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Temporary Lecturer in Environmental Justice

Atenas, Costa Rica · Education

Institutional Mission:  

SFS creates transformative study abroad experiences through field-based learning and research. Our educational programs explore the human and ecological dimensions of the complex environmental problems faced by our local partners, contributing to sustainable solutions in the places where we live and work. The SFS community is part of a growing network of individuals and institutions committed to environmental stewardship. 


Lecturer in Environmental Justice (Sabbatical replacement) 

Reports To:  

  • Center Director, Center for Ecological Resilience Studies 

  • Dean, Office of Academic Affairs 

Location: Atenas, Costa Rica 

Start Date: May 2024 


This is a temporary 3-month contract position to fill a vacancy during a faculty sabbatical. Salary is dependent on experience and qualifications. Comprehensive benefits package and on-site room and board included.  

Position Summary:  

The SFS Center for Ecological Resilience Studies, located in Atenas, Costa Rica seeks an enthusiastic, team-oriented individual to serve as part of a team of faculty and staff that delivers an interdisciplinary, hands-on learning experience to students spending a summer in Costa Rica. On a temporary contract basis, the Lecturer in Environmental Justice will co-teach two 50-hour summer courses: Coffee, Chocolate, and Sustainable Development in June and Environmental Justice from the Ground Up in July. 

SFS programs are field-based and experiential. This position will engage students in a classroom and through extensive time spent in the field. We encourage faculty to integrate as much fieldwork and hands-on experience into their courses as possible. 

SFS programs do not follow a nine to five model. Faculty are also integral members of the Center’s communal living model, eating and working with the student cohort.  

Faculty are expected to be active members in the community-building process. Additional responsibilities outside of teaching may include participation in community engagement days, involvement in student life, organization of laboratory space, and general Center upkeep. We are especially interested in candidates with experience teaching to a diverse student body, and demonstrated commitment to diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence in a learning environment, conservation, and the Center’s host community.  

Center Focus:  

The SFS Center for Ecological Resilience Studies program is a field-based, interdisciplinary program focused on the complex issues of sustainable development, with special emphasis on finding balance among biodiversity protection, the sustainable use of natural resources, and fulfilling the economic development needs of local communities. Our research and teaching activities focus on questions related to the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of tourism (I.e., food security), ecosystem fragmentation, and conflicts and synergies between protected areas and local communities. By studying the impacts of development on natural ecosystems and local communities, we aim to provide insights into how to achieve a balance that benefits both people and the environment and to promote policies and practices that support ecological resilience and social well-being. Research is conducted in three thematic areas: ecological and socioeconomic impacts of tourism, effective management of protected areas and community relationships, and ecosystem connectivity and function. 

Read more about the School for Field Studies research model: Our Research - School for Field Studies 

SFS Position on Diversity and Inclusion:  

SFS was founded with the belief that stewardship of our planet is the responsibility of people all around the world. Addressing complex global issues requires the active inclusion of stakeholders with varying perspectives and identities. We recognize that to successfully address threats to our natural world, we must look beyond social constructs designed to divide us. Just as we value biodiversity in all its forms, we value and engage with a multitude of diverse perspectives and people in the countries where we work and the students and staff we serve. 

Duties and Responsibilities 

SFS Lecturer positions are different than many other university teaching positions. Lecturers are integral members of the Center’s communal living model. The faculty team works closely and collaboratively to deliver a field-based interdisciplinary program, where programming days can be long and active. In addition to providing high quality, inquiry-based teaching, faculty also expected to participate fully in student life. 


  • As part of an interdisciplinary teaching team, co-teach the Coffee, Chocolate, and Sustainable Development and Environmental Justice from the Ground Up courses, alongside other faculty members. Course descriptions are found below. 

  • Effectively deliver a challenging, problem-based interdisciplinary curriculum to learners from diverse disciplinary and cultural backgrounds 

  • Deliver lectures and course materials, and adhere to a daily academic schedule in a timely and professional manner 

  • Actively support and counsel students on academic issues 

  • Prepare, administer, and grade assignments, quizzes, and assessments 

  • Maintain an organized course portfolio 

  • Participate in preparation of final reports, academic handbook revisions, and other required administrative tasks 

  • Maintain equipment as required for teaching in the field 

Daily Center Life 

  • Work flexible hours and live on site or nearby the field station with a small team of permanent staff and groups of US undergraduate students.  

  • Contribute to the creation of a living-learning community that is inclusive of diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds, in which all learners have the opportunity to thrive 

  • Actively model skills in competence, awareness, and knowledge necessary for meaningfully working with, interacting with, and learning from others who may differ from oneself in identity and/or lived experience 

  • On a rotating basis, act as on-call "staff of the day/week"  

  • Participate in the planning of activities and summer calendar prior to the start of the program 

  • Participate in and lead parts of the orientation and re-entry components of the program presented to students at the beginning and end of each program 

  • Participate in evaluations and reflection discussions following students' departure 

  • Take part in, and occasionally lead, community outreach events, site upkeep projects, and field activities 

  • In cooperation with other program staff, provide day-to-day coordination of interns and/or field assistants as delegated by the Center Director 

  • As requested by the Center Director, assist with other logistical, group management, and administrative tasks 

  • At all times, work to ensure good relations between the SFS and the local community 

  • Drive standard transmission vehicles and boats as needed (driving license may be required) 

Safety and Wellbeing 

  • Take responsibility, as an individual and as a member of the Center team, for the safety of all program participants 

  • Complete Risk Management Plans in a timely fashion for each field outing 

  • Participate in resolving group management issues and student discipline problems 

  • Adhere to, actively model, and enforce all SFS and program policies and procedures, including the values of the SFS Position on Diversity and Inclusion 

  • Participate in the review and revision of program risk assessment and management plans 

  • Know the emergency procedures plan for the field station, including evacuation plan 

  • Participate in the safety portions of the on-site orientation and conduct safety briefings for students and/or staff 

  • Complete incident reports when appropriate and contribute to safety audits. 

