Since 1990, EARTH University’s innovative educational approach has been preparing young people from Latin America, the Caribbean and other regions, including Africa and Asia, to contribute to the sustainable development of their countries and construct a prosperous and just society. EARTH offers a rigorous four-year undergraduate program in agricultural sciences and natural resources management and a prestigious, international faculty, providing a world-class scientific and technological education that emphasizes values, ethical entrepreneurship and environmental and social commitment.
EARTH was established by Costa Rican law in 1986 as a private, non-profit, international University and was created thanks to the support of the Costa Rican Government, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
EARTH campus in Guácimo
In the heart of the tropical rainforest in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica, resides EARTH University. The 8,342-acre campus includes classrooms, laboratories, academic farms, sports and recreational facilities, student and faculty residences, a commercial banana plantation, reforested areas and a forest reserve.
Our second campus called EARTH-La Flor, is located in the dry tropics of Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province. The family of former Costa Rican President, Daniel Oduber Quirós, donated the property to EARTH in 2005. This 3,700-acre campus promises to be a hub for research, development and innovation.
Currently, third-year students spend seven weeks at EARTH-La Flor living and working on sustainable development projects in the surrounding communities. The campus also offers seminars and training programs open to the public in areas such as renewable energies, entrepreneurship and sustainable agriculture.
EARTH University’s curriculum is based on four formative areas designed to prepare students with the competencies required to respond to the needs of today’s world. These include:
• Technical and scientific knowledge: Ensuring that EARTH alumni have the professional competencies to sustainably manage agriculture and natural resources.
• Personal development, attitudes and values: Fostering self-awareness, empathy, respect, tolerance, teamwork, effective communication and life-long learning along with those values that promote peace, dialog and understanding.
• Ethical entrepreneurship: Developing in students an entrepreneurial spirit, so that they will be capable of proactively generating opportunities and solutions to problems. Students form and operate a business venture from beginning to end during their first three years studying at EARTH, gaining a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to start a business.
• Social and environmental awareness and commitment: Developing students’ social and environmental responsibility and strengthening their capacity to generate positive change.
The teaching and learning process at EARTH University is dynamic and participatory, and EARTH professors serve as facilitators of learning. Our educational approach is based on two principals:
1. Student-centered learning: Students, alone or in groups, explore real challenges and become active participants in generating knowledge, as opposed to passive receptors of information.
2. Experiential learning: Students learn through deliberate experiences designed to encourage learning and are given opportunities to build knowledge and develop abilities which they can put into practice while they are learning.
Since November 2006, EARTH’s curriculum has been accredited by the Costa Rican Higher Education Accreditation System (SINAES in Spanish), assuring our students and alumni a high-quality education that is continually updated.
In addition, EARTH is the first institution in Central America to have its academic program certified regionally as part of a pilot program of the Ibero-American Network of Accreditation Agencies (RIACES in Spanish) and SINAES.
EARTH students are recruited based on their academic and leadership potential, vocation, values and social and environmental commitment, regardless of their ability to pay.
- EARTH has approximately 420 students from some 35 countries.
- Approximately 40% are women.
- Approximately 83% are from rural communities.
- 60% of students receive full scholarships with the remaining receiving significant financial aid and /or educational subsidy, empowering promising young leaders from economically underprivileged communities.
EARTH has more than 1,800 alumni from approximately 30 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, North America and Europe.
- 80% work in their country of origin.
- Nearly 60% of graduates work in the private sector; of this group 24% have their own or family business.
- 81% report having a positive impact on the business sector.
- 82% report having a positive social impact.
- 78% report having a positive environmental impact.
- 83% report having a positive impact on the agricultural sector.
- 44% are active volunteers in their community.
EARTH has extensive experience searching for innovative solutions to challenges in sustainable agriculture, environmental conservation and natural resource management. Research at EARTH is applicable and actively involves both students and faculty.
