Firsthand Research: Tropical Biology Class Takes Students to Costa Rica

Nebraska Wesleyan students interested in tropical biology are easily intrigued by their textbook readings and classroom instruction on the topic. But relocating the class to Costa Rica for three weeks often solidifies their interest.

Thirteen NWU biology students will travel to Costa Rica in January for a tropical biology class, which includes reef and volcano tours, hiking, and whale and dolphin watching. Students will also conduct independent research at a mid-elevation rainforest biological station.

“This Costa Rica experience exposes students to multiple global phenomena,” said Associate Professor of Biology Cody Arenz, noting that students are initially struck by the differences in food, roads, housing and language. “I think it is important to recognize global connectedness of cultures and the ecology that is both tied to and being harmed by humans.”

This year’s class marks the first time in five years that Arenz has taken students to Costa Rica. He hopes to offer the class every two years knowing firsthand how the experience has impacted his students.

“Students claim that it is one of the most important educational experiences that they have at NWU,” said Arenz. “Last time a student claimed it was the best experience of their life. Another student said it was the most fun they had ever had learning.”

The students will study in Costa Rica from January 3-17.