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Study Abroad


Discovering the Origins of Evolutionary Thought: Charles Darwin, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands

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This course is now accepting applications for the Winter 2014 term.

UMAIE Course Number: T4209
SAU Course Equivalency: BIOL 108, Principles of Evolutionary Change (four credits)
Instructor: Cynthia Norton and Amy Hiden, St. Catherine University
Dates: January 4-27, 2014. (NOTE: SAU classes begin January 15)
Location: Quito and Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Price: $6,975 (subject to change)

Program description

Charles Darwin was one of the most revolutionary thinkers of his time, and his work forever changed the way we think about the world. This course aims to familiarize students with Darwin and his work by examining his thought processes, reading what he read, visiting sites which were instrumental in the formulation of his theory, and gaining hands-on experience with the theory and practice of evolutionary biology and natural history.

We begin the course in Quito, where we will explore the rich cultural, artistic, political and religious history of this area through walking tours of the city, visits to religious sites, and museums. We will also read about and discuss pre-Darwinian natural philosophical thought and world views - including selections from William Paley, Thomas Malthus, and other scholars whose work Darwin read. In addition, we will examine scientific thought and methodology, specifically addressing the nature of scientific reasoning and its historical development from natural philosophy.

Upon leaving Quito, we will visit Inti Nan (the equator museum), the Mindo Nambillo Cloud Forest, the Cotopaxi Volcano (a young active volcano) and surrounding glaciers, and the Amazon basin. We then travel to Guayaquil, for departure to the Galapagos Islands, where we will study how the islands played a part in Darwin's ideas, and will also learn about current work there which adds to our understanding of evolutionary processes. Throughout the course, we will study not only the scientific evidence that Darwin so meticulously provided to support his theory of evolution by natural selection, but will also look at modern biological techniques and discoveries that support his work. In this process, students will gain hands-on experience in the field, learning for themselves the power of the scientific method.

What is included

  • Round-trip airfare from Moline, Chicago or Minneapolis 
  • Hotel accommodation in double and triple rooms
  • Continental breakfast (subject to change)
  • Travel assistance
  • International health insurance


    What is not included

    • Passport fees
    • Transportation to/from airport
    • Fees for textbooks and materials
    • Meals not included in program fee
    • Personal baggage fees


      How to apply

      Priority Deadline: April 12, 2013
      Complete the online study abroad application and submit a $500 application deposit to the Center for International Education (Cosgrove Hall, lower level).

      Applications will be accepted until October 1.
      Students that apply after the April 12 Priority Deadline may find that their desired program is full.

      • Follow the application instructions carefully.
      • Applications will not be reviewed until all application materials have been received.
      • Make checks payable to Seminars International.
      • The $500 application deposit is deducted from the total program cost.
      • If you are not accepted into the program, or if the program is canceled, the application deposit is refundable.
      • If you are accepted, the application deposit is non-refundable after September 17.


        Payment deadlines

        • November 1, 2013: remaining balance due


          Payment details

          • Failure to meet payment deadlines may jeopardize your place in the program.
          • Please submit your final payment to Student Account Services by November 1.
          • The final payment is non-refundable after November 1.