research related to the tropical environments surrounding you during this week-long field experience at La Selva Biological Research Station in Costa Rica, with projects focusing on the relations between the conservation areas of La Selva and its changing surroundings.

Tropical researcher holding bug in hand

Program Location

La Selva Bridge

Costa Rica

La Selva Research Station

La Selva Research Station is one of the premiere biological and ecological field study sites in the world, with a history dating back to the 1960's. A pioneer facility for forest conservation, La Selva sits within a complex biological, socioeconomic, and political landscape. Situated in the Caribbean lowland rainforest in northeastern Costa Rica, La Selva's environment has undergone significant transformation in the past few decades in response to an expanding agricultural frontier, human population, and major infrastructure. Protected areas, such as La Selva, provide a rich opportunity for studying how natural ecosystems respond to a broader landscape matrix of human uses.



This embedded study abroad course is a 1-credit, weeklong field experience conducted during Spring Break. 

This field experience, under the direction of Rutgers faculty members Professors Benjamin Lintner (SEBS-Environmental Sciences), Chloe Hawkings (SEBS-Entomology), Laura Schneider (SAS- Geography), and Lena Struwe (SEBS-Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources and Plant Biology), will explore the rich and biodiverse tropical rainforest ecosystem and consider how factors such as climate change and human disturbance are impacting it. Participating in hands-on research with course instructors, students will carry out hands-on, inquiry- and/or curiosity-driven research activities in groups and individually to foster a deeper appreciation of La Selva and its surroundings.

To read the 2024 syllabus for this course, click here. To view the 2023 course manual, click here.

For information about study abroad credit transfer, registration, and transcripts please visit the Academics section of our website.

La Selva is administered by the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS). OTS is a non-profit consortium of over fifty universities and research institutions worldwide and maintains educational and research facilities in three different countries but with a particular focus on Costa Rica. OTS has trained many of the world's leading ecologists and boasts an impressive faculty and endless opportunities for exploration.

Academic Calendar

This is a one-week program running during spring break. 

For the study abroad component of this class, these are the things you’ll need for greater success.  

  •  A curious attitude.  
  • An outdoorsy disposition. 
  • A willingness to go with the flow and problem solve.  
  • A good set of waterproofs and some broken in and sturdy hiking/walking boots

Embedded Spring

March 9

March 17

Housing and Meals

Students will share accommodations in “bunk-style” cabins, 4-6 students per cabin. Most meals will be provided by OTS.

Financial costs will be updated in the fall for 2024. 

Meals Included:

March 9th, 2024: Dinner

March 10th - 15th, 2024: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

March 16th, 2024: Breakfast

Students are responsible for all other meals. 


Financial Information

Program Costs

This is the billed amount that will appear on your Rutgers term bill during the term you study abroad.
All Students
Program Cost $1,750
Program Cost includes:

•    Tuition
•    Housing
•    Most meals
•    Program excursions
•    Administrative Fees
•    Emergency Medical Access Abroad

Out-of-Pocket Costs

These are estimated expenses that are not part of your term bill. Students will need to pay for these expenses out-of-pocket.
Airfare $600
Meals $60
Personal Expenses $100
Total $760.00
Out-of-Pocket Cost includes:

The above costs are estimations and represent the known out-of-pocket costs students encounter during their time abroad.
Some of these expenses will be paid for prior to going abroad, such as an airline ticket, while some of these expenses, such as meals and personal expenses, will be paid in-country as part of your daily expenses. As you plan, you will need to budget these costs and spend wisely throughout your time abroad.


Available to all Rutgers students participating in a Rutgers Global–Study Abroad program. Applications can be found inside of your study abroad program application. For more information, please visit the Scholarship section of our website.

 Available to SEBS students only.  For more information please visit the SEBS Scholarships web page.

Faculty Leader

Benjamin R. Lintner


Benjamin Lintner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and the Director of the Graduate Program in Atmospheric Science. His research focuses on tropical climate dynamics, in particular understanding the processes controlling the spatiotemporal distribution of rainfall. 

Email Professor Lintner at: blintner@envsci.rutgers.edu

lena Struwe

Lena Struwe is a professor in botany and evolutionary biology at SEBS, and does research within the fields of ethnobotany, tropical biodiversity, and plant evolution.  She is the director of Chrysler Herbarium and the Rutgers representative to Organization of Tropical Studies, a university consortium that runs three field stations in Costa Rica, where she has been many times.  Her projects include the iNaturalist-based Moths of Costa Rica, the worldwide Personal Bioblitz each spring, urban weeds and other asphalt jungle greenery, and botanical accuracy in commercial products and media.

Laura Schneider

Dr. Laura Schneider, an associate professor, specialized in land change science. Her research focuses on understanding changes in tropical landscapes using a socio-ecological systems approach. She is interested in measuring forest responses following environmental disturbances, monitoring and modeling tropical deforestation and re-growth, and mapping forest dynamics. Her research shows how tropical secondary forests are resilient to disturbances, and how rural landscapes are shaped by land management practices occurring under particular ecological contexts. It also demonstrates the importance of methods linking field data to regional characterizations using remotely sensed data in assessing ecosystem services.

Dr. Schneider has been studying tropical forests following environmental disturbances for over two decades. Her primary research sites have been in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, but she has also studied silvopastoral landscapes in the Ecuadorian Amazon and begun more recent research, supported by a Fulbright Distinguished Chair Award in Biodiversity, to study deforestation in Colombia. 

Xenia Morin

Dr Morin is interested in how the world feeds itself and is interested in agriculture's environmental impact.  Dr Morin runs the Agriculture and Food Systems Program at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

Chloe Hawkings

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology. I am interested in exploring behavioral adaptations of insects on a physiological level and how these adaptations have enabled the evolution of such incredible diversity. I am specifically interested in the behavior of eusocial insects and how they cooperate in a single community to meet a universal goal. Studying insects in a tropical environment gives us the best opportunity to study insects in their natural ecosystem and to witness diversity like nowhere else on the planet.