EARTH has collaborated with institutions, such as the University of Florida, NASA and the National Biodiversity Institute of Costa Rica (INBio), to conduct collaborative research projects. Examples of research projects include: the search for a cure for Chagas disease, identification of agricultural uses for the by-products of ethanol production from sugarcane and the development of bio-indictor field guides for on-site water quality assessments.
In 2011, more than 1,900 individuals in the communities surrounding EARTH benefited from the Institution’s Community Development Program, which includes a service-learning course where students work with small-scale, local producers on their farms and with organized groups to promote sustainable community development.
As part of this program:
• Since its inception, the University has installed more than 500 bio-digesters to help farmers convert manure and other organic waste into methane gas that can be used for cooking. Several hundred more have been installed in Costa Rica by individuals or institutions trained by EARTH, and by EARTH alumni around the world.
• EARTH trained more than 1,780 individuals in agricultural waste management best practices.
• More than 70 small-scale farming families completed a training course on how to implement sustainable practices within their own businesses.
EARTH University and its commercial banana operation employ more than 600 individuals, providing fair wages and benefits, professional training, development opportunities and use of its library and sports and recreational facilities.
EARTH University campus is carbon neutral:
• Approximately 26,182 tons of carbon dioxide fixed annually through agriculture and forestry systems*.
• EARTH emits about 1,124 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
*Through these systems, EARTH also offsets the emissions of EARTH-La Flor, EARTH University Foundation in Atlanta, GA, U.S.A. and EARTH University’s commercial banana operation.
• EARTH is the first Carbon Neutral certifying entity in Costa Rica.
• EARTH University is a recipient of the highest distinction awarded by the Ecological Blue Flag Program in Costa Rica, a government initiative that seeks to promote public health, in the following categories: climate neutral community, non-coastal community, actions to face climate change and protection of natural spaces.
• More than 80% of the solid domestic waste produced on campus is recycled, transformed or reused.
• Since 2007, energy consumption on the main campus has decreased nearly 22% thanks to the conversion to energy-efficient lighting and cooling systems.
• Liquid petroleum gas consumption in EARTH’s cafeteria has decreased by 28% since 2008 when EARTH installed a bio-digester that collects wastewater from the University’s cafeteria, student dorms, laboratories and administration buildings, producing biogas to fuel three burners in the Institution’s cafeteria. This is one of eight bio-digesters on campus.
• Most of the vegetables, tubers, meats and dairy products served by the University’s cafeteria are grown organically and sustainably on EARTH’s academic farms.
EARTH welcomes more than 7,500 visitors every year to its campus who come as part of educational tourism programs, conferences and seminars or to learn about the Institution and its academic model.
EARTH offers study-abroad programs and internships for college students from around the world. In addition to these exchange programs, in collaboration with other institutions of higher learning, EARTH conducts short courses in sustainable agriculture, tropical agro-forestry, renewable energies, rural tourism and community engagement.
As part of its commitment to provide opportunities to young people who want to make a difference in the world, but lack the resources for a higher education, EARTH operates a commercial enterprise and markets EARTH University products in Costa Rica, Latin America and the United States. Profits support EARTH’s scholarship program and operational expenses.
• Products for the local market (Costa Rica): 100% natural yogurt, sustainably-grown bananas, natural cleaning products and biological agricultural inputs.
• Products for Latin America: Biological agricultural inputs.
• Products for the United States (sold exclusively at Whole Foods Market): Sustainably-grown bananas, pineapple, tropical flowers, and coffee.
EARTH offers a one-of-a-kind educational opportunity to those who wish to become leaders of positive change for their countries and the world. The experiential curriculum takes an expansive view of sustainable agriculture and gives students the opportunity to run their own business, complete an international internship and work with members of the communities to address real problems.
The admissions process is highly personalized and all candidates are interviewed, both individually and in a group setting to assess qualities that are difficult to evaluate in an exam, such as leadership potential and values.
Thanks to the generous scholarship support provided by committed donors around the world, we have been able to make the dream of a college education come true for hundreds of young men and women from disadvantaged rural communities who otherwise would never have received a higher education.
Financial aid is awarded based on need and the availability of scholarships.