1st Annual Environment and Human Rights Course & Field Visit in Costa Rica

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HREA and the University for Peace Human Rights Centre annually organise a blended learning and field experience on the increasingly important field of environment and human rights.

1. E-learning Course Environment and Human Rights (30 September-10 November 2015)
2. Field Experience in Costa Rica (7-12 December 2015)

Recommended for: The course is intended for environmental and human rights academics, advocates, and practitioners who seek a balance of education and work at the institutional and community levels. Candidates should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use. HREA and the UPEACE Human Rights Centre aim to ensure equal gender and geographical distribution across the selected participants. We believe that for a course of this nature, the greater the diversity, the better.

Please note that it is also possible to participate in only the e-learning or field component of this course.

1. E-learning Course: Environment and Human Rights (30 September-10 November 2015)

This 6-week e-learning course is intended to present a practical perspective on the interconnections between the environment and human rights. It takes an interdisciplinary approach, focusing on the educational, legal and social aspects of this relationship. Among the topics of discussion, the course will address climate change (impacts and effects), mitigation, adaptation, migration, human rights based approaches, loss and damage, human rights beyond a legal concept or environment as an Earth system, and the environment and human rights in the light of the post-2015 development agenda, under the umbrella of international law and environmental sciences. The course will pay special attention to hybrid legal approaches on the environment and human rights, including as a potential strengthening and dispersing method to address the nexus of environment, human rights and migration.

This e-learning course involves approximately 30 hours of reading, interaction with students and instructor on discussion boards, quizzes, a written assignment and webinars. The course is based on a participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on critical reflection and peer-to-peer learning.


Week 1: Introduction to Environment and Human Rights Linkages
Week 2: Legal Approaches: Concepts, Mechanisms and Implementation
Week 3: Environmental Law Principles and Environmental Rights Responses to Global, Regional and Local Issues
Week 4: Climate Change and Human Rights Based Approaches
Week 5: New Emerging Legal Nexus: Environment, Human Rights and Migration
Week 6: Addressing Human Rights and the Environment in the Post-2015 Agenda

2. Field Visit in Costa Rica (7-12 December 2015)

The field visit will include an orientation and workshop at the UPEACE main campus (7 December), and a five day field trip to various parts of Costa Rica including a night at the Pacific beach town of Tamarindo (8-12 December).

Please plan to arrive in Costa Rica no later than Sunday, 6 December and depart from Costa Rica on Sunday, 13 December. If participants wish to extend their stay, they may do so at one’s own expense.

Location: UPEACE campus and various parts of Costa Rica.

Language: English (Spanish skills are desirable, but not required)

Format: The field visit will include a one-day introductory workshop at the UPEACE main campus followed by a field trip to various parts of Costa Rica, where participants will visit different projects and meet varied stakeholders on issues related to the environment, human rights and sustainable development. The field experience is intense and there will be a debriefing session every day. A wrap-up session will be held in Tamarindo on the morning of 12 December before the group returns to San José/Ciudad Colon.

Content: The field visit will build upon the 6-week e-learning course Environment and Human Rights, and will increase participants’ knowledge and understanding about how the subject is being dealt with in Costa Rica – a country that is known for its leadership in this field.

The field course will explore the linkages between different elements of the human rights and environment agenda, with focus on a holistic approach to sustainable development. The visits will cover a wide range of social, economic, and environmental issues, drawing on the intersections between the three areas. The impacts of different activities on local communities (and vice-versa) will be a strong focus. Topics covered include but are not limited to:

1. Impact of industrial scale agriculture on conservation (including issues of water quality and quantity, bio-diversity, forest cover)
2. Private conservation projects in Costa Rica and studies on bio-diversity
3. Tropical rain-forests and sustainable development
4. Payment for environmental services
5. Sustainable forest management
6. Reforestation with native tree species
7. Hydroelectricity and sustainable development
8. Sustainable agriculture
9. Sustainable aqua-culture
10. Wildlife protection and conservation
11. Costa Rica’s National Parks system and conservation policies
12. Tropical Dry Forests and Sustainable Development
13. Environment and water security
14. Environment and food security
15. Tourism, eco-tourism and sustainable development
16. Business corporations and the environment and human rights nexus
17. Education on environmental issues in Costa Rica
18. Green Economy and REDD+

