Over “wintermester“, four faculty and sixteen students were involved in a two-week study abroad to Ecuador.
The purpose of the course was to expose students to Ecuador’s diverse ecosystems and examine the connection between culture, agriculture, and the environment. Excursions included the Galapagos Islands, Tiputini Biodiversity Station deep in the heart of the amazon Rainforest, and visits to indigenous cultures in the Andes Mountains.
What makes this study abroad so unique is the diversity of the places that we visited and working with University of San Francisco (Quito) faculty that gave lectures on topics such as plastics pollution of marine environments and the history of Ecuador. Students had the opportunity to snorkel with sea turtles, marine iguanas, and sea lions in the Galapagos, observe the incredible biodiversity of the Amazon at the top of a canopy tower, and examine indigenous cultures and agriculture in the Andes mountains.
In each region students were able to observe how population growth, resource extraction, climate change, and tourism are degrading the environment and the natural resources that people depend upon.
“It was a life-changing experience that let me discover a completely new culture and climate that I have always wanted to see,” said Rebecca Jones, a senior majoring in environmental science.
“It was incredibly fun, but also forced me to face my fears and open my eyes to the world around me,” said Carrie Ortel, a junior majoring in crop and soil environmental sciences.