The Department of Environment and Development (DED) at the Unversity for Peace focuses on efforts to reconcile poverty alleviation with environmental 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.


André Nijhof (1969) has a masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Twente. He started his working life as a researcher of organisational change in multinational companies like Akzo Nobel, Asito, Shell Pernis, Stegeman Sara Lee and Vredestein. Based on his research he finished his PhD at the University of Twente just before the turn of the century (1999). Next he became a senior consultant at Q-Consult, where he specialized in corporate social responsibility and the implementation of management systems. Andre is former chairman of the Dutch Network on Business Ethics. Since 2007 he has been associate professor at the European Institute for Business Ethics, part of Nyenrode Business Universiteit.

Dr. Cordula Reimann has worked for twenty years as consultant, facilitator, trainer, researcher and lecturer on gender, social change, development and conflict transformation. As practitioner–scholar, Cordula has worked for international and Swiss governmental and non-governmental organisations like Crisis Management Initiative, amnesty international, the Institute for Multi-track Diplomacy in Washington, DC, GIZ and the Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management in Berlin and for nearly ten years at the Swiss peace foundation swisspeace, where she was head of analysis and impact of peacebuilding. Cordula has field experiences mainly in South Asia and the Middle East. With a doctorate in “Peace Studies” on gender, conflict and peacebuilding from the University of Bradford, Cordula has been senior lecturer at different European and Swiss universities and visiting professor at the University of Graz, Austria and the University for Peace, Costa Rica. Her main areas of expertise are gender, conflict sensitivity, development, conflict analysis, transgenerational trauma, loneliness and conflict transformation. Cordula is a trained mediator and has widely published on gender, conflict and conflict transformation theory and practice. In 2011, Cordula set up her own consultancy business called “core. consultancy & training in conflict transformation” ( and later her coaching business called “core change coaching” (

1.      Dr. Corinne Schuster-Wallace has broad experience at the water-health nexus including linkages with gender, climate change, and sustainable development. She is a water-health researcher within Global Water Futures program, member of the Global Institute for Water Security and Centre for Hydrology, and faculty member in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Saskatchewan. She currently holds adjunct faculty status at McMaster University, Queen’s University, and the University of Waterloo in Canada. Previous positions include Senior Research Fellow (water-health) in the Water and Human Development Programme at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), Research Associate in the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph (Canada), and a water-environment specialist for the Public Health Agency of Canada. In addition to publications across many different media, Corinne consulted to the Provincial Commission of Inquiry (Part II) into the Walkerton, Ontario (Canada) drinking water tragedy of 2000


Dr Wheeler is co-founder of the Academy for Sustainable Innovation, a non-profit social venture committed to equipping a generation of young professionals with the skills and knowledge to manage transition to a low carbon and socially just economy. He is a member of the Corporate Social Responsibility Advisory Council for Export Development Canada and the Environment and Social Advisory Council for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. David is an internationally experienced academic and business person with four decades of senior executive level involvement in change management and sustainable business practice, research and teaching. Throughout his career David has been requested to provide support to senior management teams in pursuing strategic change. His most recent academic posts were President and Vice-Chancellor of Cape Breton University (2013-2016), Pro Vice-Chancellor (Sustainability) and Executive Dean of Business at the University of Plymouth, UK (2010-2013), Dean of Management, Dalhousie University, Canada (2006-2009) and Director and Erivan K Haub Professor in Business and Sustainability at the Schulich School of Business, York University, Canada (1999-2006). For most of the 1990s David was a member of The Body Shop International senior executive team responsible for all aspects of the company’s values and practices. During the 1980s he worked in water quality and health issues for a range of international development agencies and humanitarian organisations working in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

1.      Frances Roberts-Gregory is an ecowomanist ethnographer and feminist political ecologist. She is a co-founding member of the Feminist Agenda for a Green New Dealformer environmental educator for the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, and former resource developer for the New Orleans and C40 Women4Climate Mentorship Program. From 2018-2019, Frances taught courses on gender, environmental racism, digital activism, and climate justice at Tulane University and Bard Early College New Orleans. In 2020, Frances began a new position as a Future Faculty Fellow at Northeastern University. Reach her via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @BlackngreenPhD. 


