The Natural Resources and Sustainable Development (NRSD) dual degree program offers students the opportunity to gain a macro-level perspective in Washington, DC, at American University's School of International Service (SIS), while also exposing students to sustainable development in practice at the United Nations mandated University for Peace (UPeace) in Costa Rica. Located in a nature reserve outside of Ciudad Colon, a town about 30 minutes from San Jose, UPeace is a small, graduate-level, English-language university with students and faculty from all over the world.
Students earn an MA in International Affairs from American University, while receiving an MA in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development from the University for Peace.
In their first semester, NRSD students take courses alongside Global Environmental Politics M.A. and other SIS students. In addition to taking the required Environment and Politics seminar (SIS 660), students typically take an economics course — often Environmental Economics (ECON 579) or Intro to Economic Theory (ECON 603) — and either an international development course or a substantive GEP seminar in water governance, political ecology of food and agriculture, or climate change politics. NRSD students also take a non-credit course in Spanish, unless they have attained fluency.
During their second and third semesters, which are spent at the University for Peace, NRSD students choose from an array of required and elective UPeace course offerings. At UPeace, students typically take one course at a time, offered during 3-week modules, and they may also take additional Spanish coursework. Students choose from a wide range of courses at UPeace, including Disaster Risk Reduction, field courses on resource management, and courses on food, agriculture, and water. Students are also able to take advantage of courses in other programs at UPeace, including courses on gender and peace studies.
In addition, NRSD students satisfy an experience requirement for UPEACE and American through a mandated summer internship identified with support from AU and UPEACE faculty in a geographic and focal area of their choice. These internships take students across the world, as close to home as Washington DC and occasionally as far away as Asia and Africa.
Upon returning to AU in their fourth semester, NRSD students finish their course requirements with three seminars and also fulfill their capstone research requirement, either through an individual significant research paper or a team research practicum.