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  • Locations: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador; Napo, Ecuador; Quito, Ecuador
  • Program Terms: Early Fall
  • Homepage: Click to visit
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Program Information:
sociology italy
 Location Quito, Tena, and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Early Fall 2017
August 21 – September 18, 2017
 Estimated    Program Fee $4,510
 Credits 5 UW credits
 Prerequisites None
 Program      Directors Santiago Lopez, Vilma Illanes
 Program  Manager Katherine Kroeger |
 Application    Deadline April 2, 2017 - EXTENDED!
 Information  Session(s) UW Bothell:
Tues, January 24th 10am-11am, UW1-361
Mon, January 30th, 1pm-2pm, UW1-361

UW Seattle:
Fri. Feb 3rd, 12-1pm, 450 Schmitz Hall.
  General This seminar exposes students to relevant and current environmental issues in ecologically sensitive areas of Latin America such as the Amazon region, the Andes, and the Galapagos Islands. In general, the course will focus on the relationships between human development and biodiversity conservation, with an emphasis on Ecuadorian geography and history.
Where You Will Study
Expenses, Financial Aid, & Scholarships



Program Description

In the Early Fall (Aug 21 - Sep 17 2017), UW Bothell’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (IAS) proposes to offer an exploratory seminar entitled "Socio-Environmental Studies in the Ecuadorian Mainland and the Galapagos Islands." There will be three primary geographic locations where the course will take place. The first one will be in the Ecuadorian highlands where Quito (the capital city of Ecuador) is located. Here, students will be exposed to cultural and geographic aspects of the Ecuadorian highlands. During the first week, we will travel about 40 km to the north of Quito to the oldest Hacienda in Ecuador (Huachala). The main purpose of this field trip is to learn about the history and geography of the area. We will explore the surroundings of the Cayambe-Coca National Park. In the second week of the program we will travel to the eastern side of the Andes, into the Amazon basin (the second geographic region). We will visit the town of Lago Agrio (about 200 km to the east of Quito). We will visit some Kichwa and mesitzo communities where students will have the opportunity to observe the effects of the oil industry in the region. We will then visit an ecological reserve near the city of Tena to learn about the biology and ecology of the Andean foothills. In the last two weeks of the program, we will travel by air to the Galapagos Islands (the third geographic region). From Quito we will fly to Baltra Island and then travel by land to Puerto Ayora where we will visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and other places of interest in the island to learn about Galapagos biodiversity, human impacts on fragile ecosystems, ecological restoration, invasive species, and tourism. We will travel by sea to another island called Isabela. Here we will combine exploration, mapping, and discussion activities. The focus of this component of the course will be economic development and biodiversity conservation. If funds are available we will combine these field activities with information workshops with local researchers, professors from Ecuadorian universities, and other local actors.

In general, this program is intended to expose students to relevant and current environmental issues in ecologically sensitive areas of Latin America like the Amazon region, the Andes, and the Galapagos Islands. Students will also participate in live cultural events in Ecuador, have the opportunity to share compare their own culture with the culture of Ecuador, appreciate the rich and diverse culture of Latin American people, and visit some great historical and cultural sites in Ecuador.

Ecuador is the best environment to host a program like the one proposed here for two reasons:
1) The size of the country is relatively small and currently has a first order highway network, which makes transportation by land safe, easy, and economically attractive. As a side note, it is important to note that Ecuador’s currency is the US dollar, which makes financial planning easier for students than other places in the region.
2) Ecuador is a mega-diverse country with a broad range of ecological regions, fauna, flora, climates, and cultures and offers a wide ranging of research and learning opportunities for students.

The ways local resources will be used to enhance learning are multiple. First, the exposure of students to environmental and historical aspects that are representative of Latin-American is by itself a way to enhance environmental learning and global awareness. Second, given the connections of the program director with several local organizations that work in the area, the program will count with the participation of local professionals and researchers who maintain active work agendas in the three main geographic regions where this program will take place. Their participation will be through talks and field visits. Third, the interaction with local communities will provide students with the opportunity to learn about different cultures and modes of living and enhance the understanding of the human dimensions of environmental change.


