Ecology of the Galapàgos Islands

Galapagos Islands

 May 29 - June 26, 2019

Photo: arrival at Isla Santa Fe for a day exploring the sea lions, iguanas and mockingbirds. 

Program Highlights

Embark on a biological expedition to Ecuador, follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, and explore the Galapagos Islands- one of the world's most unique and historic ecosystems.

All students are required to enroll in Biology 373. These credits (4) will be applicable to the CSB/SJU Biology major upper division requirement (five upper division lab classes). This course also has the EL flag (experiential learning). This course can also be applied to upper division requirements for the Environmental Studies and Secondary Science Education majors. During the program, there will be some traditional lecturing and testing but most class work will be carried out in the field setting. Students will write a scientific paper based on field research and keep a journal of their experiences throughout the program.

Photo: Visit to the Charles Darwin Research Center, Isla Santa Cruz.

Course & Program Information 

Course Name: Ecology and Evolution of the Galapagos Islands

Course Number: Biology 348/373G

Credit Number: 4 credits

Designation: Experiential Learning (EL) & BIOL Major Elective Credit

Prerequisite: Biology 101, 201 and 202 or permission from instructor.

Upon our arrival in Quito, we will familiarize ourselves with the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) campus. An orientation and welcome lunch will welcome us to the country of Ecuador. The Galapagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS), a department of USFQ, develops our trip in terms to our specifications. During our stay near Quito, our accommodations are at Casa del Quinde, a welcoming and homey hostel in between Quito and the suburb of Cumbaya (location of USFQ).

Photo: Milton Hernandez, Panzon and Champi welcome students back to the hostel.

Galapagos Islands

After flying the 600 miles from Quito to the islands, we will spend our time visiting 3-5 islands. Our studies/projects will focus on sea lion behavior, blue-footed booby ecology, intertidal ecosystems, geology and island hot spots, tortoise ecology and conservation, sea turtle ecology and conservation, among others. Opportunities abound and will include: snorkeling with sea lions, sea turtles, hiking with land tortoises, and many others. Class work will include traditional lectures, an independent, multi-day research study completed by each student, and field exploration related to topics introduced in the classroom. Writing assignments will include maintaining a daily field journal and producing at least one scientifically-structured paper based on your independent research.

Photo: Mockingbirds engaging in social hierarchy development, Isla Espanola.

Photo: Students assisting on a bird-netting project, Isla San Cristóbal.

Program Cost & Financial Considerations

The estimated program fee is $7,640.  Additionally, students will pay the cost of the required 4 CSB/SJU credits at the reduced summer tuition rate ($614 per credit= $2,456). 

The program fee includes:

  • Housing while the program is in session.
  • Internal Flights & Local Transportation for program activities
  • Breakfasts and evening meals while on the islands and in Quito
  • Program-related excursions & entrance fees to museums & cultural attractions
  • CISI Medical & Evacuation Insurance

The program fee does not include:

  • Roundtrip airfare
  • Most Dinner meal expenses 
  • Personal expenses 
  • Non-program travel or housing

The Short-Term Abroad Financing Brochure includes estimates for the items not included in the program fee, along with information regarding scholarships for study abroad.  


Students will stay in cabins with electricity, running water, toliets, and beds. The cabins will be screened to prevent bug entry. 

All accommodations will be at comfortable and clean hostels and hotels. Typically, the programs stay at Casa del Quinde when in Quito, Casa de Nelly when on the island of San Cristóbal, Hotel Fernandina when on the island of Santa Cruz, and Hotel San Vicente when on the island of Isabela.  

Program Director Information

Dr. Kristina Timmerman of the Biology Department has led this program for several years, in addition to leading short-term programs to the Caribbean during spring break and the India semester program. 

Photo: One of the many curious creatures of the islands! Come join us for 2019!