• Costa Rica and Panama 2015 Field Course
  • Field research that focuses on real-world issues like global climate change, loss of biodiversity, and pollution of ecosystems.
  • We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by syntheizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make importnat choices wisely. - Edward O. Wilson
  • Explore. Research. Conserve.

Welcome to CHANCE

Today, humanity faces this reality – the environment is broken on local, state (province), national, and global scales most of which are a result of human impact on natural resources and ecosystems.

Penn State CHANCE is an environmental education and professional development outreach program that uses real-world experiences to challenge students to think critically about conservation issues while transforming them into the problem solvers that our society desperately needs.

About CHANCE »
Online Modules. Try one today

CHANCE Newswire

14 April 2015

Can the World Really Set Aside Half of the Planet for Wildlife?
The eminent evolutionary biologist, E.O.Wilson, has an audacious vision for saving Earth from a cataclysmic extinction event.
Read Smithsonian article »

29 March 2015
Osa Peninsula
The Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. Image: Carter Hunt
Researchers Study Tourism-Poverty Nexus in Central America
Central American economies are experiencing an ongoing boom in tourism, and in certain regions this often comes with real estate speculation in support of a trend toward all-inclusive resorts, large hotels and vacation homes. A study conducted by researchers at Penn State and partnering institutions, however, challenges the notion...
Read Penn State newswire »

05 March 2015
Documentary on Air Pollution Grips China
On Youku, a popular Chinese video-sharing site, "Under the Dome" had been played more than 14 million times by Sunday afternoon on March , 2015. The Paper, a Chinese news website, estimated that by Saturday night, the documentary had been opened more than 35 million times across various websites.
Watch video and read story »

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Field Courses

CHANCE Costa Rica/Panama 2015 Field Course

A Penn State University and Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS)/La Selva collaboration. The focus of this program, Conservation Biology and Sustainability of Select Tropical Ecosystems, which includes spring, 2015 online and summer, 2015 field course components, is to explore rainforest, coral reefs, sea grasses, and mangrove root ecosystems. The word explore is all encompassing here as it not only means to physically experience theses ecosystems with all the human senses open, but to question the phenomena that are affecting the maintenance, loss, and restoration of the biological diversity within these fragile environments through research. A highlight of the field course will be working with nesting sea turtles and hatchlings to ensure the recovery and sustainable management of depleted sea turtle populations worldwide. DATES for field course: June 15 - July 1, 2015
Visit field course website for applications

OTS Jiangnan University logo Nanjing University logo

CHANCE China 2015 Field Course

A Penn State University, Jiangnan University (Wuxi, China), and Nanjing University (Nanjing, China) collaboration. The focus of this program is on China's fresh water supply and efforts needed to restore and conserve it. Twenty-four undergraduate students (8 from each university) will be selected from all three institutions to participate in a 17-day journey to study the Yangtze River watershed, which consists of the longest river in Asia and the third-largest in the world. Locations to be explored include: Shanghai; YiChang, Hubei Province; Wuxi, Suzhou and Nanjing, Jiangsu Province; and, Beijing. Field research will analyze efforts to reverse the pollution and resulting eutrophication of Lake Tai, China's third largest lake, as a result of the rapid economic growth in the surrounding cities of Wuxi and Suzhou. Also, all involved students and faculty will investigate the impact of urban development on the tributaries of the Yangzte in the Nanjing area. Highlights for this program include an international student-run panel discussion in Beijing on the sustainability of China's fresh water supply, and participation in a restoration project in the Yangtze watershed with members of Green Oasis, an NGO based in Shanghai.
DATES for field course: July 6-23, 2015.
Visit the field course website

Penn State University logo Jiangnan University logo Nanjing University logo


CHANCE Recognition

Organization for Tropical StudiesCHANCE would like to recognize one of its partners, Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), La Selva Biological Station, for its work to advance research, education and conservation of tropical ecosystems. This work was recently recognized in a front-page piece in the New York Times.

For five decades, OTS has been the world's leading institution in the study of tropical biology with more than 350 graduate-level courses in the ecology and management of natural resources and over eight thousand students participating in its programs and conducting research annually.

Research at the OTS stations has added significantly to what is known about tropical biology and forest ecosystems - more than 300 scientists from 25 countries work at OTS sites each year. The traditional focus on education and research has broadened to encompass quality-learning options for natural history visitors and local schoolchildren who come to the OTS stations just for short visits.

