Program Dates: Saturday, May 20 to Thursday, June 22, 2017 (4 weeks)
This is the 12th 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 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.
Recommended preparation: ENV200H1 or equivalent, BIO120H1 or equivalent
This is a Social Science course; BR=3+4.
ENV395Y0 – Preliminary Course Outline
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 five days of lectures and field trips based at the GAIAS institute on San Cristobal, followed by a five-day island-hopping tour of other islands. The program concludes in Quito.
Professor Monika Havelka is a Senior Lecturer in the Environment Programs, Department of Geography, University of Toronto Mississauga. She completed her undergraduate degree at McMaster University and her MSc and PhD in Zoology at the University of Western Ontario studying the evolution of life history patterns in small mammals. She has taught a wide variety of courses in evolutionary biology, ecology and environmental science, and was a finalist in the 2009 TVO Best Lecturer Competition. A big fan of experiential learning, she has taught field courses in Ontario and in the Arctic, as well as supervising many student research projects on the spatial ecology of small mammals in fragmented landscapes.
Professor Barbara Murck is a Senior Lecturer in the Environment Programs, 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. Professor 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.
A detailed information session for the summer program in Ecuador will be held on the UofT St. George campus in February. 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: Tuesday, January 24, 2017 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm
Location: Woodsworth College Residence, Waters Lounge, 321 Bloor St. West (SE corner of St. George and Bloor)
Map to 321 Bloor Street
Saturday, May 20 to Thursday, June 22, 2017 (4 weeks)
This is the 12th 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, and the Tiputini Biodiversity Station (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, snowcapped 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 iis the world’s longest mountain range, forming a continuous chain of highland along the western coast of South America. Students will view first-hand páramo 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 km west of mainland Ecuador. Formed by volcanic activity, the islands contain some of the most remarkable ecosystems on Earth. Birds, sea mammals, reptiles, as well as a wide variety of tropical fishes and invertebrates abound in the Galápagos.
- 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 seven 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.
- During the second half of the course students will visit 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 time will include four days of lectures and field trips based at the GAIAS Institute on San Cristobal, followed by a five-day island-hopping tour of other islands.
- The program concludes in Quito.
- Check out this fantastic video from a 2013 Ecuador Program participant to get a full sense of these activities.
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.
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. Unfortunately vegans cannot be accommodated in this course. There are food options for vegetarians who are not vegan.
There will be group flight to Quito (via Panama) for students in the program. The round-trip economy class airfare with Air Copa is CAD$1281 which includes taxes/fees of approximately $184. Note that flight taxes/fees (including fuel surcharges) are subject to change. Alternatively, students may make their own travel arrangements.
Departure date from Toronto: Saturday May 20
Return date from Siena: Thursday, June 22
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 24 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
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:
As of the time of publication (December 2016), 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.
The deadlines for fees payable to the University of Toronto are as follows:
- Application fee: due February 13, 2017
- Non-Refundable Deposit of $1,000 due two weeks after admission notification
- All remaining fee: due March 31, 2017
Cost of Studying in Ecuador
|Application Fee||$200||Paid at time of application|
|Domestic Students||$2,005||Includes $1,000 deposit|
|International Students||$3,160||Includes $1,000 deposit|
|U of T Incidental Fees||$170||Estimate based on 2016 part-time summer fees|
|Field Trip Fees||$4,310||Includes all transportation and entrance fees for the duration of the program|
|Airfare||$1,281||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||$10,866||This figure does not include mandatory medical travel insurance|
|International Students||$12,021||This figure does not include mandatory medical travel insurance|
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)