UGalapagos Fall 2014 Info Session

January 28, 2014 — February 11, 2014 @ 3:25 PM

Please come to our UGalapagos Fall 2014 information session, February 11th, 3:30 to 4:00, in Cox 217 to hear faculty and previous students tell you about this remarkable program.  The session will prepare you for our application deadline, March 1.

UGalapagos is a unique study-abroad program that couples small, intensive courses with a deep immersion in a foreign culture.  It surpasses programs offered by others that are usually confined to cruise ships with only episodic contact with island flora, fauna and people.  In UGalapagos, you live with local families and engage in community service activities defined by the community.  The immersion in a foreign culture is unusually deep and effective, since the first course in each term is taught by an anthropologist who studies the Galapagoan people.  She rigorously places you in the Galapagoan cultural, political and social context. You learn about and interact with farmers, fishers, shopkeepers, pioneering residents of the islands and their descendants.  You then experience three intensive courses in sequence about the reptiles, ecology and birds of the Galapagos, culminated by “Conservation in Practice,” a course that puts everything you’ve learned in perspective.

The UGalapagos program takes place in a unique environment, the Galapagos islands, where the flora, fauna and people are emblematic of biological and social processes that act universally, but are most evident in this harsh environment that has molded living beings.  The people are subject to third-world pressures and politics and the demands of an environment that has limited resources, most of which need to be imported.  The islands’ severe natural selection pressures have produced emblematic species that are both intriguing and accessible.  The reptiles and birds ignore humans:  You can stand within six feet of them (no closer due to Park rules!) and watch as they live their lives, feeding, mating, raising their young.  You can easily discriminate and study ecosystems, from a mangrove fringe to a low arid zone of desert-like plants an intermediate zone of arid forests and at higher elevations humid zones of Tropical grasslands and forests.  This accessibility enhances learning, so that lectures merge directly into field work and back to analysis, assessment and writing.  The Galapagos is an open laboratory for inquiry-based study and critical thinking.

UGalapagos offers a full term of courses (18 credits) that are taught sequentially.  It is centered in the Isabela Oceanographic Institute on Isla Isabela, the largest Galapagos island, in the small community (2500 people) of Puerto Villamil.  Spring terms focus on the marine environment; Fall terms focus on terrestrial ecosystems; Offerings in the two summer terms vary from year to year.  The classes, while demanding, leave students time for socializing, surfing and snorkeling with seals, marine iguanas, diving birds and penguins.

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, Civic Engagement in the Galapagos (BIL 483, 3 credits)
* Social Science General Ed (Galapagos Political Ecology)
* HON and three WRI courses
* ...for a total of 18 life-changing credit hours

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