Quito, Tena, and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador


Students will be staying mainly in youth hostels and hotels nearby the areas where activities will take place. This kind of accommodation is fairly safe and common in Ecuador and the places that we have selected were positively evaluated by students in the past. These hotels were selected based on proximity to the places where the activities will take place, safety, quality of services, and costs.



Pre-Requisites/Language Requirements

The program is designed for graduate and undergraduate students with interest in Latin America, environmental studies, geography, ecology, Spanish, and interdisciplinary studies. Students enrolled in the seminar who greatly benefited from the program in the past had majors in geography, environmental sciences and studies, and biology.

Although there are no prerequisites for this course, students with interest in the program will meet in person with the program directors to assess the likelihood of a student to succeed in this seminar. Students will greatly benefit if they have an intro level Spanish course prior to the start of the seminar.

Since we will traveling to different geographic regions, students should be able to quickly adapt to significant climate variations, environmental conditions, and be in good physical shape. We will do intensive walking/trekking and will visit high elevation areas (9,000- 13,000 feet) and areas below sea level.


5 Credits


BIS 480 or BIS-SPAN 489 or GEOG 395 (5 credits)

The course presents both environmental and historical topics that serve to introduce the student to various aspects of Ecuadorian Mainland and Galapagos Islands geography, tradition, customs, and values. Topics for this particular course include Latin American geography, history, ecology, human-environment interactions, sustainability, and GIS. The course combines field visits with written and oral practice of Spanish through oral reports, daily journal entries, compositions, class discussions and debates on assigned topics. They will be evaluated according to active participation in field activities, journal entries, oral presentations, short written essays, and a final paper.

Learning Goals: 

  • Explore relevant and current environmental issues in ecologically sensitive areas of Ecuador such as the Amazon region, the Andes, and the Galapagos Islands.
  • Develop a critical understanding of Ecuadorian and Latin American history.
  • Develop collaborative and share leadership through the engagement in applied research around environmental issues in Latin America and Ecuador.
  • Develop basic Spanish communication skills through interactive sessions that emphasize vocabulary and grammatical structure, daily journal entries, cultural presentations and oral interactions. Student learning will be assessed through journal entries, oral presentations, short written essays, and a final paper.
  • Journal = 20% of the grade The journal can be of any type. It may be a written summary of how daily activities relate to the readings and class work. It may also be a graphic digital journal (e.g. A scrapbook or video). We will use journal entries to assess how students engage with their study abroad experience on a daily basis using the framework provided in the literature.
  • Two 2-page reports = 30% (or 15% each) These reports will be done during the exploration seminar. In these reports students should clearly describe and reflect on what was accomplished in the different field activities and visits. We will use these reports to assess how students connect their field experiences with relevant literature on specific topics.
  • Class participation = 30% Class participation and group work will be fundamental to the success of this exploration seminar. Participation in these activities will have a significant bearing on the final grade and will help ensure maximum benefit for all involved. We will design specific activities around geography, history, and language. We will evaluate class participation through our direct interaction with students.
  • One five-page reflection essay = 20% The reflection essay should incorporate an in-depth discussion about any topic of choice. Suggested themes include but are not limited to: the bio-regions of Ecuador, natural resource use and history, conservation and development, indigenous peoples and rights, climate change and the Andes.

Program Directors & Staff

Santiago Lopez, UW Bothell School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, Program Director

Santiago Lopez is an Assistant Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell. He is the program Director and his research interests include geographic information science, land use and land cover changes in the Americas, and issues related to the human dimensions of global environmental change.

Vilma Illanes, UW Bothell Department of First Year & Pre-Major Program, Program Co-Director

Vilma Illanes is a Lecturer in the Department of First Year and Pre-Major Program at the University of Washington Bothell. She is the program Co-Director and has led study abroad programs in Spain and Mexico. Her interests are in the language, history, and literatures of Latin America and Spain.


Program Expenses

Cost: $4,300

Estimated Program Fee of $4,300, the UW Study Abroad Fee ($350), airfare, food (about $20/day), UW Study Abroad Insurance ($62/month), other health expenses/immunizations and personal spending money.

