Course Description

Course Name

Environmental Impact and Social Development

Session: VSJW1122

Hours & Credits


Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Course name: Environmental Impact and Social Development
Course code: ENV 3005
Total contact hours: 60 hours

This course is an Introduction to the study of major environmental problems and issues confronting modern society. Students will examine Ecosystems, population patterns and dynamics; use and misuse of resources; population and environmental quality; environmental citizenship and economic incentives and Costa Rican initiatives in eco-tourism.

- Introduce the student to environmental problems and their socio-economical implications in Latin America, using Costa Rica as an example.
- Study current and actual cases about conservation and management of biodiversity and Wildlife.
- Visit different environments in the topics where the relationship between environment and society will be studied.

We will attempt to follow the pedagogical methodology in the PAULO FREIRE sensu, mainly by means of the dialogue. This means any subject will be presented using handout materials, and eventually questions will be asked prompting and motivating participation. Also, some videos will be used in an interactive way. It will be necessary to read some papers or chapters of books. It is expected that students will participate actively through questions, answers or comments during the classes.
Students will learn by:
1. Active participation doing research in an interesting subject.
2. Observation and analytical discussion of videos.
3. Creating comparative tables between traditional and non-traditional agriculture or among lodging, fisheries and mining regarding items such as: origin, history, economy, labor force, chemistry uses, level and examples of actual case studies.
4. Participating in two field trips in rural areas of the country. On site practicing exercises will allow students open their minds for a better and deeper
understanding of Latin American problems regarding environment and
There is a mainframe timetable with subjects for 60-68 hrs, as a 4 credits elective
course. This timetable is given during first week of classes, after obtaining
student's expectations.
In the lab two week-end field trips usually will be done, and each one will have its
field trip plan and program according certain pre-determined aims in class.

This course is structured for International Students attending the Study Abroad
program at Universidad Veritas. However, courses are not exclusive to foreigners
so a few native student could enroll in this course.

Electronic devices:
The use of cell phones, smart phones, or other mobile communication
devices is disruptive, and is therefore prohibited during class. Please turn
all devices OFF and put them away when class begins. Devices may be
used ONLY when the professor assigns a specific activity and allows the
use of devices for internet search or recording. Those who fail to comply
with the rule must leave the classroom for the remainder of the class period.

Students are only allowed 2 absences (justified or not). The student will fail the
course if he/she has more than 2 absences. Students will have a 0 on any
assignment evaluated in class (presentations, evaluations, field trips, etc.) if he/she
is absent in this class, unless an official document is presented to justify the
absence the class after the absence. In this case the assignment will be done this
day. An unjustified absence to a fieldtrip will immediately mean failing the
course. You can only have two total absences in your elective courses
HOWEVER, if you miss more than one day of class in a given month, YOU
WILL NOT RECEIVE CREDIT for that particular course.

Professors have the right to expel a student from the classroom should he / she:
1) be disruptive in the classroom
2) be under the influence of alcohol or even smell like alcohol
3) Behave in a disrespectful way.
If you tend to be late for class, you will lose 25% of your total grade

Units (theory):
1. Introduction to the natural history of Costa Rica: Its origin, geomorphology, climate, life zones, biodiversity and main ecosystems.
2. Development and environment in Costa Rica: Urban growth and industrial development, agriculture and agro-businesses, ranching, forestry and timber industry, different development kinds, some info about tourism development and coastal & marine development, tourism development.
3. Environmental management: SINAC1, Protected Areas' management, environmentally friendly agriculture and ranching, eco-tourism, refuge management, clean production and other means of production and their environmental impact.
4. Environmental legislation: National Laws and Policies, International Conservation Policies, National Strategy for Biodiversity Conservation, International Trade, Conservation History, Fisheries regulations, brief info about international trade, threatened, endangered and exotic species regulation.
5. Ecological economy: Economic valuation of natural resources, economics for sustainability, PSA2 and biodiversity prospection.
6. Environmental Impact Studies: Definition, components of an EIA, study cases.
1. Caribbean and Pacific slopes social development and environmental impact.
2. Bananas history as an important production mean.
3. Coffee socio-cultural importance and organic production.
4. Indigenous and conservation.
5. Wildlife farms and conservation.
The mandatory fieldtrips in this course are not excursions. Only students enrolled in this course may attend. Field work might include volunteer work such as trail cleaning, late night species monitoring, long walks on beaches or dense vegetation areas and other tasks that might be considered harsh or strenuous for students who have not taken an environmental science course or have not done fieldwork. Students must be on time for all fieldtrip related activities including departure, return and scheduled meal times. All though many of the reserves and parks have nearby modest lodge accommodations some of the stations or research areas might require tent lodging. Some of the national parks and reserves are in far away areas of the country or places with difficult access so students who get motion sickness from long bus rides might be uncomfortable in these fieldtrips.

Active Participation (classes, h-w, field trips in the city) 20 %
1 Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación
2 Pago de Servicios Ambientales
Field trip (two field trips) reports and discussion 15 %
Readings and discussions 15 %
Term paper (oral and written) 20 %
Quiz 10 %
Final exam 20 %
Active participation:
Students are expected to attend to classes and field trips are mandatory unless justified according University absentee policies. During classes and fieldtrips comments, questions, and oral reflex ions will be stimulated. Motivation is desired.
Readings and discussions:
Some readings will be discussed during the classes, and also some controversial debates will be conducted.
Term paper:
The term paper is based on research conducted through interviews, field experiences and documented information. This work can be done in groups of 2 or individually.

Browder, J. 0. 1989. Development alternatives for tropical rain forests. Environment and the Poor: Development Strategies for a Common Agenda. H. Jeffrey Leonard and contributors (comp.). U.S. -Third World Policy Perspectives, No. 11. Overseas Development Council. 222 pp. USA.
Campbell, T. 1989. Environmental dilemmas and the urban poor, chapter 5. Environment and the Poor: Development Strategies for a Common Agenda. H. Jeffrey Leonard and contributors (comp.). U.S. -Third World Policy Perspectives, No. 11. Overseas Development Council. 222 pp. USA.
Capra, F. 2000. Ecology, community and agriculture. Center for Ecoliteracy. USA.
Diamond, J. 2005. Collapse: How societes choose to fail or succeed. Penguin Groups, New York, USA.
Farrell, J & Twining-Ward, C. 2005. Seven Steps Towards Sustainability: Tourism in the Context of New Knowledge. Journal of sustainable tourism, 13(2):109-122.
Parrish, J., R. Reitsma & R. Greenberg. 1998. Cacao as Crop and Conservation Tool: Lessons from the Talamanca Region of Costa Rica. Wings of the Americas Program, The Nature Conservancy. 16 pp. USA.
PNUD-GEF. 2000. National Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity. Costa Rica.
Ramírez-Solera, A. & Maldonado-Ulloa, T. 1991. Desarrollo Socio-económico y el Ambiente Natural de Costa Rica. Fundación Neotrópica. Imp. y Lito. García Hermanos S.A, 159 pp. San José, Costa Rica.
Estado de la Nación. Each year a report is published on October.

*Course content subject to change