  • Obtain Wilderness First Aid certification prior to first day of work (SFS support and reimbursable available) and ensure first-aid certifications are kept up to date 

Minimum Qualifications 

  • Master’s degree and university-level teaching experience in environmental justice, environmental policy, sociology, environmental economics, agroecology, or similar field. 

  • Field research experience, preferably in agroecology, tropical food systems, community environmental organizing, or similar field. 

  • Demonstrated commitment to creating inclusive learning environments 

  • Demonstrated ability to work as part of an interdisciplinary teaching team 

  • Experience leading forest walks and hikes 

  • Experience teaching classes in the field 

  • Demonstrated commitment to environmental issues 

  • Fluent in English (all courses taught in English), high proficiency in Spanish 

Preferred Qualifications 

  • Ph.D. and university-level teaching experience in environmental justice, environmental policy, sociology, environmental economics, agroecology, or similar field. 

  • Experience working in Costa Rica or the region 

  • Experience teaching field courses 

  • Experience with residential student group management and/or risk management 

  • Experience cross-teaching or collaborating on projects in agroecology, tropical food systems, community environmental organizing, or similar field. 

  • Able to operate standard transmission vehicles and boats (driving license may be required) 

  • Current First Aid, CPR, and/or Wilderness First Aid certification 

  • Fluent in Spanish 

Expectations for Faculty Conduct: The School for Field Studies strives to create and maintain a work environment in which people are treated with dignity, decency, and respect. The SFS environment is characterized by mutual trust and the absence of intimidation, oppression, and exploitation. SFS will not tolerate unlawful discrimination or harassment, including sexual harassment, of any kind. Through enforcement of this policy and by education of employees, SFS seeks to prevent, correct, and discipline behavior that violates this policy. 

All offers of employment at The School for Field Studies Panama are contingent upon clear results of a thorough background check. Background checks will be conducted on all final candidates and on all employees as deemed necessary. 

Course Descriptions: 

Coffee, Chocolate, and Sustainable Development: This interdisciplinary 4-week summer program aims to explore the complex social and ecological components that are intertwined with the production of coffee and cacao in Costa Rica. We will delve into the natural and political history of this highly biodiverse country, considering the impacts of early cacao production, including the use of slavery, and the transformation of forested lands into coffee plantations owned by elites. We will examine current questions of cultural representation, agro-tourism, land use strategies, and agricultural certifications, and explore how these issues affect the local flora, fauna, and society. We will conduct site visits to different coffee and cacao farms and producers to learn about various production methods and policies and their impact on the local environment and communities. We will explore the relationships between cacao and coffee production, climate change, social justice movements, and biodiversity conservation. By the end of the program, students should have gained a comprehensive understanding of the complex interplay between social, economic, and environmental factors in the production of coffee and cacao in Costa Rica. They will also have developed practical research skills and an appreciation for the importance of interdisciplinary approaches in understanding complex problems. 

Environmental Justice from the Ground Up: Despite significant progress, Costa Rica still faces great environmental challenges. Key resources, like water and food, are often directed to tourists instead of local populations. The expansion of monocrop agricultural production, which depends on the intensive use of pesticides and fertilizers, is polluting water sources and destroying the natural forests. Rural communities in rural and coastal areas have seen their way of life threatened by gentrification. Ecosystem services are jeopardized by development strategies placing profit ahead of human and environmental health. The challenges are many, and in this course, we will analyze three case studies illustrating environmental threats and the social movements working to alleviate them and create more just societies: 

  • Case study 1: Food justice and seed sovereignty 

  • Case study 2: Water justice and social movements 

  • Case study 3: Use of bioindicators and measurement of ecosystem services to assess ecological justice 

These themes will be analyzed during lectures, discussions, and field trips. For the final component of the course, students will actively synthesize concepts and methodologies learned in class and field activities in an integrated final essay summarizing a specific aspect of the EJ issues examined here. Throughout the program, there will be room for discussion with fellow students and faculty, to provide a comprehensive introduction to EJ issues and conflicts and how to propose solutions. 

Applicants are encouraged to review the full course syllabi and programs descriptions on the SFS website: Ecological Resilience Studies - School for Field Studies 

To Apply: Submit a cover letter and resume outlining relevant experiences via the online application on the SFS Careers page at https://fieldstudies.catsone.com/careers/ 

Applicants have rights under Federal Employment Laws: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)  

Equal Opportunity Employer:  

SFS is committed to providing equal employment opportunities for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, creed, caste, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetics, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, national origin or ancestry, ethnic origin, or veteran status. 


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