Muhlenberg Interdisciplinary Program In Costa Rica

SUS 350 (MILA): Community Sustainability in Costa Rica, Muhlenberg College 

In this interdisciplinary course, students explore sustainable problems, solutions, and responses in the rural Costa Rican Community of Las Juntas, Costa Rica. During the spring semester, students develop projects and prepare for the two-week study/research travel experience to Costa Rica at the end of May. This preparation includes study of the area’s ecological diversity; political, cultural and social issues; and research skills. In Costa Rica, students explore a variety of habitats, live in and interact with members of a small town (Las Juntas), and conduct both community-based research and service. Research projects must integrate at least two aspects of sustainability including the ecology and biodiversity, environmental issues, economic development, social justice, culture, and/or public health of the community. The can include scientific and social science research as well as art and documentary projects. One of the objectives of the program is to remove the blinders of specific discipline-based learning and of our own culture to show that if we are to develop humane relationships and lasting solutions, we must consider the environment in relation to the people who live in it.  


  • A focus on project and community based learning
  • Incredible travel experience
  • Integrated living/learning in a small non-touristic community
  • Hike jungles, climb volcanoes, see monkeys, and experience the rainforest
  • Small group interaction with faculty and local experts
  • Visits to schools, medical clinics, and conservation sites
  • Taught by Muhlenberg Faculty with expertise in Sustainability form the perspective of different disciplines

Rich Niesenbaum with Carlos Fonseca and Elieth Montoya

This program is part of a collaborative project between Muhlenberg College and the Community of Las Juntas de Abangares in Costa Rica.  Our partners, Carlos Fonseca and Elieth Montoya, are committed environmentalists and are dedicated to sustainable community development and the preservation of nature, culture and history. They have more than 10 years of experience in program development in Costa Rica.  For more information about their programs see their web page at:

Learn more about our partners’ Sierre Alta LodgeAirBNB: 

Sierra Alta Lodge in Monteverde available through AirBNB