Ecuador

Program Overview

ECUADOR: Amazon, Galápagos and Andes

Friday, May 15 to Monday, June 15, 2020 (4 weeks)

This is the 15th year of the University of Toronto’s summer program in Ecuador. This exciting program is a wonderful opportunity for students interested in life sciences, environmental studies, conservation biology, geology and geography to experience one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world and to explore the pressures and challenges on these unique environments.

The program is hosted by the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) and will use two of its research centres, the Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS) and the Tiputini Biodiversity Station (TBS; located in the Amazon Rainforest), as well as its Quito campus. USFQ has been collaborating with partner universities from around the world for many years, sharing their faculty’s expertise and research knowledge to run successful programs for local and foreign students.

Course

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
BR=3+4
Note: Students may not enrol in both the Ecuador program (ENV395Y0) and the Australia program (ENV396Y0) during the same summer.
ENV395Y Course Outline 2020

Itinerary & 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.

Instructors: 
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.

Program Details

Friday, May 15 to Monday, June 15, 2020 (4 weeks)

This is the 15th year of the University of Toronto’s summer program in Ecuador. This exciting program is a wonderful opportunity for students interested in life sciences, environmental studies, conservation biology, geology and geography to experience one of the most ecologically diverse countries in the world and to explore the pressures and challenges on these unique environments.

The program is hosted by the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) and will use two of its research centres, the Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences, (GAIAS) and the Tiputini Biodiversity Station (TBS; located in the Amazon Rainforest), as well as its Quito campus. USFQ has been collaborating with partner universities from around the world for many years, sharing their faculty’s expertise and research knowledge to run successful programs for local and foreign students.

Primeval Lands and Unique Wild Species

  • Ecuador is a relatively small country that contains stunning natural diversity: tropical rainforests snow-capped volcanoes, vast coastal beaches, the majestic Andes mountains and the incredible Galápagos Islands. Ecuador has 9.2 species per square kilometre, more than any other country on Earth.
  • The Andes is the world’s longest mountain range, forming a continuous chain of highland along the western coast of South America. Students will view first-hand paramo ecology and the impact of global warming on the glaciers, as well as the physiological, cultural and economic adaptations of indigenous mountain peoples.
  • Students will live, study and conduct biological fieldwork in the Amazon Rainforest on the north bank of the Tiputini River. The site borders the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, a region famous for having one of the highest species diversities on Earth. Researchers here have documented 12 species of primates, 520 species of birds, 1500 species of trees and thousands of insect species.
  • Made famous by Charles Darwin over 150 years ago, the Galápagos is a string of islands about 1000 kilometres west of mainland Ecuador. Formed by volcanic activity, the islands contain some of the most remarkable ecosystems on Earth. Birds, sea mammals, reptiles and a wide variety of tropical fishes and invertebrates abound in the Galápagos.

Program 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, followed by tours of other islands.
  • The program concludes in Quito.
    • Check out this fantastic video from an Ecuador Program participant to get a full sense of these activities.

Health and Safety

This program will involve fieldwork and extensive travel by air, water and land; in addition, Quito and the highlands are located at a relatively high altitude. Students will need to be prepared for extreme differences in temperature and precipitation. Students must be in excellent physical health and should not be especially prone to altitude, sea or motion sickness. If you are under medical care of any kind, you should consult both a physician and the Professional & International Programs office before applying. Students will be expected to respect the health and safety rules of each facility. Care must also be taken on independent travel in Quito, following the directives concerning risk provided by the Government of Canada.

NEW this year: All students will be required to demonstrate swimming proficiency prior to admission, as there are several activities that involve swimming, both in the Galápagos and the Amazon. Details about the swim test will be emailed to all applicants.

Accommodation and Meals

While in Quito and the Galápagos, students will stay in shared accommodation in economy hotels (2–4 per room). At TBS students will stay in bunk-style accommodation (4 beds per room). All rooms are screened. Running water is available and students share flush toilets and showers (cold water only). Food service is provided in a central dining hall and a generator provides electricity for several hours each day. There are food options available for vegetarians. Although networks can be unreliable, internet access is available in internet cafés in Quito, and limited access is available at GAIAS. Most daily meals will be provided as part of the program, with some purchased by students on-site.

Accommodation, Health, Climate Information Sheet
Accommodation Photos

Group flight

There will be group flight to Quito (via Panama) for students in the program. The round-trip economy class airfare with Copa Airlines is CAD$627 which includes taxes/fees of approximately $156. Note that flight taxes/fees (including fuel surcharges) are subject to change. Alternatively, students may make their own travel arrangements.

Departure date from Toronto: Friday May 15
Return date from Quito: Monday, June 15

Transportation between the airport and the hotel in Quito will be provided to students on the group flight.

Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO)

All students admitted to the Summer Abroad program are required to successfully complete an online PDO, which will provide general information and advice on international health and safety issues. Students must also attend the in-person Ecuador Pre-departure Orientation on April 13 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Entry requirements

All students are responsible for making sure that their necessary travel documents are in order. Information on entry requirements is available from the Consulate of Ecuador in Toronto:
www.embassyecuador.ca

As of the time of publication (December 2019), Canadian citizens only need a passport valid for six months beyond their return date to enter Ecuador as a visitor. Citizens of other countries may have additional requirements.

Students will be required to see a Medical Travel Clinic and to obtain the vaccine for Yellow Fever. Proof of vaccination will be required well in advance of the program start date.

Costs

The deadlines for fees payable to the University of Toronto are as follows:

  • Application fee: due February 3, 2020
  • Non-Refundable Deposit of $1,000 due one week after admission notification
  • All remaining fee: due March 26, 2020

Cost of Studying in Ecuador

Amount Details
Application Fee $200 Paid at time of application
Course Fee
Domestic Students $2,010 Includes $1,000 deposit
International Students $3,165 Includes $1,000 deposit
U of T Incidental Fees $180 Estimate based on 2019 part-time summer fees
Field Trip Fees $4,850 Includes all transportation and entrance fees for the duration of the program
Airfare $627 Group flight arranged by U of T
Accommodation and Meals $2,640 Includes all accommodation and most meals during the program
Meals (those not prepaid through UofT) $150 Estimate – paid on site
Tips $110 Students should budget $110 for tips – paid on site
Vaccines variable Students must provide proof of Yellow Fever vaccine
Medical Travel Insurance variable Students must provide proof of medical travel insurance
Miscellaneous Expenses variable All students should budget for miscellaneous expense (e.g. travel, gifts, etc.)
Approximate TOTAL Program Cost INCLUDING field trips
Domestic Students $10,767 This figure does not include mandatory medical travel insurance
International Students $11,922 This figure does not include mandatory medical travel insurance

Financial Assistance

The following assistance is available for eligible students in this program. For additional awards and further details please see the Financial Aid section of the Summer Abroad website.

• Summer Abroad Bursary (six awards at $4000 each)

Information Session

A detailed information session for the summer program in Ecuador will be held on the UofT St. George campus in January. This session provides an excellent opportunity to hear from the instructor and previous participants, see photos, and ask any questions that you may have.

Date: Wednesday, January 15th, 2020
Time: 3:00 to 5:00 pm
Location: Woodsworth College Residence, Waters Lounge, 321 Bloor St. West (SE corner of St. George and Bloor)

Map to 321 Bloor Street

Map

See information session listings for all UofT programs and campuses.

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