Humboldt State University [link]

Next Program: May 26-June 15, 2015


howler monkey in tree


This 6-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. See reading list below.


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: TBA


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: TBA



capuchin monkey


Primate Behavior workbook cover
There 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.