Humboldt State University [link]




Next Program: Summer 2015


howler monkey in tree


This 9-unit program consists of three, three-unit courses:

These courses include lectures, discussions, field trips and independent research projects. In Costa Rica, many "lectures" will be held in situ rather than in a traditional classroom setting, and a few talks will be given by local Costa Ricans. Participation is obviously vital for all courses.

In addition, students will learn how to use many of the techniques anthropologists employ while conducting field research. Traditional lectures will be supplemented by hands-on learning and field observation. Informal seminar-style discussions will also occur throughout the course to monitor students’ progress, and to facilitate individual analysis of events and lectures.


There are several textbooks as required readings for the courses. These readings will be supplemented with articles.


Students will be evaluated and grades assigned in the same manner as for standard HSU on-campus courses.


  • Do not be late for any class and attend every class – no exceptions (unless you have a dire emergency, of course). Too much information will be presented each day to be able to catch up. This program will be more intense than regular academic year courses because you will be in class all day, every day, and because the program takes place in situ.
  • Extra credit will not be available, so please plan accordingly. Take the dates of the exams and paper and presentation deadlines seriously; no make-up exams will be available and I cannot accept late work on this program.
  • Take a lot of notes (in fact, you can’t take too many notes). Everything you see and hear is game for exams. Information that is not outlined in your text books will be presented. Please note that you are responsible for remembering all due dates.
  • Evidence of plagiarism means you flunk, but you know that already, and we don’t expect this to be a problem. Make sure you cite any idea that isn’t yours in your papers (if you don’t, it’s called plagiarism).
  • Turn in hard copies of your work only. Assignments may be typed (in the computer lab at the field station) or hand-written.
  • Participate and listen. Please get to know one another well and respect each other’s opinions. We will be a close-knit group for three weeks. Polite disagreement and varied opinions are the spice of life; insensitivity will be the bane of our existence.
  • Please bring several notebooks and pens with you to Costa Rica (and you should bring "write in the rain" notebooks for field days).


ANTH 339:

This course provides an introduction to the living nonhuman primates at the La Selva Biological Field Station and training in primate behavioral data collection field techniques. We will also discuss primate and rainforest conservation in light of ecotourism issues and development in Costa Rica. When you complete these two courses you should be able to:

  • Recognize the three species of primates at La Selva and have a good grasp (so to speak) of the natural history of each
  • Create an ethogram for a primate species
  • Successfully employ several behavioral data collection techniques
  • Understand primate adaptations, social organization
  • Discuss key issues surrounding primate and rainforest conservation

Note: Please review the forces of evolution (natural selection, gene flow, genetic drift and mutation) early on in the course on your own to make sure you have a good understanding of each. I will assume that each of you has a working knowledge of evolutionary forces.

Grades and Assignments:

  • La Selva Primate Project (30%)
  • Essay Exam Questions (30%)
  • La Selva Field Journal (20%)
  • Participation (20%)

Your second field project will be based on your behavioral data collection efforts at La Selva. This project will use techniques that you learn in the field. It will be due 27 June.

The exam questions will consist of questions based on lectures, readings and in-class discussion. We will expect you to incorporate class material into your responses.

For each day that you are in the forest at La Selva, you will be expected to keep a daily field journal. This journal will consist of field notes – some formal, and many collected ad libitum. This journal should not be a personal diary, and should contain only field observations (note that this journal will contain your scan and focal animal samples as well). Descriptions of what to include in your field journal will be provided during the first days at La Selva.


ANTH 339:

This course provides an introduction to the habitats of the three New World primates you will be studying (howler, spider and capuchin monkeys). Topics include rainforest nutrient cycles, deforestation and fragmentation effects, interspecific competition and ecological research techniques. This class will help you to:

  • Recognize basic patterns in dry, moist and wet tropical ecosystems
  • Identify specific conservation issues occurring in the tropics
  • See, feel and understand the uniqueness of tropical forests
  • Learn about the abiotic features that give rise to tropical ecosystems
  • Incorporate social, economic and political issues that affect rainforest conservation
  • Increase your understanding of plant and animal interactions
  • Improve your awareness of the importance of tropical ecosystems for our planet

Grades and Assignments:

  • Ecosystem Group Presentation (35%)
  • Exam questions (40%)
  • Participation (25%)

The exam questions will consist of questions based on lectures, readings and in-class discussion. We will expect you to incorporate class material into your responses.

