The University of Toronto will offer one course in Ecuador, worth one full-year credit. The course has limited space and is contingent on adequate enrolment. Students will be in classes or on field trips every day, including weekends, except for travel days and some free time during the program. Where possible, students will be involved in group research projects.

ENV395Y0 Special Topics Field Course: Ecology and Conservation in the Amazon, Galápagos and Andes

This course examines fundamental concepts in ecology, evolution, biodiversity, geology and conservation biology through lectures and fieldwork in highland, tropical and island ecosystems in Ecuador. The complex relations between these environments and the people who depend on them will also be examined through analysis of the social, cultural and economic transformations that have taken place in recent years. Suitable for all programs offered by the School of the Environment.


Prerequisites: none
Recommended preparation: ENV200H1 or equivalent, BIO120H1 or equivalent
Note: Students may not enrol in both the Ecuador program (ENV395Y0) and the Australia program (ENV396Y0) during the same summer.
ENV395Y Course Outline 2020

Program Itinerary and Activities

• Students begin in Quito with orientations and introductory lectures, including visits to old Quito and Mitad del Mundo (the Equator).
• They will then spend several days in the Andes highlands studying its unique flora and fauna and examining the economy and culture of the indigenous mountain peoples.
• The next course segment consists of eight days at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station, situated along one of the headwaters of the Amazon River in one of the few remaining pristine rainforests in Ecuador. Here students will focus on tropical forest ecology and the impacts of oil exploration on wildlife and indigenous peoples.
• For the second half of the course students will be in the Galápagos, a chain of active volcanic islands that has played a crucial role in the history of science, examining how plants, animals and people interact in this fragile and threatened environment. This will include lectures and field trips based at GAIAS on San Cristobal, as well as tour of other islands. The program concludes in Quito.


Professor Barbara Murck is Professor, Teaching Stream, at the Department of Geography, University of Toronto Mississauga. A geologist by training, she completed her undergraduate degree at Princeton University and her graduate degree at the University of Toronto.  Prof. Murck is the author of many textbooks on geology and environmental science.  She is an award-winning lecturer, and was the recipient of the President’s Teaching Award in 2010.  Prof. Murck has been involved with many international development projects in environmental management, from Niger, Ivory Coast, and Sudan to China, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

Christoph Richter is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Department of Biology at University of Toronto Mississauga. Working on a M.Sc. at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and a PhD at Otago University in New Zealand, his research focused on the influence of human activities on the behaviour of cetaceans. Currently, he is involved in research on the ecological impact of invasive species around Mississauga and on the Galápagos Islands, on the impact and prevalence of transformative learning, and on relationship between stress and incidences of plagiarism . He has taught field courses in the Bay of Fundy, Gulf of Maine, and Ecuador, and has been a study leader on cruises to the Arctic, Haida Gwaii and the Antarctic.