30 years of Education for a Sustainable Future


Advancing Sustainable Living

The Monteverde Institute advances sustainable living at the local and global level through place-based education, applied research, and collaborative community programs.

Where We Began

By 1985, Monteverde was watching itself undergo large changes. It had officially been discovered around the world for its incredible natural surroundings and the lush space available for research. Two international publications had featured stories exploring the wonder of Monteverde. As a response, tourists began to come. The rapid growth of the tourist industry left local residents concerned, and considering options for “guiding” the types of travelers to Monteverde.

A solution was proposed: Fewer visitors for longer periods of time through educational programs. John Trostle and Nalini Nadkarni recognized there was an opportunity and a need for undergraduate students to come to Monteverde. Discussions began with Henry Weaver, of the Education Abroad Program in the University of California system, who was already a Monteverde enthusiast and had been visiting the area for some time.

After three Town Hall style meetings with many members of the community, a consensus was reached that the Institute could facilitate a more meaningful form of tourism: studying abroad. The Institute would also give back to the community through service-learning projects and cultural exchange.

Our First Mission Statement - 1986

In 1986 our founders had the forsight to place emphasis on a sustainable future.

Our Legacy Mission directs the Monteverde Institute to pursue the following goals:

I) To provide educational opportunities that explore the ways in which human beings can work toward a sustainable future. These educational opportunities will be based on the particular setting, resources and example of the Montevede community and surrounding area. 

II) To integrate all the programs and infrastructure of Monteverde in such a way that is congruent with the vision of a sustainable future.

III) To coordinate its own programs with the programs of other organizations and projects.

IV) To extend the benefits of its programs to a wider community, adopting local educational initiatives.

And further, The Monteverde Institute is a public service, non-profit association, dedicated to peace, justice, knowledge and the vision of a sustainable future. It provides programs which promote the appreciation of diversity and community, spirituality and the wellness of all living beings. These opportunities are designed for people from other countries and Costa Rica and for the residents of the Monteverde community and the surrounding zone.

First Education Abroad Program

The Monteverde Institute hosted its first group of students from the Universities of California system in the Spring of 1987. The same year they began home-stay families. Nalini Nadkarni and her husband, Jack Longino, also a former Monteverde researcher led the first group. Coincidentally, Jack and Nalini met and fell in love here.

Homestay Families; The Connection to the Community

A large concern for the Founders of MVI was how the Institute might give back to the community. One answer was found in the Homestay family program, a very important component of studying abroad in Monteverde. Students may spend anywhere from two weeks to four months with their families, but regardless of the duration, it is always a meaningful experience.

Detailed History

The history of Monteverde Institute has been documented by Dr. Leslie Burlingame. Leslie is a science and environmental historian who has been visiting Monteverde since 1991. In 1992 Leslie attended a short course on rainforest ecology and conservation through the Monteverde Institute and began research on conservation organizations in Costa Rica, including the MVI. Some of her findings appeared in Narkarni and Wheelwright (eds.), Monteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest. She is a retired professor in the Science, Technology, and Society Program at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. and writes histories of MVI and other conservation and educational organizations in Monteverde.

We are pleased to present her work here.

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