The Institute for Central American Development Studies (ICADS) is a center for study, research, and analysis of Central American social and environmental issues. Since 1986, we focus on economic development, politics, environmental studies, sustainable development, public health, women’s issues, education, human rights, and conservation.

We offer four categories of programs: three distinct Study Abroad programs through which students can earn academic credit toward their university degree; a Summer Internship program; intensive Spanish language courses designed to immerse students in the Costa Rican context; and we also work with universities to create customized short-term programs. Students learn through readings, lectures, and interaction with local people in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama via internships and voluntary service.

My experience at ICADS has taught me a lot about the global nature of today's world, but even more about myself

  • Melody L.
West Texas A&M University



ICADS educates participants about Central America through Spanish classes and hands-on academic programs that help students deepen their Insights of social, political and economic realities while valuing  their effects on the local environment and society.


ICADS supports local organizations and communities by demonstrating a commitment to learning about local social justice issues. Through volunteer work and financial support, we support local education, healthcare, human rights, anti-hunger and environmental issues.


ICADS strives to increase the understanding of Central America learning through historical perspectives, analyzing root causes, studying inequality and injustice, evaluating current development strategies, studying issues on women, children, poverty, the poor, and the  environment.


Don Antonio (as he is known in Costa Rica) holds a Ph.D. in Political Economy and Third World Development from the University of Maryland, College Park, and an M.A. in International Relations from the same university. His B.A. is from Messiah College/Temple University. Prior to his work in Central America, Dr. Chamberlain was a Graduate Fellow/Instructor at the University of Maryland, a Foreign Expert at Beijing University, P.R. China and worked in both Venezuela and Colombia, South America.

Anthony Chamberlain

Javier Arguedas has a Master’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Costa Rica. He also completed a Licenciatura in Law from Autonomous University of Central America. (a two-year program after a Bachelor’s Degree, with a research project for graduation) He is also certified by Supreme Court of Costa Rica as Mediator. He has been a professor of law in various universities in the country, as well as a professor of training processes for mediators. He has also worked for more than ten years in international education programs.

Javier Arguedas

David received his M.A. from the Latin American Studies department at Tulane University. He is a resident of Costa Rica and has been working in Latin America for over 26 years. He did his thesis research on the effects of hunting on Paraguayan reptiles and in the late 1980’s came to Costa Rica to help set up the region’s first wildlife management master’s program.

David Norman

Field Program Professor
Gabriel has a Bachelor’s degree in English as Second Language and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Costa Rica. He also completed a Licenciatura in Sociology at the University of Costa Rica, doing field research and writing his thesis on the social representations about work and career perspectives of the Costa Rican labor force inserted into the prevalent industry of call centers. He likes to encourage students to think critically and to challenge their own assumptions about cultures and world issues.

Gabriel Vargas

Program Assistant, Sociology
Gaby studied Latin American Literature at the University of Costa Rica where she also received a Master’s in Spanish as a Second Language. She has been coordinating the ICADS Spanish department since 2007. Gaby is a trained ACTFL OPI interviewer and has been a professor of Spanish since 1997 and has directed Spanish programs in Costa Rica as well as Panama. One of the things that most motivates her about her work is the possibility of her students improving their Spanish so that they can build bridges between countries and open opportunities for greater intercultural understanding.

Gabriela Garcia

Spanish Program Coordinator
Rosa has a degree in Psychology. She has been a Spanish teacher at ICADS for 12 years. Now, she feels privileged to be able to find a home for each student and that students and Costa Rican families get to know each other, and see the world from a different perspective. These experiences will contribute to a better understanding of others, and to the construction of a better world. Serving others is one of Rosas’s main life goals and she has done it through different organizations. She also enjoys being with her family.

Rosa Picado Solis

Communications Coordinator
Diane studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of Costa Rica. She is now completing her Licenciatura in Strategic Communications. She has participated in many different projects including Era Verde (a Televison program about environmental issues), En la Academia (a Radio show about research projects), and Punto y Aparte, a program where she published an article about the critical situation of non-traditonal Costa Rican sports.

Diane Román

Communications Coordinator
Karla is Nicaraguan and has been working with ICADS for over 10 years, first as a host family for students living in Nicaragua, and now for the past 10 years as internship coordinator. Karla assists in placing students in internships, and carries out visits, logistical support, as well as coordination of ICADS study tours in Nicaragua during the semester program.

Karla Sossa, Nicaragua

Internship Coordinator