The group presentation consists of presenting a short performance (e.g., debate) based on a hypothetical example of an ecological process. Students will work in groups of four. Creativity is encouraged (e.g., puppets, props). Each presentation must be ten minutes long.



capuchin monkey

ANTH 306:

This course will examine Costa Rican culture, history and development. We will analyze the impacts of ethnicity, class and gender experiences in various cultural practices, interpret cultural expression in its broadest political sense, and discuss the cultural identity, ethnic diversity and struggle for political autonomy for Costa Ricans. More specifically, in this course we hope to:

  • better understand what it means to be “Tico” or “Tica”
  • discuss modern cultural practices in Costa Rica as they relate to development
  • explore Costa Rican political history and its modern cultural correlates
  • place Costa Rica into the context of environmental and global change
  • question the viability of different concepts of “sustainable development”
  • evaluate hypotheses relating to tourism and the "commodification of culture”

Anthropology 306 is a General Education (Area D - Upper Division) course and has been designed with GE goals in mind. This course should help you to further develop your ability to think and communicate clearly and effectively and to gain a better understanding of the human experience through the examination of culture and human interaction.

Grades, Assignment and Due Dates:

  • Class Presentation (20%)
  • Exam questions (30%)
  • Short Essays (two) (10%)
  • Journal (20%)
  • Participation (20%)

From the day you leave the States, you will be expected to keep a daily journal where you reflect upon your experiences of each day. This journal should not be a personal diary. Instead, you should (1) provide a short description of the events of the day, and an interpretation of them, noting anything that was significant (or even frustrating) for you, and explaining why, and (2) address specific issues or questions, which will be provided to you. Each entry does not have to be many pages long, but there must be something written for each day in Costa Rica. You can incorporate material presented in the lectures in your journal.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Your first 306 assignment is a three-page (double-spaced, typed) preconception paper describing your preconceived notions of what Costa Rica will be like and your expectations for your upcoming experience. This is due at the beginning our first meeting on the June 9. Please note that you will not get credit for this assignment if you hand it in after this date.

Your last 306 assignment related to this course is a three-page essay describing how your experience matched or didn't match your expectations and why. This is due the last day in the field (June 27).

The exam questions for 306 will consist of questions based on lectures, readings and in-class discussion. You will be expected to incorporate class material into your responses.


Primate Behavior workbook coverThere are several textbooks as required readings for the courses. These readings will be supplemented with articles. Develop an intense familiarity with the issues covered in the readings early on in the program so that you can better understand the lectures and ask intelligent questions. All assigned readings are required and are designed to supplement lectures and provide background information. Readings should be incorporated into your exam essay questions, but should not be the sole basis for your answers.



Patterson, J. D. 2001. Primate Behavior: An Exercise Workbook, 2nd edition. Waveland Press.

Kricher, J.C. 1999. A Neotropical Companion: An Introduction to the Animals, Plants and Ecosystems of the New World Tropics. Princeton University Press.

Hunter, L., and Andrew, D. 2002. Watching Wildlife: Central America. Lonely Planet Publications.

Biesanz, M.H., Biesanz, R., and Biesanz, K.Z. 1998. The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica. Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Wallerstein, C. 2007. Culture Shock! Costa Rica: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette. Marshall Cavendish Corporation.

Kohls, L.R. 2001. Survival Kit for Overseas Living, 4th edition. Intercultural Press. (for ANTH 485)

Howard, C. 2005. Guide to Costa Rican Spanish. Costa Rica Books.


Strier, K.B. 2006. Primate Behavioral Ecology, 3rd edition. Allyn and Bacon.

Whitmore, T.C. 1998. An Introduction to Tropical Rainforests. Oxford UP.