Through the SFS: Panama Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies program, the archipelago of Bocas Del Toro becomes the classroom where forest and shore come together. Students study the state of the island system's fragile natural habitats, defining the main environmental issues and understanding the community's goals in natural resource management.  The archipelago hosts more marine and terrestrial species than almost anywhere on Earth.

“The program’s focus on scientific research was very beneficial and I left with a much broader understanding of the scientific process and scientific writing. The field aspects of the program were almost always fun, and supplemented what we were learning in the classroom well.” - Adrienne G. ‘18

Faculty Adviser:

Professor Delbert Hutchison (Biology Department)

Fields of study:

Ecology, environmental studies


Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8 (Whitman requirement); Completion of at least one college-level ecology, biology, or environmental studies science course.  Competent swimming ability required.

Language Prerequisite:

None, but students' experience will be enhanced if they have at least one semester of college-level Spanish (or three years of high school Spanish).


18 credits per semester - Required Courses:
Tropical Coastal Ecology (4 credits)
Principles of Resource Management (4 credits)
Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values (4 credits)
Directed Research (4 credits)
Language, Culture , and Society of Panama (2 credits)

Credit Conversion:

1 SFS credit = 1 Whitman credit




Students live at the SFS Center on a quiet waterfront on Isla Colon.


Provided by SFS at their Center.

Semesters Offered:

Fall, Spring


late August – December, February – May


Rolling Admission - students are encouraged to apply early.


SFS Financial Aid

Program Link:

SFS: Panama Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies