- Panama, Panama
- Program Type:
- Study Abroad
- Degree Level:
- Fall Semester, Spring Semester
- Program Description:
- Experience the critical environmental and social issues affecting one of the world’s most diverse ecological systems.
This program provides students an immersive opportunity to study tropical ecology up close in one of the world’s most diverse wildlife and plant environments. Topics of study include: tropical forest ecology; marine and wetland ecology; community resource conservation; indigenous resource use; human-natural resource interface; and the Panamanian environmental movement
The interdisciplinary coursework in the Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation program focuses on the environmental and sociocultural issues affecting the geography, culture, and development of Panama. Students examine the impact of human activity on the environment and the ways in which development and conservation practices can serve both human and environmental interests. Students participate in a variety of research and cultural activities throughout the semester and learn from researchers, professionals, practitioners, and other development and conservation specialists. During the final month of the semester, students leverage their field study experience and research skills to conduct an Independent Study Project (ISP).
Please inquire for costs: Fees include tuition, full room and board, all field trips and related fares, health and accident insurance, and other direct program expenses. Participants pay for international airfare and domestic travel to the point of departure from the USA.
- Setting Description:
- The SIT Panama program is comprised of the following phases: •A four-week homestay in Panama City where students take intensive Spanish courses and begin the Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation Seminar and the Environmental Field Study Seminar; •A six-week period in which students conduct field studies throughout Panama and part of Costa Rica; •A four-week Independent Study Project (ISP) period in which students focus on original research of their own choosing (see below as well as the coursework page for more information on the ISP). Each phase exposes students to different perspectives on conservation and development through interactions with a variety of stakeholders – from banana plantation workers and members of forest-dwelling communities to experts on environmental policy and evolutionary theory.
Additional Program Information
- Scholarships Description:
- Please see our website for more information.
Based on 11 Reviews
- Incredible Experience full of Travel, Field Work, Friends01/26/20
SIT Panama met and exceeded all of my expectations. I loved being constantly on the move, experiencing new environments, cultures, people, and types of scientific research. I made so many new and incredible friends and made amazing connections with professors.
The Independent Study Project was an incredible opportunity to design and perform your own research on what you're passionate about.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Adventure of a Lifetime01/06/20
What I loved about this program is the extensive traveling and unique experiences that this program provides. We travelled all over Panama and even some of Costa Rica, seeing and doing just about everything you could imagine: hiking, swimming, kayaking,
snorkeling, sight seeing, and of course, learning. This program takes you beyond the traditional classroom setting and teaches you way more than coursework. It got me out of my comfort zone in the best way and taught me the importance of living in the moment.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Great experience02/05/19
I really enjoyed my time during this program. I learned a lot about Panama's ecology, culture, and history. There is a good balance between the social sciences and hard sciences. You get to explore a lot of Panama as you travel to different places in
the country. The research project allows you to learn a lot about what goes into conducting research. Overall, the program was a great experience that allows you to grow and enjoy Panamanian culture.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- A truly unique study abroad experience!01/31/19
This study abroad was truly nothing like a learning experience I could have had in a classroom setting alone. You will gain an immense amount of field experience, travel extensively, live in literally dozens of different places, and truly get to know
the country. The program director, Aly, is absolutely fantastic, and she really went above and beyond to help us get the most out of the experience as we could, making us better people along the way. The group size was perfect, and I can honestly say that the people in my program are now some of my best friends. If you choose this study abroad program, be ready to be hot, sticky, and pushed out of your comfort zone more often than not - but I promise it will be worth it!!!read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- An Unexpected Perfect Experience01/27/19
This SIT program not only has the best director and staff, but travels across the beautiful country of Panama, exploring a plethora of insane habitats and ecosystems as well as meeting and living with the people who interact with them daily. With varying
experiences ranging from living with indigenous Panamanian groups to researching coral reefs, amphibians, and forest ecology, the program is no where lacking in fantastic opportunities to learn more about oneself, develop a deeper relationship with the environment, and fall in love with a new country. I never expected to enjoy the country as much as I did, and I would endlessly recommend that anyone with an adventurous spirit (or with the desire to have the experience of a lifetime) take advantage of the program.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- An Amazing Semester in Panama01/26/19
The amount of traveling and field work that this program offers makes it very unique and a great way to learn. I loved all of the hands on field work we were able to do and it helped so much when we got to our independent study project. I learned a lot
about tropical and human ecology and got to experience so much of Panama and all that it has to offer. I would highly recommend this program!read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Truly Immersive Study Abroad01/25/19
If you are looking to dive into Central American culture and environmental field work (both literally and figuratively) - this is definitely the program for you. SIT Panama truly changed my life and gave me a much better perspective on what I want to
