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PUP and the University of Montana Announce International Course about the Evolution of Protected Areas in the World Seen through Costa Rica

09 May 2023 10:41 AM | Jon Kohl (Administrator)

PUP and the University of Montana Announce International Course about the Evolution of Protected Areas in the World Seen through Costa Rica

 The PUP Global Heritage Consortium and the University of Montana have just announced the opening of a collaborative international course for university students about the evolution of protected areas throughout the world, as seen through examples in Costa Rica. The course will take place 3-14 January 2024 in Costa Rica during which up to 15 students and three faculty will visit more than five protected areas around Costa Rica, three of which are PUP members. Consistent with PUP’s mission, the course will take a holistic or Integral perspective to explore how human values have evolved over time and how paradigms of protected areas and wildlife management have responded to those values. So the course will look back to the most ancient Feng shui forests of China and sacred groves through royal hunting grounds, modern parks, and cutting-edge concepts of community-based integrated landscapes.

 The course will be co-led by Jon Kohl, executive director of the PUP Consortium and adjunct professor at the University of Costa Rica, and Dr. Jennifer Thomsen, associate professor and Director of the Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Management Program at the University of Montana. The course also will have a Costa Rican naturalist, César Sánchez, expert in birding, ecology, and program manager for the Punta Islita Wild Macaw Reserve (run by the Macaw Recovery Network), one of the sites on the course itinerary.

Course Background

The concept for the course was born in 2019 when a professor from Kansas State University visited Costa Rica to reconnaissance possible sites for a trip by its own park planning students. Thereafter the pandemic hit and derailed those plans. In June 2022, PUP put together a tour of 5 days/4 nights visiting some of the same sites and focusing on the same general theme. The tour, led by Jon, occurred successfully with seven PUP members. Having successfully carried out that trip gave confidence and connections to tourism service providers needed to mount this much more ambitious course.

            Thanks to long-time PUP member and professor emeritus Dr. Stephen McCool of the University of Montana, PUP made the connection with that institution. In fact, the principal reading for the course is the book written by Kohl and McCool called, The Future Has Other Plans: Planning Holistically to Conserve Natural and Cultural Heritage.



The course targets graduate and undergraduate university students interesting in protected area and wildlife management. The University of Montana will award 4 credits to any student from any university that accepts the credit transfer. Students must be proficient in English, do some reading prior to the course, participate in dialogues throughout the course, make a presentation at the end about how to apply the concepts to a protected area of their choice, and submit a paper three weeks after they return from Costa Rica.


Publicity Begins Today

As of today, PUP begins its publicity for this course and kindly requests of PUP members who have contacts with university students interested in protected areas, park and wildlife management to share the brochure or our webpage about the course. Registration is now open for eligible students.


Course brochure

Course webpage


For more information, write or

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