QERC Courses

Study Abroad at the Quetzal Educational Research Center with Southern Nazarene University

Applied Cultural Integration: Latin American Language, History, and Culture (3 credits)

ACI provides students at QERC with an opportunity to integrate the academic study of Latin American language, history and culture with direct observation and practical application of that knowledge in situ.  Students study Spanish formally with the aid of a qualified language instructor and practice it in immersive experiences in San Gerardo and while traveling throughout Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Students are expected to develop increased capability to communicate in Spanish in a variety of settings.  Students will also be able to articulate how the society and economy in the community of San Gerardo de Dota developed in the larger context of Latin American history and culture.  Students will also develop the ability to think critically about their place in the world based on their ability to compare and contrast their own culture with those of Latin America.  SNU faculty use a tutorial approach to guide students through selected readings in Latin American history that aid students in understanding the context and drawing meaning and wisdom from interactions they have with a wide variety of people throughout the country in both formal and informal settings.

Tropical Ecology and Sustainability (in cooperation with CCCU-LASP) (3 credits)

 Students will travel through most of the tropical life zones in Costa Rica studying the ecological principles relevant to ecology in general and in the tropics specifically.  Students will learn the particular characteristics of Costa Rican biomes including the littoral biomes, lowland tropical rain- and dryland tropical forest, mid-elevation pre-montane and montane forests.  Students will observe and study the ways that humans interact with nature within these biomes in both sustainable and non-sustainable ways.  Students will have an opportunity to analyze the viability of a variety of land-use strategies in light of conservation principles and the integration of Christian faith and ethics.

Topics in Tropical Montane Forest Ecology (2 credits)

Students will be introduced to particular fields of tropical biology and ecology. Topics may include botany, ornithology, aquatic biology, environmental microbiology, physical geography, herpetology.  By the end of the course students will be able to demonstrate an acquaintance with the fundamental aspects of the fields to which they have been introduced and integrate those fundamentals into an articulation of their overall understanding of the cloud forest ecosystem.

 Tropical Medicine (2 credits)

Tropical medicine will provide students the opportunity to develop a better understanding of the unique medical challenges and benefits populations in 10-40 window countries and the central/southern Americas experience. The course will present a broad overview of topics including key tropical diseases, challenges and strengths of modern health care delivery, bioprospecting, the relationship between environmental and human health, venomous animals, and traditional medical practices. In addition, students will visit rural and urban medical facilities and medicinal plant gardens. 

Biblical Theology and Global Stewardship (3 credits)

This course helps QERC students discern what the Bible and Christian theology articulate about the nature of the world and the place of human persons in that world.  Specific attention will be given to texts in the Bible and to dimensions of God’s sovereignty.  The “rule” and “role” of human persons in creation will be discerned with special attention to issues of agrarian practices, land economies, and sabbath principles.  A variety of resources will be used to discern how to be good stewards of creation in response to modern day concerns and dilemmas in various habitats, ecological situations, and in the politics and economic practices of governments as human persons address the contemporary situation.  As an extension of the theological issues, the course will attempt to faithfully, critically and intentionally integrate the relation with the natural sciences as experts, resources (print & media), and lectures are available.  These might include expert practitioners in physics, cosmology, evolutionary and molecular biology, as well as technology, the environment, and ethics. 

Tropical Field Research (3 credits)

This course will provide students with an opportunity to design and implement a research project in light of its contribution to QERC, the community of San Gerardo de Dota, and the larger scientific community.  Students will be expected to write a reseach prospectus, implement a program of research, write a research report to be submitted for publication, and produce a public presentation to be presented to the citizens of San Gerardo de Dota and to the campus communities from which students come.  Student projects will be coordinated with advisors at the home institution.

Environmental Monitoring (1 credit)

Students will participate in ongoing environmental monitoring activities in the San Gerardo area conducted by QERC.  QERC monitors local weather, water quality, plant succession, aquatic invertibrates, quetzal nesting, and human/livestock populations.  Students will rotate through a program in which they will have opportunity to learn appropriate monitoring methodology and collect data to add to the ongoing environmental database maintained by QERC.