Previous college-level coursework and/or other preparation in environmental studies, ecology, biology, or related fields, as assessed by SIT. (Please be aware that this is a field-based program. See “A focus on science and field research” under the “Key Features” section for further details.) Four recent semesters of college-level Spanish or equivalent and the ability to follow coursework in Spanish, as assessed by SIT, are also required.
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Through this ecology program, students learn about the diverse ecological zones of Ecuador, major plant and animal adaptations to life in each zone, local use of natural resources, and current environmental and conservation issues. Students are also introduced to a panorama of Ecuadorian life and culture. During the Environmental Research Methods and Ethics course, students practice and apply ecological and biological field techniques and learn how to integrate these into their own research during the Independent Study Project (ISP). Throughout the program, students improve and apply their Spanish skills to broaden their understanding of Ecuadorian ecology and conservation and to gain a deeper understanding of the country.
The following syllabi are either from a recent session of this program or for an upcoming session. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.
The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
Comparative Tropical Ecology – syllabus
(ENVI 3005 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Through a comparative approach, students explore the ecology of each of Ecuador’s four distinct ecological regions: the Andes, the coast, the Amazon, and the Galápagos Islands. In each area, students analyze major plant and animal adaptations, the uses of natural resources, and current environmental issues. During field trips, students apply biological and ecological techniques such as quadrants and transects, engage in biological monitoring for plants and animals, and learn to conduct population studies, water and soils analysis, and other techniques. As part of the course, students visit several sites, including Galápagos National Park, Santa Lucia Cloud Forest Reserve, Yunguilla Community, and La Hesperia Reserve. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.
Conservation and Sustainability Practices in Ecuador – syllabus
(ENVI 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This course focuses on the analysis of major science-related environmental issues that currently threaten Ecuadorian ecosystems. It provides a multifaceted and interdisciplinary exploration of Ecuadorian conservation and sustainability issues. The course examines contemporary conservation science strategies that have been implemented in order to protect the country's natural resources and discusses their effectiveness and viability.
Through the exploration of Ecuadorian conservation and sustainability issues, the course enables students to build an individual framework that facilitates their conceptualization of contemporary environmental issues related to conservation and, as a result, the impact on local resources.
The course is conducted mainly in Spanish and encompasses fieldwork activities applying robust science research methods.
Spanish for the Natural Sciences I – syllabus
(SPAN 2000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Spanish for the Natural Sciences II – syllabus
(SPAN 2500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Spanish for the Natural Sciences III – syllabus
(SPAN 3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Spanish for the Natural Sciences IV – syllabus
(SPAN 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
In this course, students hone their speaking, reading, and writing skills through classroom and field instruction. They practice reading professional scientific literature as they learn the formal terms and local expressions needed to discuss environmental and conservation issues, to conduct field research, and to interact in institutional and community settings related to the program themes. Students are placed in small classes based on an in-country evaluation that tests both written and oral proficiency.
Environmental Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ENVI 3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
In this research methods course designed to prepare students for the Independent Study Project, students learn how to organize and conduct a research project. Through lectures, readings, and field activities, students analyze and practice a range of methods appropriate for ecological research including quadrants and transects; biotic sampling; fauna and flora identification; animal behavior; and soil, water, and climate investigation. Students also examine the ethical issues surrounding field research related to ecology and are guided through the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review process, which forms a core component of the course. By the end of the course, students will have chosen a research topic, selected appropriate methods, and written a solid proposal for an Independent Study Project related to the program’s focus on ecology. All coursework is conducted in Spanish.
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR 3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted in approved locations around Ecuador, the Independent Study Project offers students the opportunity to conduct field research on a topic of their choice within the program’s thematic parameters. The project integrates learning from the various components of the program and culminates in a final presentation and formal research paper. While the ISP can include social science concepts, the main focus should be biological, ecological, and/or environmental, based upon requests from local NGOs, nature reserves, and local communities. Sample topic areas: flora or fauna monitoring for conservation purposes; biodiversity studies and population assessments; environmentally friendly agriculture; soil or water studies; geology related to ecology and conservation; community conservation projects; protected area management; impact of development on local communities.
Browse this program's Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.