Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation
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One of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet, Ecuador - and its four distinct ecosystems - provides an ideal setting for learning about ecology from a comparative context. Within this small country's borders, the Amazon Basin, the Andes, and the Pacific Ocean all collide to provide unique climatic niches that harbor ecological treasures and a plethora of endemic flora and fauna. Ecuador is home to two biological hotspots - the tropical Andes and Chocó - known for their mega-diversity and rapid loss of habitat. Given the simultaneous ecological importance and threat to survival existent in Ecuador, SIT's Comparative Ecology and Conservation program aims to synthesize the study of ecosystem dynamics with conservation strategies.
Commitment to reciprocity and sustainability
Deeply committed to social and environmental justice, the program strives to integrate the practice of reciprocity and sustainability. For example, through biosequestration activities, the program aims to offset each semester’s emissions for program carbon neutrality. Additionally, mingas (service activities) and policies serve to make reciprocity an integral part of the curriculum and program management.
Students are based in Quito, where they live with a host family, attend classes, do field activities, and undertake excursions. Students receive lectures from local professionals in the fields of ecology, conservation, biology, economics, history, politics, and law. Majestic mountains surround Quito, where Quiteños say they are living in "la cara de Dios," the face of God. UNESCO named Quito's elegant colonial center a world cultural heritage site in 1978.
Spanish language class and city excursions
Students practice and enhance their language skills learned in the classroom during educational excursions to various locations in and around Quito. Excursions around the city typically include art and history museums and the Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World, i.e., the equatorial line). Experienced teaching staff and homestays combine to maximize students’ language learning opportunities.
Independent Study Project
Students spend the last four weeks of the program focused on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursing original research on a selected topic of interest to them. The ISP can be conducted throughout Ecuador based upon requests from local activists, NGOs, and communities.
Sample topic areas for the ISP include:
- Mining or petroleum industry environmental implications and/or alternatives
- Impact of tourism on local communities
- Environmental education
- Flora or fauna census
- Biodiversity and population assessments
- Endangered specifies and conservation efforts
- Environmental movements
- Traditional agriculture
- Shrimp farming and mangrove conservation
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Quito
Language Study: Spanish
Prerequisites: Coursework in environmental studies, ecology, biology, or related fields; 4 semesters college-level Spanish. Read more...
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