Dr. Gabriela Cuadrado-Quesada is currently working as a researcher at IHE-Delft, Institute for Water Education, the Netherlands. Gabriela completed her PhD at the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia in 2017. Her doctoral research focuses on groundwater governance looking in particular at the design and implementation of legal and policy frameworks in Australia and Costa Rica. Currently she is expanding her research to new jurisdictions such as the Netherlands and India. Gabriela has previously completed a Masters in Water and Coastal Management and Environmental and Infrastructure Planning at the University of Oldenburg (Germany) and at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). She also completed a Masters in Human Rights and Education for Peace at the National University in Costa Rica. She obtained her Law Degree at the University of Costa Rica. Gabriela also worked in the NGO sector in Costa Rica as an environmental lawyer for many years. Her current research interests spring from a dual interest in the socio-legal implications of water crisis on the one hand, and on the other hand, practices that mix elements of community organisation and government responses. She also has experience teaching topics such as water governance, water law, environmental law, international environmental law, water conflicts and management, and water and gender.

Jan Breitling is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environment and Development at University for Peace. He holds a BSc. in Tropical Forestry, from the Technological Institute of Costa Rica, and a MSc. in Environmental Sciences from WUR Wageningen University and Research Center, The Netherlands. His research interests include root causes of deforestation and Global Environmental Change, and Environmental Governance, specifically market based approaches addressing biodiversity conservation and Climate Change.

Kifah Sasa is Sustainable Development Program Officer for the United Nations Development Programme in Costa Rica. Since 2009 he works as senior advisor for the Green Commodities Programme, advising governments and supply chain stakeholders on how to improve the environmental and social performance of commodity supply chains. Kifah has worked for social development and the environment for 17 years in different roles. From setting up and leading NGOs to support community organizations on a voluntary basis; to advising Central American Ministers of Social Integration, Housing and Health on the management of regional projects, as part of the Central American Integration System. For the past decade he has worked for the United Nations Development Programme, managing projects related to biodiversity conservation, marine protected areas, environmental economics; sustainable production of agricultural commodities and democratic dialogue. For the last 5 years he is responsible for UNDPs Sustainable Development portfolio in Costa Rica. He was trained in the United Kingdom (Middlesex, B.A, MA) and The Netherlands (ISS, Post Dip), Costa Rica.

M.Sc. in International Economics Studies from the Maastricht University, The Netherlands, and a Master’s degree in Development Studies with a specialization in Economics of Development from the Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague. From 2012 he is a Ph.D. candidate at the ISS.

He has experience in the study of trade and its social and economic impact in developing countries, specifically in Southern Africa and in Central America. He has also worked on rural development issues in transition countries, notably in the Caucasus and Central Asia. He holds experience in urban development studies, particularly focusing on informal settlement development, and labour market studies, specifically paid domestic work.

Currently, in his position as a researcher at the Institute of Social Research of the University of Costa Rica, he is specializing in the study of welfare regimes, gender, labour markets and the formation and impact of social and economic policies on the one hand, and trade on the other. Also, he is a lecturer at the School of Communication at the University of Costa Rica.

