Tropical Biodiversity & Environmental Issues in Panama!!


Bocas del Toro region, Panama
November 28 - December 13, 2008

YOU MUST MAIL THE APPLICATION BY AUGUST 15 2008 TO RECEIVE PRIORITY ADMISSION!Applications will be accepted until 25 qualified students are admitted, or until 12 SEPTEMBER 2008.


The Program
We have created a unique broadly defined environmental issues program focused on tropical ecosystems for you, as an incoming freshman to Ohio University. The program examines the natural biological diversity of marine and terrestrial ecosystems in coastal and montane Panama, the human cultures and their interactions with the natural environments there, and highlights environmental issues and conservation concerns affecting both people and biological diversity. Once you are accepted, we will enroll you in the fall quarter 2-credit student-led seminar (PBIO 284, Thursdays, 3-5pm), which covers a broad range of topics concerning tropical biological systems, human cultures and environmental impacts; and the University College course (UC 190, Mondays, 3-5pm), which covers all travel-related aspects of the program. Many of you will live in a Residential Learning Community developed around this program for the fall quarter, with other freshmen of diverse backgrounds and academic interests but all participating in this program and the two fall quarter courses (among others). The program culminates in an immersion field course in scenic Panama, beginning on Friday of Thanksgiving weekend. We will travel as a group from Columbus to Panama and spend the next two weeks gaining firsthand experience with the principles we have learned about Panamanian and Central American biodiversity, human cultures and environmental issues. We will arrive in Panama City then fly to a field station on an island near the town of Bocas del Toro to study the lowland forests and marine systems, and town life and tourism in the Bay region. We will end the field course with a three-day central mountain excursion on our return to Panama City and next-day departure to Ohio. The field course takes place during Winter Intersession, Friday, 28 Nov-Saturday, 13 Dec 2008.


Incoming freshmen of all backgrounds and academic interests are welcome to participate. The program is designed as a first-year study abroad experience to learn about tropical ecosystems and human-environment interactions.

Application Process and Deadline
Get the application at

Follow the detailed instructions at the front of the PDF file, and send the complete application packet by 15 August, 2008 to: Dr. Harvey Ballard, Department of Environmental & Plant Biology, 315 Porter Hall, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701. We will confirm receipt of your application and eligibility within a few days. If you qualify, we will send a nomination email and an attached deposit form for the $250 security deposit (applied to the program fee) to you within one week. In order to be officially accepted and have your spot in the program guaranteed, you must return the nomination email indicating your acceptance, and send back the signed deposit slip with payment, by 1 September, 2008. We would be delighted to answer any questions by email, telephone or skype (see Contact Us, below).

Living Arrangements
In Panama City we will stay at the very nice Hotel Acapulco, in a safe, quiet neighborhood with restaurants and cafes. In Bocas del Toro we will stay at the modern, well equipped Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation field station (see the website at for more information). We will stay in various small dormitory and double room accommodations at the station. During the three-day excursion we will live in double rooms in modest hotels in mountain villages in central Panama.

Costs of the Field Course
Billed by Ohio University
1) Tuitionó4 undergrad credits of OU Winter Intersession tuition; for cost of tuition see website at [NOTE: credits DO NOT count toward your 20 Winter quarter credit hours, and are billed separately from your Winter quarter tuition]
2) Estimated Program Fee--$1,500
3) EA Administrative Fee--$150

Out-of-Pocket Expenses
a) Passport (if you donít have one)--$205
b) Vaccinations--$350
c) Snorkeling Gear Rental (if you don't own gear)--$65
d) Panama City & mountain excursion meals, incidentals--$250

TOTAL STUDENT COST = $2,250 + OU tuition (4 credits)

Program fee includes all airfares, ground transport around Panama, special group meals, lodging at the Panama City and mountain village hotels, and room and board at the ITEC field station. Costs billed by OU for the field course (noted above) are separate from the Winter Quarter billing.

Contact Us
Dr. Harvey Ballard
406 Porter Hall, Department of Environmental & Plant Biology; (740) 593-4659;; skype name: harvey.ballard

Dr. Morgan Vis
400 Porter Hall, Department of Environmental & Plant Biology; (740) 593-2234;

Drs. Vis and Ballard have collectively developed and led 11 international biology-related programs to New Zealand, Hawaii and several countries in the Caribbean, mainland Latin America and Europe.