AORE Association News March 2017 - Page 14

Teaching in Costa Rica

Members in Motion

An Interview with Sean Morrissey

By Bryan Karban

For the past five years, Dr. Sean Morrissey has traveled to Costa Rica with the University of Minnesota’s Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies Program teaching a 10-day course called “Explore Costa Rica: Adventure Recreation, Tourism & Ecotourism.” The course explores the impact of ecotourism on the environment and resource sustainability. In addition to teaching, Sean is the Outdoor Center Manager for the University of Minnesota and wrote a dissertation titled “Evaluating the Effects of College Outdoor Adventure Programs on Academic Success.” Sean has been a member of AORE since 2002.

Q: Tell me about the learning abroad course. What activities do students take part in?

A: The Costa Rica study abroad course primarily involves adventure recreation and nature-based tourism. The trip starts

out hiking to a volcano. Students then

have the opportunity to visit the La Paz waterfall and the Doka coffee plantation. Then the course heads to the coast, where we spend a night in the rainforest. Students interact with a naturalist and learn about the biodiversity of the rainforest and have the opportunity to meet the owner of Hacienda Baru. Hacienda Baru actually started out as a farm for livestock. This gentleman, Jack Ewing, purchased the land and, over the years, converted farmland into a park reserve. He realized that people could actually make more money and be better for the environment by getting rid of the farm and providing an opportunity for tourism.

We stay there for a few days, and students get to hike and interact with the staff. We make our way down to the ocean and spend a couple days backpacking in Corcovado National Park. The trip ends with some world-class whitewater rafting

to the beautiful Pacuare Resort.

Q: What are the desired learning outcomes for students in the course?

A: I want students to gain an understanding of adventure recreation and leisure-based tourism and how that plays into Costa Rica’s economy. I always have several students who have never left the country before, so there's a lot of learning that