Smithsonian Journeys Announces Summer Study Abroad Program for College Students

Cultivating the Next Generation of Scientists in Tropical Research
January 19, 2011
News Release

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Exploring Panama: Biodiversity in the Tropics is a new summer study abroad program in Panama for students ages 18 and over that focuses on tropical ecology, climate change and sustainability. Offered jointly by Smithsonian Journeys and World Learning’s SIT Study Abroad, this program is a Smithsonian effort to cultivate the next generation of scientists and inspire them to address critical global issues.

The month-long Panama study abroad program (June 30-July 28) provides students the opportunity to learn from top scientists and researchers in the field, including time with experts at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. In addition to exciting learning opportunities, the study abroad program also immerses students in local culture through home stays with Panamanian families and intensive Spanish instruction. Interested students can find complete information, including college credit options, at or call toll-free (877) 257-7751. Enrollment is currently underway.

Panama is a nexus of diverse ecosystems and home to STRI, the world’s largest tropical biological research center. Panama grapples with multiple environmental challenges, including climate change, deforestation and a rise in endangered species populations that threaten to undermine its rich ecological heritage. This unique summer study abroad program offers students the opportunity to learn about these issues firsthand while gaining valuable field experience as they visit renewable energy projects, tropical rain forests, coral reefs and an organic chocolate farm. They will also spend time at one of STRI’s research facilities. Instructors from STRI will include Juan Mate, Science Advisor for Coastal and Marine Affairs, and Omar Lopez, a postdoctoral research associate focusing on climate change.

Students will be immersed in Panamanian culture through home stays with families in the cities of David and Panama City, in addition to time at research facilities. Intensive Spanish instruction, from beginning to advanced levels, is another important learning component. There are no prerequisite courses for the program and students may opt to receive three college credits for an additional fee.

A pioneer in experiential learning,SIT Study Abroad offers semester, summer, and post-baccalaureate programs in more than 40 countries worldwide that focus on critical global issues. To date, more than 25,000 students have benefited from SIT Study Abroad’s field-based programs. 

About Smithsonian Journeys

Smithsonian Journeys is the Smithsonian Institution’s travel program, with more than 40 years dedicated to life-enriching experiences worldwide. The Smithsonian is known for “Inspiring Generations through Knowledge and Discovery,” which is central to Smithsonian Journeys and its more than 150 expert-led international and domestic tours featuring exclusive access and unforgettable experiences. For more information, call toll-free 1 (877) 338-8687 or visit

About the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The Institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems.

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