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UGalapagos Fall Courses

Through an academic partnership with the Isabela Oceanographic Institute, located in the small community of Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island in the Gal├ípagos, the University of Miami will offer a full semester of courses (17 credits) in Fall, based in the Biology Department.  The courses will be taught sequentially over the term, and students will reside with families on the island. The courses we expect to offer include:

ECS 272/APY 405/INS 321 (WRI), Meltzoff Political Ecology in the Galápagos, 3 credits
This course reviews the historical development and contemporary issues of Latin America through the cultural, political and social lens of the Galapagos.  It places the Galapagos within the wider Ecuadoran and Latin American context, exploring phenomena such as dependent development and the environment, multiculturalism, social inequality, and center-periphery political dissonance.  You will meet descendents of historical figures and interact with locals from multiple walks of life.

Bil 525 (HON, WRI), Tosney Herpetology in the Galápagos, 3 credits
The Galápagos Islands are a perfect place to study natural selection and its living products.  In these desert islands, unique species and the demanding environmental pressures that drive natural selection are more visible and accessible than they are in more lush and complex environments.   The selection pressures will be studied in lectures and intensive field work, with a focus on the lives and adaptations of the charismatic reptiles of the Galapagos.

BIL 335/ECS 380 (WRI), Janos Ecology and Land Use in the Galápagos, 3 credits
This course will briefly examine how fundamental principles of ecology are manifested on Isla Isabela, the largest of the Galápagos Islands.  These principles will then be employed to evaluate land usages including subsistence and production agriculture, animal husbandry, fuel wood and timber, and conservation with ecotourism.  Course participants will be acquainted with habitats, flora, and fauna from the vicinity of Puerto Villamil to the rim of Volcán Sierra Negra, and will analyze agricultural practices and problems of the mist zone on this volcano’s southeastern flank.

Bil 330, Horvitz Ecology, 3 credits
This course will study organisms in relation to their environment, with a focus on interactive hands-on learning experiences that connect empirical nature with abstract thinking.   Lectures, discussion and field work will help students begin to understand ecosystem ecology, how plants disperse and colonize, how plants cope with spatial and temporal variability in their environments and how plants and animals interact as well as origins and effects of invasive species and actions of bio-control agents.

BIL 385/INS 522/APY 398/ECS 372, Besserer Science and Politics in International Conservation and Development 3 credits
You will learn about the intersection between economic development, science and conservation in one of the world’s most pristine and fragile ecosystems.  You will explore how tourism offers an alternative unsustainable fisheries that once drove the local economy, yet has created a new set of pressures on the people and the environment and what efforts towards mitigation of these new pressures are being done.  You will put into context how science and international conservation efforts depend on an understanding of local politics, customs and cultures.

BIL 495, Meltzoff, Besserer Community Outreach (Independent study) 2 credits
Throughout the term, you will engage in civic activities identified in consultation with the people, government and public health facilities of the small, rural village of Villamil, the sole habitation on Isla Isabela.


Satisfies your degree requirements  All courses are cross-listed to maximize their usefulness for you. The term offers three courses with writing credit (WRI) and an Honors (HON) course.  Direct questions to Dr. Kathryn Tosney, Chair of Biology 

Biology majors meet these requirements:
          BIL 330 (Ecology core requirement)
          Three BIL lab/field courses
          Biology Elective (Herpetology, BIL 525)
          Biology Elective (Ecology and Land Use in the Galapagos, BIL 335)
          BIL elective, Community Outreach (BIL 495, 2 credits)
          Social Science General Ed (Galapagos Political Ecology)
          HON and three WRI courses
          ...for a total of 17 life-changing credit hours