cathedral of the Immaculate Conception aerial view Cuenca Ecuador

Study Abroad in Ecuador

Explore various environmental challenges of today and tomorrow through an integrated lens of science and humanities in place-based courses. 

This Global Environmental Challenges program explores various environmental challenges of today and tomorrow through an integrated lens of science and humanities in place-based courses. The semester-long program is a collaboration with Rhodes and Sewanee which will spend twelve weeks in the highlands of Cuenca, followed by a three-week module at a biodiversity station in the Amazon and in the Galápagos Islands. 

Students who participate in the program will be able to:

  • Recognize and analyze complex environmental challenges and local responses from the perspective of diverse stakeholders, particularly considering Latin America v. the U.S. 
  • Consider multiple definitions of sustainability within a specific local and national context
  •  Grow in empathy and in linguistic and cultural competency through sustained engagement with local communities
  • Learn, apply, and/or evaluate natural and social science field methodologies in local contexts

Students will depart from the United States to Quito, Ecuador in early September and return for the United States at the program end in late December.

Courses And Cost

The Fall 2024 program will be directed by Centre College professor, Dr. Genny Ballard.

Students will take a full course load on the Global Environmental Challenges program.
Students will enroll in three courses in Cuenca over a span of 12 weeks; the fourth
course, Environment, Conservation, and Policy Issues in Ecuador, will be taught as a
three-week module in the Amazon river basin and the Galapagos. There is no Spanish
requirement to enroll in the program; however, all students will be required to take a
Spanish language course at their level. The following are the proposed courses for the
program, pending final faculty approval:

  • ENS: Environment, Conservation, and Policy Issues in Ecuador (all
    students take this course)
    • This course introduces students to the most influential factors shaping the ecosystems and their conservation, looking at the global, regional and local factors that determine the climates and the contrasting ecosystems that can be found in Ecuador. The course includes several field visits to the Ecuadorian Amazon (Tiputini Biodiversity Station) and the Galapagos Islands. Thus, allowing students to experience first-hand current topics of conservation and policy issues, while discussing the main environmental challenges associated with the conservation of natural ecosystems in
      tropical developing countries.
  • ENS: Environmental Challenges: Linking the Global to the Local
    • This course examines local environmental challenges in Cuenca, Ecuador, and explores connections to the broader global context. Emphasis will be placed on learning about the ways and beliefs of local cultures and understanding the difficulties in maintaining cultural identity in today’s environmental economic climate. This course will focus on rural communities, sustainability, food systems, and agriculture.
    • Experiential learning will be a significant element of the course, and students will visit local communities and NGOs so that students can learn from those who are most affected by these issues.
  • Latin American Studies: Human Relationships with the Environment in
    Latin America
    • Latin America is home to some of the world’s most famous landscapes from Amazonian forests that metabolize carbon to Andean peaks where melting glaciers portray the devastating effect of climate change. From colonial-era silver mines to vast monocrop palm oil, sugarcane, and banana plantations, Latin American natural resources have played a central role in the development of economies, cultures, and societies in the region and around the world. This course will survey changing human relationships with the natural world in Latin America from the pre-Columbian period; through colonization and the colonial era; through the independence struggles of the nineteenth century; to contested visions of nationalism, economic development, and use of natural resources in the twentieth century; on down to the environmental questions that the region faces today. We will examine both how different peoples have understood, lived with, used, and transformed the environment as well as how the natural world has shaped human histories. We will draw on readings from multiple disciplinary perspectives (including history, anthropology, the humanities and geography) to analyze processes of imperialism, development, global climate change, and the degradation of natural resources. Texts and learning materials include: indigenous environmental perspectives, ethnographies, an environmental justice documentary, a climate fiction novel, environmental activist essays, films, short stories, and poetry that portray: nature, the environment, natural disasters, climate change, and environmental activism. We will also have local guest lecturers and artists as visitors to this class.
  • SPA 100-300: Options include two levels of beginner, two levels of intermediate,
    two levels of advanced grammar, and two advanced content courses.

Estimated cost: the same as studying in Danville, plus a $375 deposit (surcharge/emergency fund/carbon offset), and a $25 travel medicine fee for a total of $400. Flights to the abroad site are also the responsibility of the student.

Students will stay with local host families while in Cuenca and the Galapagos. Students stay on-site at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in dorm-style rooms. The program provides 20 meals per week for students.