Together CHANCE and OTS are breaking new ground in involving undergraduate students in participating in real research activities in Costa Rica, specifically at the La Selva Biological Station. With a combination of on-line learning and in-the-field experiences, their joint programs are changing students' perceptions and values, bringing to them transformational experiences that help them set their future careers.

Featured Video

Other CHANCE featured videos »


14 March 2015
CHANCE Fellow researches in Brazil
Ben FowlerBenjamin Fowler, a CHANCE 2013 Fellow, began working in Dr. David Hughes's laboratory a few months after the conclusion of the CHANCE field program. Dr. Hughes's lab works with the Ophiocordyceps/ant parasitic relationship (known colloquially as "zombie-ants") in order to better understand disease dynamics in social communities and mechanisms of parasitic host-manipulation, an example of the extended phenotype. Ben's work focuses on understanding how the Ophiocordyceps fungus is able to transmit from an infected ant cadaver on a leaf or twig to a naïve host on a trail nearby. After receiving a grant from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Ben and a graduate student, João Araújo, traveled to Reserva Florestal Adolpho Ducke near Manaus, Brazil. During two weeks in the Amazon, Ben conducted several novel experiments to document the quantity and timing of Ophiocordyceps spore release. In addition, Ben and João located, collected, and are working to identify potentially more than a dozen new species of entomopathogenic fungi. GO BEN!

Our Other Fellows »

Resources For Educators

29 March 2015
Naturalist Outreach program logo
Naturalist Outreach Workshop Opportunity for Undergraduate Educator

This 2.5 day NSF-funded professional development workshop on October 10 -12, 2015 for faculty and college educators will help you organize a course in how to do effective scientific outreach, develop an outreach program, provide guidance on how to host a large community science outreach event, and help you engage with K-12 teachers and museums. The workshop will be delivered by science outreach experts from Cornell University's Naturalist Outreach Program, the Sciencenter, and Museum of the Earth at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. The workshop, 3-nights hotel, and meals are free to participants. Applications will be accepted until June 10, 2015 at https://blogs.cornell.edu/outreachworkshop/apply. All successful applicants will be notified by July 15, 2015. A deposit of $300 will be required to reserve a space in the workshop. This deposit will be returned upon completion of the workshop.
For more information »

25 March 2015
Penn State CSATS logo
Teacher Workshop: Pushing the Limits of Weather Forecasting - Relationship to Climate Change

Join Meteorology professors and researchers Drs. Steven Feldstein and Sukyoung Lee, in collaboration with Penn State CSATS science educators, in this NSF funded grant in Climate and Large-Scale Dynamics. Teachers will become immersed into the practices scientists use to perform and understand medium-range weather forecasts. Gaining relevant research experience along with collaborating with science educators, teachers will be able to translate this information into classroom lessons aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards that emphasize student learning about the practices of scientists.
For more information »

20 March 2015
National Environmental Education Week logo
Celebrate EE Week April 19 - 25

Sponsored by Samsung and the National Environmental Education Foundation, National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) will be held April 19 – 25 and is the nation's largest celebration of environmental education. It is held each spring around the time of Earth Day to inspire environmental learning and stewardship among K-12 students. This year, EE Week looks at how science can help us better understand the natural world with the theme Surrounded by Science, part of our continuing series on Greening STEM. Make EE Week part of your plans this spring with tools and resources available for environmental learning throughout the year!
Visit site »


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Resources For Students

14 April 2015
Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) Learning Resources
Explore EOL's newly redesigned Learning Resources that group EOL collections, podcasts and learning activities under topics including Behavior, Invasive Species, Biological Classification and more. Two new articles about algae and evolution have been added to our popular Topics in Biodiversity section of introductory articles that provide links to more in-depth information and media on EOL. MycoKeys is a peer-reviewed, open-access, online and print, rapidly produced journal launched to support free exchange of ideas and information in systematics and biology of fungi (including lichens).
Visit EOL now »

14 March 2015

PSU Libraries
Library Award for Undergraduate Research
The University Libraries, Penn State's Sustainability Institute, and Cengage Learning are partnering to sponsor the Library Award for Undergraduate Research on Sustainability and the Environment. Students at all Penn State campuses are invited to apply. One $1000 prize will be awarded. Two additional prizes of $500 each will be awarded. Prizes will be awarded on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2015.
For more information »

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