do with my life and on sustainability and conservation in different parts of the world. The hands-on aspect of this program are invaluable and one-of-a-kind, and I was able to have experiences here that I wouldn't have gotten anywhere else. I was very interested in both forest ecology as well as marine ecology, and SIT Panama gave me the opportunity to explore both in-depth. The opportunities to do field work for classes in coral reefs, mangroves, and tropical cloud forests, as well as to complete my own independent study project on frogs, were things that I could really have only done with SIT in Panama. My Spanish also improved immensely thanks to homestays and interactions with local people. If you are looking to have an intimate and deep connection with and understanding of a country, this is a great program. The 7 weeks of travelling to various parts of Panama and Costa Rica is SO fun and super educational. The program director, Aly, is PHENOMENAL. So invested in the well-being of her students. Check SIT Panama out if you are looking for an academically-challenging, truly unique study abroad program!read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Panama: Study Abroad Review08/02/17
My study abroad program involved a semester long immersion at USMA University and field study throughout Panama City. These countries were fitting destinations for my study abroad experience because my biology major requires that I not only see the diversity
of life that surrounds my environment, but also around the planet. The University’s values on sustainability and commitment to biodiversity conservation encompass my current worldview. Exploring Costa Rica and Panama, countries teeming with biodiversity in its parks and natural landscape, allowed me to apply my education and passion for the environment to the real world. Program highlights included exploring tropical rainforests, coral reefs, costal mangroves, and snorkeling in the Comarca Guna Yala. Conducting research in these environments proved nonetheless to be very difficult, but allowed me to gain new problem solving skills. I was able to conduct an Independent Study Project, a key component of the SIT Study Abroad program, in the town of Gamboa. My proposed research question studied interspecific competition between hummingbird species. Taking courses such as Environmental Research Methods and Ethics provided me with the tools necessary to conduct my research, as well as the guidance of my Academic Director and on-site project advisor. I am extremely grateful for the study abroad experience. As a result, I have been able to gain a global perspective and grow as a person. I truly appreciate the impact that this experience has had on my life.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Possibly the best 3.5 months of my college career07/29/17
SIT Panama is a brilliantly designed program for students who would like hands on experience, as opposed to learning just from books. Being in the field and conversing with people there proved to be an excellent way to learn- those kind of experiences
tend to stick with you. You meet some really amazing people through the program, who you would be highly unlike to cross paths with otherwise. These people, whether they are indigenous tribals or park rangers or researchers, have immense knowledge and are some of the warmest people I've met. One of my host mothers and I are still in regular contact, in fact! Simply by talking to those people about their lives, their experiences, their history, their opinions, I learnt more than I could've imagined. In terms of our courses, we learnt a ton of research methods and got to practice them, we learnt how to go about writing a research proposal/paper, we learnt a great deal about the social/environmental issues in Panama, we learnt many theoretical things as well like the classification of amphibians for instance. We also learnt how to work in groups, how to be mindful and respectful of other people, how to respect the culture of a foreign country while living there, how to not care one bit about how we looked, how to entertain ourselves on an extremely remote island and make meals out of canned food, how much it matters to be aware of local and global issues and to be active. Panama is a gorgeous country, home to an incredibly wide variety of ecosystems and landscapes. The program involves a lot of traveling, which we just couldn't get enough of; every place we visited was so hard to leave. The program also gives you some time to get involved in outdoor activities like horseback riding, snorkeling or even climbing up a volcano if you feel like it! The program staff that were with us in Panama during our Spring '17 semester were some of the most smart, hard working, caring, approachable people I know and we were quick to become family to one another. Needless to say, the friends I made through the group are lifelong friends, and people with whom I shared some really unique experience. Before going on this fantastic program however, I wish that I could've been a little more familiar with Spanish, especially to be able to communicate with host families better. I also wish that I had more knowledge of general global issues, because the program gives you numerous platforms for discussion and sharing. All in all, would 100% recommend SIT Panama!read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Truly a once in a lifetime experience!02/22/17
I cannot say more positive things about SIT and this program in particular. As a biology major, studying abroad in the tropics is a must, especially if you're interested in biodiversity. When I was considering programs, I was hesitant at first to go to
Panama because it did not seem like an obvious choice. However now, I don't regret it at all. All SIT programs are incredibly well structured and defined - the courses follow the syllabi posted on the website very well and you will get a day-by-day calendar schedule of where you will be and what you are doing. SIT is also more "legit" in terms of its academic rigor - I spent a lot of time (especially on excursions) in class and in the field. The tropical ecology and related field methods course allowed me to learn from and do research with Panamanian scientists who are the best in their field in Panama/the tropics and oftentimes are affiliated with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. The ISP, or Independent Research Project component of the trip gave me a unique opportunity to develop and propose my own project and was great preparation for writing scientific papers. We also had five homestays that were really amazing and manageable even for me, who came in with no prior knowledge of Spanish. You also take a Spanish class which is more like small-group tutoring, which improved my language skills immensely. The hands-on, experiential academic and cultural experience really immersed me into the ecosystems and cultures of Panama. I was taken out of my comfort zone, made life-long friends, and really developed my skills as a biologist. I wouldn't hesitate to do this trip again!read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
- Do this02/17/16
A lot of people say that study abroad will change your life and it seems super cliche and silly. But this experience was without a doubt the best thing I did in my entire life and brought back to me some things that I had lost. We travelled around the
country, saw so many different places and cultures and learned amazing things. It was intense and absolutely beautiful. To anyone considering this program, do it. It was paradise.read moreBottom Line:Yes, I would recommend this to a friend