About the Location
Bocas del Toro, which means “mouth of the bull” in Spanish, is Panama’s westernmost province, located along the beautiful Caribbean waters of Almirante Bay and harbors massive stands of old growth rainforests. The archipelago hosts more marine and terrestrial species than almost anywhere else on Earth. The biodiversity of these island systems, however, is under threat from a variety of human and natural pressures, including climate change, logging, and expanding farming and ranching, all of which put delicate coral reefs and rainforests at risk. Combining scientific research with local and indigenous knowledge is crucial for the conservation and management of this wild and magnificent area.
Students in the program complete a total of 18 credits consisting of four, 4-credit courses (Tropical Coastal Ecology; Principles of Resource Management; Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values; and Directed Research), and one, 2-credit course (Language, Culture, and Society of Panama). The central theme of The School for Field Studies (SFS) Panama study abroad program is “islands as a delicate system,” with emphasis on the resources of Panama’s spectacular coastal and marine environments. Students will explore several key interfaces: human and natural systems, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and conservation and development. The goal of this undergraduate study abroad program is to assess the state of the archipelago’s fragile natural habitats, define the main environmental issues, and understand the community goals in natural resource management. The ultimate goal is to help islanders maintain balance and harmony between people and nature in this fragile ecosystem.
Things to remember about taking courses abroad:
General Program Dates
Fall semester – early September to early December
Spring semester – early February to early May
Costs for study abroad vary program to program and will not be exactly the same as on-campus costs of attendance at Elon.
For cost information for this program, please see the budget sheets:
Need-based scholarships are available for Elon semester programs through the GEC. For additional information on scholarships or other funding for study abroad, see the Funding for Study Abroad page.
If you qualify for a travel grant through any of the fellows or scholars programs, see the appropriate program director for more information on how to apply the grant to your study abroad program. Visit the Deadlines and Events Calendar for travel grant deadlines.
School for Field Studies (SFS) awards scholarships for students on their programs. For more information on SFS funding, visit the SFS website.
Students live in a field station in a small, local community. Students share living quarters and have access to a kitchen/dining area, library, computer room, and classrooms.
Students must complete the online Elon University Study Abroad Application by the published deadline. See the Deadline and Events Calendar for the most up-to-date deadline information. Applications are generally accepted one semester in advance.
Initial approval is granted by Elon, and final acceptance is granted by the School for Field Studies.
Note: This program has limited capacity. Applications for a given term will no longer be accepted once capacity has been reached.
A successful semester abroad is dependent upon adequate preparation. Students will participate in a series of mandatory orientations during the semester prior to studying abroad. These orientations will address issues of academic, cultural, logistical, financial, and personal preparation, as well as health and safety. Failure to participate in the required orientations will result in dismissal from the program. Any financial losses incurred by this dismissal, including program fees and international airfare, are the student's full responsibility.
View the pre-departure orientation schedule
for the semester programs.
Additional Information and Links
Want to know more? Join the GEC Facebook page to chat with alumni and prospective students and receive study abroad updates.
Study Abroad Student Ambassadors (SASAs) are GEC student representatives who have participated in one or more study abroad programs, and have been trained to speak about their experiences. You can be in touch with current SASAs via email, or contact past study abroad participants who have attended your program. They are looking forward to hearing from you!
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