Environment and Development


The Department of Environment and Development focuses on efforts to reconcile poverty alleviation withenvironmental protection in a manner that contributes to peaceful conflict resolution. We emphasize sustained critical analysis in order to formulate solutions that do not just deal with surface issues but address the root causes of environmental problems and underdevelopment. Our approach is grounded in political ecology, an interdisciplinary perspective that highlights the importance of political economic structures and inequality in access to resources as key drivers in environmental conflict and global environmental change. Our teaching, based in principles of peace education, promotes student-centered learning and active participation through collaborative discussion. We take full advantage of our unique location in Costa Rica by including within all of our courses case studies and field visits to explore the many innovative sustainable development projects occurring throughout the country.

Our students have gone on to successful careers with a wide variety of organizations, including UN agencies, government offices around the world, NGOs both local and international, and progressive private sector firms. Many have also continued in higher education, pursuing doctoral degrees in the social sciences. By joining the Department, you therefore become part of a growing global network of scholars and practitioners working towards sustainable development and environmental peacebuilding.

The Department offers three Masters of Arts degrees:

  • MA in Environment, Development and Peace with optional several distinct specializations depending on students’ particular interests.

  • Specialization in Sustainable Food Systems (SFS)

  • Specialization in Climate Change Policy (CCP)

  • Specialization in Environmental Security and Governance (ESG)

  • Specialization in Sustainable Natural Resource Management (SNRM)

    MA in Responsible Management and Sustainable Economic Development

  • Dual MA in Natural Resources and Sustainable Development together with American University in Washington, DC.




Main courses Academic Year 2015-2016

The 41 credit programme is distributed over two semesters and one research term for a total duration of 11 months. Courses are taught in intensive three week time periods, requiring 45 hours of class work, under the guidance of highly qualified professors and recognized international guest lecturers. During the final term, participants are expected to finalize their work at UPEACE’s main campus through the completion of an Independent Research Project or Internship.


Following the courses for the Academic Year 2015-2016:

Courses Common to all Programmes

  • UPM 6001 UPEACE Foundation Course (3 Credits)
  • UPM 6003 General Course on the United Nations and UPMUNC (3 Credits)
  • UPM 6002 Tools for Conflict Resolution and Transformation (3 credits)

  • DED-6007 Environment, Conflicts, and Sustainability (3 Credits)
  • ESP-6060 Water, Security and Peace  (3 Credits)
  • NRD-6026 Sustainable Agriculture (3 Credits)
  • NRD-6092 Management of Coastal Resources (3 Credits)
  • DED-6014 Disaster Risk Reduction (3 Credits)
  • DED-6015 Food Security (3 Credits)
  • NRD 6021 Research Methods (3 Credits)
  • DED-6010 Gender, Sustainable Economic Development and the Environment (3 Credits)
  • DED-6018 Climate Change Governnce (3 Credits)
  • NRD 6083 Natural Resource Management Field Course (3 Credits)
  • DED-6016 Human Vulnerability and Climate Change Adaptation (3 Credits)
  • NRD 6075 Forests, Forestry and Poverty (3 Credits)




Resident Faculty


 Jan Breitling (Germany)

Assistant Professor,

Jan Breitling holds a BSc in Tropical Forestry from the Technological Institute of Costa Rica, Cartago, Costa Rica, a MSc in Environmental Sciences from Wageningen University and Research Centre, Netherlands, and is enrolled in the UPEACE Doctorate Program in Peace and Conflict Studies. His main areas of teaching and research are Environmental Governance, Conservation, Development, Neoliberal Globalization and Global Environmental Change, Political Ecology of Deforestation, Natural Resource Conflicts, and Environmental Security.


German, English and Spanish.