Costa Rica frog

Undergraduate Global Enrichment in Costa Rica

IBUS 3080: Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility

Location: Costa Rica

Dates: January 4 - 17, 2015; Pre-departure classes during Fall B Term - Fridays Oct. 24, Nov. 7, Nov. 21, Dec. 5, and Dec. 12 from 4:00 - 8:00 PM. Students are required to attend all pre-departure sessions.

Term: 2014 Fall 2-8 weeks

Objective: This course focuses on the concepts of sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in cooperation with the Rainforest Alliance and key businesses practicing sustainability in Costa Rica. Achieving an in-depth understanding of the many interrelated and complex issues associated with sustainability and CSR requires an exploration into the entire value chain and the stakeholders who affect or are affected throughout the chain. Students will explore the value chain from origins through final product and the stakeholders involved. This includes exploration regarding the important interaction between multinational corporations, local producers and nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to promote sustainability. This course will also examine the challenges regarding how corporations effectively communicate sustainability in an authentic and meaningful way (through sustainability certifications and reporting) and engage with upstream suppliers to embed sustainability as a joint objective.

Program Benefits:
The benefits to students participating in this program may include:

  • Learn about sustainability and corporate social responsibility in a global context.
  • Explore business questions from the perspectives of multi-national corporations, local producers and non-governmental organizations.
  • Understand emerging operational and reputational risks to global sourcing strategies under increasing climate uncertainty.
  • Directly engage with the concepts of sustainable production and consumption through products and tourism.


  • 20–30 University of Minnesota undergraduate students

Academic Credit

  • 4 credit
  • Grading is A-F basis

This course is approved for the Civic Life & Ethics theme.


This program is open to University students in good academic standing, with a GPA of 2.5 at the time of application or instructor permission. All students with an interest in the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment are invited. Preference will be given to Carlson School students.


Costa Rica is a world leader in sustainable development and the promotion of ecologically sound tourism practices. Geographically Costa Rica is bordered by Nicaraqua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Its location provides access to American markets as it has the same time zone in the central part of the United States and direct ocean access to Europe and Asia. As a small country which covers only 0.03 % of the surface of the globe, it proudly shelters a 6% of the existing biodiversity in the entire world. 25.58 % of the country is composed of conservation and natural protected territory. The country is ranked fifth in the world, and first among the Americas, in terms of the 2012 Environmental Performance Index. 


The program comprises guest lectures, site visits, and case study. Costa Rica represents a critical coffee supplier to Caribou Coffee. Students will learn about the coffee supply chain firsthand with its complex environmental and social challenges through visits to coffee farms with Caribou employees. This course will enable students to deeply consider the people and communities involved in providing the customers of Caribou Coffee that daily cup of coffee. Cultural tours adn two group dinners will complement the academic program.

Housing and Food

Students stay in conveniently-located hotels and will share a room with one or two classmates of their same gender. Because networking and community-building are key parts of the program, students will not have the option of a single room. Guests are not permitted during the program. Breakfast daily, a welcome dinner, and a closing dinner are provided.

Cost Estimate

Fees are based on estimates and may change due to international economic factors. This information applies to 2014-2015 programs.

2014-2015 Tuition for 4 academic credits (included in the 13-19 credit tuition plateau) $0
Program Fee (including international group airfare, hotel accommodation, program events, daily breakfast, two group meals, and int'l health insurance*) $4,400
International airfare between Minnesota and Costa Rica (included in Program Fee $0
Passport and Photos $145
Textbooks $135
Hotel Accomodation (included in Program Fee) $0
Daily Living Expenses (local transportation, incidentals, internet, laundry, etc) $250
Meals (lunch and dinners not included in Program Fee) $450
Estimated Total $5,380

*Students should also maintain their U.S.-based health insurance plan while abroad.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most financial aid may be applied to study abroad. University of Minnesota students are eligible for education abroad scholarships. See Costs & Billing for additional information on financial aid and scholarships.

Carlson students accepted into IBUS 3080 will be invited to apply for the Jeanne Voigt Foundation Scholarship for Study Abroad in Emerging Economies. The scholarship funds support the incremental costs of the study abroad experience, including but not limited to travel and living expenses. Scholarship recipients will be invited to meet the benefactor after they return from their experience abroad. Contact Jennie Meinz at if you have questions about this scholarship.

Application and Admission

To apply, please visit the Apply page. Students will be charged a $50 application fee.

The application cycle starts on March 1 and the priority deadline is April 1. Applications for programs that do not fill by the priority deadline will be accepted on a rolling basis until full.

Applications will be reviewed and students will be informed of their status via email within 4 weeks of the priority deadline.

All details subject to change based on economic and international factors.

Quick Links

Faculty Leader

Tim Smith
Associate Professor
Department of Bioproducts & Biosystems Engineering
Director NiSE at Institute on the Environment
Faculty Profile

Contact Information

Carlson Global Institute
CSOM 2-210
Phone: 612-625-9361

Stuart Robbins-Butcher
Program Manager
Phone: 612-626-4387
Fax: 612-624-8248

Past Participants

Olivia Diaz
Nathanial Kado
Britta Mathiowetz


Access Abroad

We encourage students who may have constraints to consult with our Education Abroad advisors and read information available at Access Abroad.

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