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Costa Rica Study Trip

An Experiential Learning Course with a focus on sustainability and analytics. 

Sustainability + Analytics projects

Are you passionate about sustainability or analytics or both? The Costa Rica Experiential Learning Course will give students in either of these fields an immersive, hands-on experience where they can work directly on one of twelve projects in collaboration with multiple NGOs and natural reserves.

Earn credits from McGill University by developing experiential projects that focus on sustainability and analytics, all while living on a natural reserve located steps away from Playa Conchal.


Beginning in May 2024, this interdisciplinary experiential-learning course will partner students with an NGO to draw on that organization’s knowledge in sustainability or analytics. During these projects, students will implement AI and analytical tools to, for example, study the health of bee colonies, track microplastics in the ocean, help micro-farming initiatives, or develop compost optimization.

Study Trip Costa Rica - Monkeys

Depending on skill sets and interests, students may elect to specialize in one of the following four areas:

  1. Analytics: Develop analytics and code-driven tools. At least one course in analytics is required as prior coding knowledge.
  2. Sustainability: Develop managerial solutions for a sustainability project.
  3. Sustainability Analytics: Requires a blend of knowledge in sustainability and analytics.
  4. General: A selected number of students with diverse backgrounds in finance, marketing, accounting, computer science, biology, environmental science, etc., will be accepted for projects that focus on incorporating their knowledge in these fields.

Bursaries and Financial Aid

Don’t let the cost of a trip abroad stop you from participating in this course. McGill University has funding available specifically for study trips, often granting students partial or full financial aid for their experiences abroad. The McGill Abroad website lists all funding opportunities that are available to McGill students. Other funding opportunities are also available to students, such as the Enriched Educational Opportunities (EEO).

The Sustainability Analytics Data Hub

We have created a one-of-a-kind data hub for sustainability analytics which centralizes data and studies from all projects, making it easy to extract data to build on projects that were developed in the past. In addition, all data and solutions contributed will be centralized in this database for future researchers and managers to access and continue to build solutions.

Sample Projects

Costa Rica Study Trip Group Photo


Tracing ocean microplastics

Improving bee health

Machine learning for wildlife road safety

Composting management

Wildlife information systems

Reforestation analytics

Using AI for wildlife road safety

Animal rehabilitation management



MGSC 483 Analytics-Based Community Proj 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

  • This course counts toward the major and concentration in Business Analytics, and the major and concentration in Managing for Sustainability.
  • Students from other programs or faculties are welcome to apply; this course may be used as an elective, for a total of three credits.
  • The Costa Rica course will be open to U1, U2, and U3 students, with registration through the application process.

Meet the Instructor

Juan SerpaThis course was designed and will be taught by Prof. Juan Camilo Serpa. Prof. Serpa has received numerous accolades for his teaching including the 2021 Principal's Teaching Award, the highest teaching honor at McGill. In addition, he was granted the 2021 Desautels Distinguished Teaching Award for graduate programs and the 2017 Desautels Distinguished Teaching Award for undergraduate programs—the two top teaching awards at Desautels. In 2017, he was also recognized as one of the World's Top 40 Professors by Poets&Quants.


Do I need to know how to code to take this course?

This is an interdisciplinary course in which students will work together on sustainability-related projects. Prior to applying, students will select between the areas of Sustainability, Analytics, Sustainability Analytics, or General.

Should one opt for analytics, some coding knowledge will be required. One course in analytics will suffice to meet this criterion. No coding knowledge will be expected for the other areas, which will assign projects based on an applicant’s skill set.

Can I be guaranteed a spot in a particular project?

Applicants will be asked to rank their project choices based on preferences.

We will try to assign students to their preferred project. However, this cannot be guaranteed and assignments will only be known days before the trip. Students’ applications should not be conditional upon being accepted or assigned to a specific project. Those who apply for placement in the course should have an open mind.

What happens if I am accepted?

Accepted student will be required to pay 25% of the cost of the trip (approx. $750) as a deposit to secure their place in the program; unsecured spots will be given to students on the waiting list.

Students will be asked to complete the necessary paperwork for participation

Student must agree to fully participate in activities during the Costa Rica trip


Reserva Conchal Logo


 Salve Monos Logo

Sibu Wildlife Santuary Logo

Marino Las Baulas Parque Nacional logo

 Blue Zones Logo

 Centro de Rescate y Santuario Las Pumas Logo

 Asociacion Creciendo Juntos

The Clean Wave Logo



Are you interested in joining the Costa Rica Study Trip - Experiential Learning Course?



For further information, please contact:

Prof. Juan Camilo Serpa
juan.serpa [at]

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