Central American Experience Fall Semester

Semester Abroad program in San José, Costa Rica
FALL 2015

APPLY HERE: Office of Study Abroad


Tulane’s Central American Experience @ CIAPA introduces students to a region of the world fascinating in its historical, geographical, and biological diversity, and closely tied to the United States and the Gulf South. Based at Tulane’s CIAPA campus in San José, Costa Rica, students will take courses in Central American politics and culture from a regional perspective, participate in internships in San José, and visit field sites throughout Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Admission Requirements

All applicants to the Central American Experience @ CIAPA program must meet the following criteria:
  • Students must have completed Spanish 2030 or its equivalent.
  • Meet all eligibility requirements for study abroad in Newcomb-Tulane College.
  • A completed application on the Tulane Study Abroad web site.

Academic Program of the Central American Experience @ CIAPA

The academic program of the Central American Experience @ CIAPA capitalizes on San José‘s strategic location in Central America, and on Costa Rica’s successful track record in human rights, social policy, and environmental conservation, as well as its outsized role in international affairs. San José is home to several innovative national and regional institutions open to student interns and researchers, and also is an excellent point of departure to explore the geographic, biological, and historical diversity of Costa Rica and nearby Nicaragua.

The proposed course of study is as follows:

Courses: Students will be enrolled in 5 courses and participate in a 3-credit Internship course. All courses are based on experiential learning.

1. POLI 3520: International Organizations in Costa Rica
This course will focus on the role of international institutions in shaping relations among states in the international system. It will look at the history and role of multilateral organizations from both a global and regional perspective, considering their impact upon human rights, and the management of transnational affairs, including trade, arms and drug trafficking, criminal networks, and the environment. Located in San José, Costa Rica, the course will capitalize on Costa Rica’s role as the seat of several regional and international organizations, including the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture, United Nations Development Program, International Labor Organization, Peace University and others. It will also build on the country’s outsized role in international affairs, from its brokering of the peace accords that ended regional conflicts in the 1980s, to its pioneering efforts to promote an international treaty regulating trade in small arms, among others.

2. POLS 4560 Service Internship
This seminar is designed for students participating in an intensive public service internship. The goal of this course is to offer opportunities for students to discuss their internship experience, reflect on the significance of public service, explore how academic knowledge can efficiently be applied outside of the classroom, and facilitate individual growth and career development. Students will be placed in an internship in their particular area of interest and expertise. Internship possibilities in San José include but are not limited to:
ACORDE: A non-profit organization whose mission and work is to provide access to credit for people with scarce resources that are small entrepreneurs. It is essentially a micro-lending organization.
IFED/TSE: A governmental agency whose mission and work is to develop programming for civic education and democratic participation.
FUNDACIÓN ACCIÓN JOVEN: A non-profit organization whose mission and work is to reduce the dropout rate in public elementary and high schools that serve children from marginalized communities.
FUNPADEM: A non-profit organization whose mission is to promote actions that sustain a culture of peace, freedom, and democracy within Costa Rica.
CLÃ┬ŹNICA BIBLICA: The main private hospital and clinical medical care network serving the metropolitan San José community.
JEWISH MUSEUM OF COSTA RICA: A non-profit organization dedicated to the dissemination and commemoration of Jewish life, culture, and history in Costa Rica.

3. POLC 3310 Governments of Central America
This course will focus on the current state of Central American politics and society by analyzing the social and political forces at play in the region, the challenges of its economic development, and its external interaction with the United States and other world regions. Although regional in its scope, the course will rely on individual countries to exemplify particular issues confronting the region.

4. COMM 4300 Media and Democracy in Latin America
This course examines the role of mass media in contemporary Latin American democracies. In particular, it investigates whether communication industries and practices have contributed to promote or to impede democratic consolidation in the region, especially in terms of the quality of political representation and political accountability.

5. LAST 4950 Politics of Migration
From the colonization of the continent up to the present, countries in North and South America have been receiving communities of migrants from all over the world. This course will focus on international migration flows to and within the Americas, with a special focus on Central America. The course will be oriented by three main themes: theories of international migration, immigrant adaptation, assimilation and incorporation, and international migration policies.

6. Spanish language course
Students will be placed based on their language level.

Campus Life at CIAPA:

CIAPA (Centro de Investigación y Adiestramiento Político y Administrativo) was founded in 1974 to promote academic and public policy research in the social sciences and Latin America. It was conceived as a center for research and intellectual endeavors and as a forum for the study, debate, and analysis of the issues impacting the social, economic, and political development of Latin American countries. In 1975, Tulane University partnered with CIAPA to create an academic “think tank” whose mission then was to contribute to the modernization of the Costa Rican state.

The CIAPA campus occupies two and a half acres (92,000 square feet) in the suburb of Curridabat, about 20 minutes by car from the eastern edge of San José and on the roads east to Cartago and Irazú. Surrounded by green areas in a quiet neighborhood, within sight of old coffee farms, it provides a suitable environment for contemplation and studying. Yet, it is easily accessible and witihin reach of most metropolitan amenities and major universities such as the Universidad de Costa Rica and the Universidad Autónoma de Centro América.

Students at CIAPA will have access to:
  • Semi-private double rooms
  • Wireless Internet
  • Laundry on-site
  • Membership to the state of the art Multispa gymnasium facilities in Cipreses, located less than 2 miles from campus.
  • Easy access to San José
  • Access to Tulane’s Howard-Tilton Memorial Library’s electronic resources


All students will be introduced to the complexity and beauty of Central America through a variety of field trips and activities in Costa Rica and also during a week-long field trip to neighboring Nicaragua. Some field trips and activities include:
  • Tours of the forest preserves, national parks, beaches and volcanoes that comprise the diversity of the Costa Rican geography and environment.
  • A tour of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica and other government institutions, including, where possible, audiences with Costa Rican government officials.
  • Field trips to international organizations based in or around San José such as UNESCO, ILO, UNDP, and Peace University.
  • A week-long field research trip to study immigration and Central American politics in Nicaragua.
  • A week-long homestay program in rural Costa Rica.

Cost of the Program
As with all study abroad programs at Tulane, all students are charged Tulane University tuition and the Academic Support Fee for the semester while studying abroad for academic credit. In addition, Tulane University meets the full need of students eligible for financial aid, whether they are studying at Tulane or abroad. Students can apply their financial aid awards – including their full Tulane scholarships – towards their program abroad. For more information on this policy, please visit the Newcomb-Tulane Office of Study Abroad – specifically the page on Financial Policies.

Program Fee for Central American Experience at CIAPA

The program fee for the Central American Experience @ CIAPA is $5,600 and includes room and board at the CIAPA facility which includes a semi-private room and bathroom, wireless internet service, laundry on-site, two meals per day at the CIAPA facility and special event meals, and group transportation to and from the San José airport.