- Conservation issues and solutions in Galápagos
- The theory, study, and teaching of evolution
- Island biogeography
- Inquiry-driven learning
- Participatory education
- Community-based conservation
Visit the realm of giant tortoises; study the forces of evolutionary, geologic, and social change; contribute to sustainable solutions for this astounding archipelago.
The Galápagos Islands are a spectacular natural treasure and one of the best places on Earth to appreciate change. To biologists, a trip to the Galápagos is something of a pilgrimage to sacred evolutionary ground, for it is here in 1835 that Charles Darwin witnessed how giant tortoises, finches, and other taxa each varied from island to island across the archipelago, observations that, among many others, shaped Darwin’s ideas on evolution. Darwin upturned the prevailing view of life by pointing out–with an uncommon amount of evidence, logic, and persistence—that individuals within the same species vary from one another, that some of these differences are inherited, and that from the differential success of these inherited variations, over time, emerge new races and species.
The Galápagos islands are also the product of geologic change. A hotspot deep below the Pacific Ocean fuels the creation of new Galápagos islands, while the oldest islands, succumbing to the forces of erosion and subsidence as they move eastward on a tectonic plate, submerge and become underwater seamounts. This cycle of island birth and death changes the member set of islands within the Galápagos archipelago, and so alters the landscape for evolution. Some Galápagos species alive today may have evolutionary histories on islands that have long ago sunk beneath the waves.
However, the most powerful changes impacting the immediate future of the Galápagos are of human origin. People are an increasing source of habitat destruction, overexploitation, and introduced species, but they are also the source of heroic efforts to save the Galápagos, and the work of government agencies, researchers, NGOs, educators, and other informed citizens provide some measure of hope.
For this course, we will be working with Ecology Project International (EPI), who have been champions for inquiry-driven field science and sustainability for many years, and who have made tremendous progress working with the Galápagos National Parks Service and others on ecological education. This course was created in partnership with the Houston Zoo and furthers a continuing commitment to conservation in the Galápagos. As part of this collaboration, the Houston Zoo, EPI, and Miami University have supported the work of Global Conservation Fellows from Ecuador in their master’s degree work with the Global Field Program.
Students in this course should be prepared to explore the forces of change in the Galápagos and contribute directly to sustainable solutions to current issues. The course takes place primarily on Isla Santa Cruz with a few days spent on Isabela Island.
Prior to and following the field experience in the Galápagos, students will complete coursework via Dragonfly Workshops’ web-based learning community as they apply experiences to their home institutions.
|In-person travel dates:||
Galápagos I: July 8 - 18, 2023
Galápagos II: July 22 - August 1, 2023
|On the Web:||Pre-travel preparations prior to May 15, 2023
Summer course: May 16-August 11, 2023
Fall course: Late August- early December, 2023
|Credits:||Summer course: 5 graduate credits
Follow-on Fall course: 2 graduate credits
All Miami University credits can be applied to the GFP or AIP (or other programs if approved)
|Costs:||Summer course: $3,225* + your own airfare to Baltra/Santa Cruz + $1,000 additional transportation fee
Fall course: $790
|* $3225 calculated as = $395 per credit tuition X 5 graduate credits + $1075 program fee + $175 Miami global fee|
The second largest of the Galápagos islands, Santa Cruz’s ecosystems include lush, high-elevation forests with lumbering giant tortoises; arid scrubland with tree-sized opuntia cactus; the dark tubular habitats of the island’s lava tubes; rocky intertidal zones dotted with marine iguanas; and turquoise seascapes patrolled by pelican squads. Isla Santa Cruz is also home to the most sizable human population in Galápagos archipelago, making it the best place to study human impacts and conservation solutions.
This tropical town lies on the southern shore of Isla Santa Cruz and is the island’s economic and cultural center. Puerto Ayora is a relaxed, open, and sunny place where you can encounter sea lions on the docks or be visited by some of “Darwin’s” finches while you eat breakfast at an outdoor café. Important locations in town include the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galápagos headquarters of Ecology Project International.
Isabela Island is the largest of the archipelago and one of the youngest geologically. Isabela is home to many plant and animal species amidst its active volcanoes. Notable species on the island include Darwin’s finches, fur seals, flightless cormorants, and the well-known Galápagos penguins endemic to Galápagos.
In addition to covering the price for five graduate credits of Miami University tuition, field course costs cover all basic expenses, including:
Course costs do not cover personal expenses, such as airfare to the course, personal gifts, or ancillary costs, such as passport fees, country entry fees, required course readers, and any additional course texts.
Airfare: To estimate fares applicants may wish to visit an online fare finder or call a travel agent. Bear in mind that airlines have seasonal fluctuations in fares.
Miami University also requires all international workshop participants to purchase travel health insurance for about $40. (Successful applicants will receive more details in their web-based learning community course workshop.) In some classes an additional textbook is required. In some countries, you may have to pay entrance and departure taxes/fees at the airport.
Please note the current fee for entry onto the Galápagos Islands is $100 and is subject to change.
Because of support from Miami University, the course costs listed above are a fraction of actual program costs. Earth Expeditions recommends that accepted applicants to the program check with their school district or employer to see if professional development funds are available to further offset costs.
Are you a current Miami University undergrad or grad student interested in participating? Check out our Miami Students page to learn more about program requirements.
*Note that costs shown above are for graduate students only. Course costs for undergraduate students are based on each student’s tuition rate. If you have questions regarding your tuition promise rate, please contact the Bursar.