This summer, Augustana announced plans to open a satellite campus in Costa Rica, something director of International Programs and Enrollment Ben Iverson said they have been “dreaming about for a while” in the International Programs Office (IPO).
At the new campus, proposed to open in 2030, students will have the opportunity to participate in a semester-long study abroad program.
“We knew we wanted to do a semester somewhere; the question was where,” Iverson said. “Pretty quickly, all of these things coalesced around Costa Rica.”
Already a favorite among Augustana students for semester-length programs, Iverson said there were many factors that made Costa Rica an obvious choice for the satellite campus.
“Costa Rica is close to the U.S., relatively speaking,” Iverson said. “It’s safe, it’s relatively affordable, and we send students there already to a couple different partners.”
Provost Colin Irvine said this plan has “been in the works, theoretically, for years and years.” According to Irvine, the plans “started to crystallize through the academic steering committee in the strategic planning process and, then, became one of the enterprise goals in the 2030 plan.”
By “developing new academic programs, innovative programs and placed-based programs,” Irvine said the program not only aligns with the 2030 plan, but also with Augustana’s core values of community and liberal arts. At the new campus, students can engage in these core values by learning about the people and environment surrounding them.
As for what the study abroad experience will look like, Iverson said the program will initially work like a J-term program, with 10 to 15 students and one visiting Augustana faculty member venturing to Central America.
“From there,” Iverson said, “we hope to expand both the number of student participants, and perhaps our physical footprint, to accommodate them so that this will grow over time.”
Iverson said this physical footprint will “either look like a small rented facility that we do ourselves, [or], it could look like some shared space, maybe some co-branded space with an existing institution with whom we would also collaborate with on the academic and co-curricular experiences.”
Although the university is still in the planning stages of exactly what coursework the program will entail, Iverson said it might be “a core of maybe five to seven classes” that would include a Spanish language course and courses that emphasize the location, such as courses on Costa Rican history or politics.
Iverson described this “standard core” that would be offered every semester as something that would allow students to “find things that they need, or are of interest to them, in their academic plan.”
According to Iverson, the classes students take at the Costa Rican campus could look different each semester, depending on the area of study of the visiting faculty member.
“The semester that a biology professor goes, the initial two or three courses would focus on biology,” Iverson said “Maybe the next term is environmental studies, so then those three or four courses would focus on those things.”
Over time, Iverson envisions this list expanding so it would be possible for students of any major to participate in the program.
As part of the planning process, Iverson and Irvine traveled to Costa Rica in August, where Irvine said they had “lots and lots of very exciting, productive meetings.”
With the campus slated to open in 2023, Iverson said “things are off to the races in terms of development. We know it’s going to happen, it’s just a question of exactly what it looks like in the first iteration.”