Average Airplane Ticket Price

$1,100* roundtrip

*Subject to when & where you buy your ticket

Payment Schedule

Program fees will be posted to your MyUW student account and can be paid the same way that you pay tuition and other fees. Check your MyUW Account periodically for due dates.

Payment Type Payment Amount Payment Due Date
Non-Refundable Study Abroad Fee $350 October 13, 2017
Program Fee Balance $4,300 October 13, 2017


There are a variety of scholarships available to help fund your study abroad experience. Visit the Global Opportunities page for more information and application deadlines.


To be eligible to study abroad, all program participants must attend an in-person pre-departure orientation facilitated by the Study Abroad office as well as your program-specific orientations, offered by your program director.

You must register for orientation through your online study abroad account in order to attend scheduled orientations. You can visit the Orientation section of our website to view the current orientation schedule.

Orientation must be completed prior to the enrollment deadline for the quarter that you are studying abroad.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most forms of financial aid can be applied to study abroad. You can verify that your financial aid award will apply to your program costs by contacting the Financial Aid Office. Financial aid or scholarships awarded as tuition waivers or tuition exemptions might not apply so you will need to verify that these funds are eligible for use with study abroad by contacting the funding office.

Financial aid and most scholarships are disbursed according to the UW academic calendar (at the beginning of the quarter). If your program starts before the start of the UW quarter, your financial aid will not be available to you prior to your departure. If your program starts after the first day of the quarter, your financial aid will be disbursed at the start of the program. In either of these cases, you will have to finance any upfront costs such as airfare, health insurance and the start of your time abroad on your own. Please take this into consideration when you are making plans.

Revision Request

In some instances you may qualify for an increase in your financial aid award (typically in loan funds). Check with the Financial Aid Office about your options. To request a revision in your aid, you will need to submit the following paperwork to the Financial Aid Office:

  1. Revision Request Form
  2. Budget of student expenses for your program: The UW Study Abroad Office will upload this budget to your study abroad account after a signed contract has been submitted to the UW Study Abroad Office. You can request an unofficial copy of this budget by emailing

Visit the Finances section of our website to learn more about disbursement, revising your aid package, short-term loans and scholarships.

Application Process

The application includes a Personal Statement, three short answer questions, one recommendation from a professor or TA, and electronic signature documents related to UW policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the on-line application process students may be contacted by the Program Director for an in-person interview. Once an admission decision has been made regarding your application, you will be notified by the study abroad system via email.


UW Study Abroad is not responsible for obtaining visas for study abroad program participants. The cost and requirements for obtaining visas vary. It is your responsibility to determine visa requirements for all countries you plan to visit while abroad including countries that you plan to visit before or after your study abroad program. You can do so by calling the consular offices of those countries or checking the following website:

Note: If you are not a U.S. citizen, consult the embassy or consulate of the countries you will visit to learn their document requirements. You can check the following website to find contact information for the consulate of the country you will be visiting:

For non-U.S. citizens, the procedures that you will need to follow may be different than those for U.S. citizens. It is important to initiate this process as soon as possible in order to assemble documents and allow time for lengthy procedures.

Disability Accommodations

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, and education for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation for this program, contact Disability Resources for Students at least 8 weeks in advance of your departure date. Contact info at


$350 of the total program fee and the $350 UW Study Abroad Fee are non-refundable and non-revocable once a contract has been submitted, even if you withdraw from the program. Students withdrawing from a program are responsible for paying a percentage of the program fee depending on the date of withdrawal. More details about the withdrawal policy are included in your payment contract. No part of the program fee is refundable once the program has begun. The date of withdrawal is considered the date (business day) a withdrawal form is received by the UW Study Abroad Office. Notice of withdrawal from the program must be made in writing by completing the following steps:

1. Provide notice in writing to the Program Director that you will no longer be participating in the program for which you have signed a contract and accepted a slot.

2. Submit a signed withdrawal form to the UW Study Abroad Office, 459 Schmitz Hall.

Visit the Withdrawals section of our website for more information.