Coursework

The University of Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning is pleased to offer the summer Sustainable Futures Study Abroad Program in Monteverde, Costa Rica. This is interdisciplinary program in architecture, landscape architecture and planning involves five university partners and the Monteverde Institute.

The ten week course of study is designed to offer university students the opportunity to live and work in a rural, but rapidly developing region on the Pacific slope in Costa Rica. This is a “service learning” engagement where studio work is focused on projects identified by the community and are concerned with creating futures that are ecologically and socially just.

This multi-disciplinary program uses practice as a learning approach, and introduces intervention theory as the organizing perspective: how to organize to do work and how to engage a diverse and complex community in place-making. The work focuses on generating responses to the community requests for purposes of public dialogue. The design/planning studio that serves as the primary structure of the experience uses method of small group interactions, team construction on project work, individual critiques and public reviews.

As a student you are required to maintain multiple levels of responsibility. You are a foreign student, a visiting student, asking to participate in the life of a different culture. You have a responsibility to your own country to be a good representative, and a responsibility to those gracious enough to welcome us to be open and courteous. Further, and unlike many studio and course experiences in the states, you are going to be in the center of this community. You’ll be visible and in active dialogue with members of some parts of the community. In your interactions and in your work, you must maintain a professional level of accountability to these people, to your faculty, to your colleagues, and of course, to yourself. This complex balancing act is a part of the practicum experience of this summer abroad program, and will be one of the most important learning experiences of the summer.

This is a very dense experience. You are doing essentially one semester of work in 10 weeks while living in a different culture away from the structures and people that daily support you. It will be intense and everybody should expect to have trouble coping at times — we know we will. So we’ll need to support each other in real ways.

Studio and classes are held at the Monteverde Institute, located in the rural region of Monteverde in the Tileran mountains of Costa Rica. The village of Monteverde is located next the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, one of the most frequently visited eco-tourist destinations in Costa Rica.

The Headquarters Building of the Institute houses its administration and education facilities. The concept for the building was designed in the Sustainable Futures course and subsequent years worked on the building. Studio space is provided, but each student is required to provide their own laptop and drafting equipment just as in the United States. In addition to wireless internet, the Institute has printing, plotting, and scanning facilities.

Program Courses:
Studio / Practicum: 6-7 credits
Sustainable Design and Planning: 3 credits
Research Seminar: 2 credits
Spanish: 1 credit

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