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San Jose, San Vito de Coto Brus, Liberia, Costa Rica

Program Description

The “Global Nutrition: A Costa Rican Experience” study abroad program examines global nutrition from a systems perspective including economic, socio-political, environmental, and agricultural factors.

This study abroad option fulfills the credits for NUTR-380 (3 credits), which is also offered on-campus in the Fall and Spring semesters, and has previously been offered online during Summer sessions. The added benefit of taking this course in Costa Rica is that it will allow students to experience the key concepts of global nutrition first hand by being immersed in different scenarios (urban, rural, humid tropics, dry tropics, different socioeconomic and development settings) that will highlight the within country differences in Costa Rica but also allow for between country comparisons with the United States and other countries. Concepts of transformative learning pedagogy will be applied throughout the course to allow students to take ownership of their study abroad experience, and to contribute to their development as global citizens.

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to: 

1. Understand the impact of globalization on nutrition, development and environmental health, in the context of the sustainable development goals. 

2. Discuss the interrelationships among social and cultural values, agricultural practices, economic status, political philosophies, religious beliefs, health benefits, education and nutritional status of people worldwide. 

3. Describe food practices and resulting nutritional status of people in selected parts of the world. 

4. Describe the factors resulting in and consequences of inadequate nutrition of people, especially women and children, around the world. 

Location Description

Costa Rica is an ideal scenario to study global nutrition from a systems perspective for several reasons:

  • It has a well-known and respected universal healthcare system based on the principles of solidarity.

  • Agriculture is still an important component of the Costa Rican economy, and currently there are many examples of good practices but also of agricultural practices that need to be improved.

  • It is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, and there is great emphasis on natural resource management. 

  • There is previous research regarding the stage in which Costa Rica finds itself in the context of the Nutrition Transition as well as the Epidemiological Transition.

  • A region in northern Costa Rica has been designated as a “Blue Zone” (regions in the world with greater longevity). 

  • It is a small country that can be traveled in short periods of time to expose students to different scenarios.

  • Students can be immersed in local communities for educational purposes in a safe manner.

  • Costa Rica is a wonderful country with friendly people and great food! It is also unique in that it abolished its military about 7 decades ago, and placed great emphasis in the educational system and its universal healthcare system in order for the country to thrive.


A. Laura Dengo | | Department of Health Professions


While in San Jose: students will stay in hotels (double occupancy rooms).

Outside of San Jose: accommodations will be provided in dorms located in research/academic institutions. Students will be in shared double rooms and have internet access. Laundry service is also available.

All of the meals will be provided as a part of the program.

Additional Items to Consider

Visas are not required for US citizens. Students of other nationalities will have to check if their country has a visa requirement to travel to Costa Rica.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Some Spanish is helpful, but not required.

Juniors or seniors

Open to all students, but students in Dietetics, Health Sciences, Environmental Humanities, and Humanitarian Affairs will be given priority.

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short essay
  • Resume
  • Interview with Program Director may be required 
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU and first semester transfer students.

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

Program Closed.

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


NUTR 380 : Global Nutrition (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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