Marco Quesada is currently the country-program Director of Conservation International’s Costa Rica Program. He has an undergraduate (B.Sc., 1996) and a masters (M.Sc., 2001) degree in biology from Universidad de Costa Rica and a Ph.D. from the Department of Marine Affairs of the University of Rhode Island. While his M.Sc. thesis was done on the subject of marine zooplankton ecology, his Ph.D. dissertation was developed on the subject of community participation in fisheries management. Marco has participated in scholar exchanges in Portland State University (US) and the University of La Rochelle (Fra), and has been a professor at U. Peace, Universidad de Costa Rica and conducted research in Costa Rica and Alaska, U.S. He is a member of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Stakeholder Council, the Blue Carbon Scientific Working Group, acts as a national delegate to the InterAmerican Tropical Tuna Commission and is part of Costa Rica’s Commission against illegal fishing, as well as several other public and private advisory bodies.
Marjolein Baghuis is a driven sustainability professional with a diverse international background. After an extensive career in both corporate and NGO leadership positions, in 2013, she became a sustainability consultant. She now consults companies, NGOs and various Dutch Ministries on sustainable business practices. She supports these organizations with strategic advice, reporting services and multi-stakeholder process management. Next to her work as a consultant, Marjolein serves on various (supervisory) boards and teaches sustainability-related topics to different audiences, ranging from students at UPEACE and Nyenrode Business University to supervisory board members.
Melania grew up dreaming of exploring extreme environments. She studied Mechanical Engineering in University of Costa Rica and went on to do an internship at the Johnson Space Center of NASA with astronaut Franklin Chang Díaz for a year. Then she obtained his Master's and Doctorate in Oceanography from the University of California at San Diego and as a researcher at Cornell University and the University of Washington, concentrating on studying the sounds submarines of marine animals and the impact that have been affected by anthropogenic noise, a type of sonic pollution caused by industrial activities. She specializes in areas of the Arctic Ocean that are dramatically affected by climate change. Participating in multiple field expeditions on research ships inspired interest in scientific knowledge for international decision making, a discipline called scientific diplomacy. In 2018 she was chosen for the prestigious Nippon Grant in the Division of Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea of the United Nations, Training in ocean governance and multilateral law. Melania is currently supporting the Costa Rican diplomatic delegations in international negotiation processes for the climate and the ocean. At the beginning of 2019, Melania represented Costa Rica in the Homeward Bound expedition, a female leadership initiative for science that takes place in Antarctica, becoming the second Costa Rican woman to have done science in both polar regions. Homeward Bound is a program that aims to create a network of 1000 scientific women for 10 years and develop their leadership skills, with the aim to raise the voices of women to high-level positions where they can tackle global problems like climate change and sustainable development.

Executive Director, Earth Charter International Secretariat and the Earth Charter Center on Education for Sustainable Development
Mirian is the coordinator of the UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development with the Earth Charter. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she was an Edward Mason Fellow and holds a B.Sc. with focus on International Trade. She is currently finalizing on a Doctorate on Education focusing her research on education for sustainability. She has worked with the Earth Charter International Initiative since the beginning of 1996, therefore for more than 20 years; she has facilitated consultation processes and workshops, and coordinated local, regional and international projects in the field of sustainability values, education and policies. She has been a Professor in the Master's Programmes of the University for Peace since 2004 teaching in the areas of Sustainable Development, Environmental Governance, and Education for Sustainable Development. Mirian participated actively in major United Nations Conferences on Sustainable Development such as: Earth Summit (1992), Rio+5 (1997), Rio+10 in Johannesburg (2002), and Rio+20 (2012), articulating consultations and dialogues with various groups and sectors, as well as collaborating and influencing these processes.

Mohit is an innovator in the area of organizational development, focusing on developing and delivering programs on leadership, innovation, organizational well-being and social impact. He is the founding Director of the UPEACE Centre for Executive Education. In this role, he has developed and taught over 75 seminars in several countries (Haiti, USA, Switzerland, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Puerto Rico, India, Bangladesh, Costa Rica and the U.K) on themes ranging from ‘Designing Your Life’ to ‘Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Social Change’. While providing leadership to the UPEACE Centre for Executive Education, Mohit has also taken on consulting engagements with Florida International University and Watson Institute, an incubator for social entrepreneurs. Prior to this, Mohit served as Education Program Manager of the Earth Charter Initiative, an international nonprofit organization. He also spent four years at A.T. Kearney management consultants in San Francisco. Mohit has a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University, and did his Master’s at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Olivia Sylvester, Ph.D., is the Head of the Environment, Development and Peace Department, and assistant professor at the University for Peace. She is also an adjunct professor for Long Island University and teaches in their Global Studies programme. In the last decade, Olivia’s research program has focused on food security, sustainable agriculture, climate change, environmental justice, and gender. Specifically, she works with Indigenous people, women, small-scale farmers, and youth on these topics. Her research is driven by social and environmental justice and she uses relevant methodologies (e.g., Indigenous, feminist) to achieve these goals. Olivia is also member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the International Society of Ethnobiology, and the Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Project. Being active within these networks allows her to work at the interface of policy and practice.