Tentative Itinerary: 6 December (Sunday): Arrival in Ciudad Colon

7 December (Monday): Orientation and Workshop on “Introduction to Environment and Human Rights in the Costa Rican Context” at UPEACE campus

8 December (Tuesday): Departure from Ciudad Colon for Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui

– Dole banana plantation
– Pineapple production sites
– La TIRIMBINA (Private conservation projects)

9 December (Wednesday): Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui

– FUNDECOR (Payment for environmental services)
– Private hydroelectricity company
– Visit native species reforestation projects

10 December (Thursday): Cañas area on the Pacific side of Costa Rica

– La Pacifica (Sustainable farming, Tilapia production project)
– Wild Cat Rescue Center

11 December (Friday): Santa Rosa National Park and Tamarindo (beach town on Pacific Coast)

– Santa Rosa National Park
– Tamarindo

12 December (Saturday): Wrap up session in Tamarindo, beach time, and return to Ciudad Colon (End of course)

Please note that the above list of contents covered and the itinerary is tentative. Since this is a customized course, participants are welcome to suggest specific topics ahead of time.

Accommodation: The field trip includes visiting several environmental projects and areas of interest across Costa Rica. As such, participants may be hosted on some nights by host organizations. Accommodations will be clean and neat, but will not be five-star. Also, on some occasions, participants will be placed in shared accommodations with co-participants.

Participants are expected to arrange their own travel insurance and ensure they meet all visa requirements for the field visit (including any visas participants may need while in transit to and from Costa Rica). UPEACE will provide documentation for your visa applications upon request. Participants should also check whether they need any vaccinations for their travel.

Course instructors: The e-learning course will be instructed by Dr. Cosmin Corendea. Dr. Corendea serves as Associate Academic Officer for Environmental Migration, Social Vulnerability and Adaptation Section at the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security.

The field course will be led by Professors Jan Breitling (Costa Rica/Germany) and Mihir Kanade (India). Prof. Breitling is Head and Assistant Professor in the Department of Environment and Development at UPEACE. Prof. Kanade is the Director of the UPEACE Human Rights Centre and is a faculty member in the Department of International Law and Human Rights at UPEACE.

Course fee: The fee for the blended learning programme is US$ 2,000 (non-credit). The fee covers: tuition for the 6-week e-learning course; accommodation for 7 nights in Costa Rica (3 nights in Ciudad Colon, of which two nights will be spent with a host family immediately after arrival and before departure from the Juan Santamaria airport, 4 nights at various places across Costa Rica); transportation during the field visit (participant airfare and airport transfers are not included), meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner on all 7 days of the field visit in Costa Rica); and course materials. This rate is available until 1 June 2015. Unfortunately, HREA and UPEACE do not have scholarship funding/grants available to support participation in the program.

Certificate: Upon successful completion of the e-learning and field-based components of the course, participants will receive a certificate issued jointly by the Human Rights Centre at UPEACE and HREA.

Accessibility: HREA and UPEACE seek to ensure our training programs are fully accessible for persons with disabilities and that everyone is able to participate on an equal basis with others. Because of the nature of the course, however, including the fact that it will include a lot of walking through rainforests, there may be obstacles to participation for some individuals. We ask that you please write to us directly with any questions or concerns about this aspect of the training program, as well as the specific types of accommodation you may need in order to participate.

Please note that it is also possible to participate in only the e-learning or field component of this course.

More Information

Register for this program (opens in new window)

The program is limited to 25 participants. Participants are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis.

Deadline for early registration discount: 1 June 2015.

For enquiries, please contact the Training Coordinator: +1 617 301-4379 or e-mail

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