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  • Locations: Galapagos, Ecuador
  • Program Terms: Fall Semester, Spring Semester
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Program Sponsor: IPSL: Study Abroad + Service-Learning 
  • Restrictions: Augsburg applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description:
Galapagos Islands 



"What I have gained from being part of IPSL at GAIAS is the realization that with or without a degree there is something I can be doing. And even if it is small or seemingly insignificant, it is still something and that matters. Being conscious of what's going on in the surrounding community (whether it is social, environmental or other issues) is better and more meaningful than living enclosed in your own environment."


Deeper, More Meaningful Study Abroad

The Galápagos Islands are a world-renowned ecological treasure--important in world history as the place where Charles Darwin began his work on the theory of evolution, but known equally today for unparalleled beauty and ecological diversity. Here, wildlife not only reverberates above and below the sea surface, but most plants, animals and other forms of biodiversity are unique to the region.

Service-learning in the Galápagos offers an opportunity available nowhere else to live in and learn about a delicate and complex natural environment and the impacts--both positive and negative--of human settlement, fisheries, and tourism in that setting and, at the same time, contribute through service to maintaining this unique environment.

You may choose one of three concurrent tracks of study, with either a biology focus or a social science focus. The three programs are: Evolution, Ecology and Conservation; Marine Biology; People, Politics and the Environment. After an initial period on the campus of the Universidad San Francisco in Quito, and traveling to the Ecuadorian highlands and the Amazon jungle, you will attend a full schedule of classes at the Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS) on Isla San Cristobal, learn from world-class faculty, and engage in service related to island ecology and/or the local island community. All program courses are taught in English.

Experience Galapagos from a Local Perspective

In the Galápagos, you will live in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Isla San Cristobal, the capital of the Galápagos and the oldest settlement of the Archipelago. This small bayside village is home to the Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts & Sciences (GAIAS), the Galápagos National Park Interpretation Center, a small museum, souvenir shops, and local townspeople. The people of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno make their living principally by artisanal fishing and tourism.

Two important challenges facing the town include increased migration and efforts to stop it, and conflicts between the fishing and conservation sectors. One key issue is the illegal fishing of sharks, lobsters and sea cucumbers outside of their permitted seasons. Despite these problems the Galapagos Islands are considered to be a good example of the way in which environmental conflicts can be resolved in a peaceful manner. (The Galápagos were just removed from the "endangered" list in early 2010). During the last decade, various institutions have been created in order to allow different stakeholders a participatory role in the decision-making process. GAIAS was created as part of an effort to generate sustainable development in the Islands. In order for conservation efforts to be effective, alternatives must be given to the local population which depends so heavily upon fisheries and bureaucratic jobs. The only way for people to look at other alternatives is for them to become involved in sustainable tourism and other non-extractive activities.

The program begins in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. You will stay in a hotel, begin your coursework at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, and also travel to Riobamba in the Ecuadorian highlands and to the Amazon jungle. (CHECK OUT THE PHOTOS!)

Program Facts

Language of Instruction: English

Affiliated Institution: Galapagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences / Universidad San Francisco de Quito

Courses & Credits (students may take 17 credits per semester from the following options):

  • Organizations, Development and Volunteerism (Required IPSL Service-Learning™ Course for all three areas of concentration) | Credits: 3
  • IPSL Pre and Post Departure Seminar (Required) | Credits: 1
  • Spanish Language (beginning, intermediate or advanced level) (Required)  | Credits: 1

Evolution, Ecology and Conservation Focus

  • Evolutionary Ecology/Biology | Credits: 3
  • Native and Introduced Plants of the Galapagos | Credits: 3
  • Tropical Ecology | Credits: 3
  • Phylogenics and Molecular Evolution | Credits: 3

Marine Biology Focus (Includes 35 hours of Lab)

  • Marine Ecosystems Based Management | Credits: 3
  • Marine Ecology | Credits: 3
  • Marine Life | Credits: 3
  • Techniques of Marine Research | Credits: 3

People, Politics and the Environment Focus

  • Conservation and Wildlife Management | Credits: 3
  • Health and the Environment | Credits: 3
  • Political Ecology | Credits: 3
  • Comunitites and Natural Resource Management | Credits: 3

Optional Courses for an Additional Fee

  • Spanish Language - Optional Course - no credit | Free except for purchase of textbook
  • Art in the Galapagos Islands - Optional Course | Credits: 1
  • Digital Photography in the Galapagos Islands - Optional Course | Credits: 1
  • Salsa Dancing in the Galapagos Islands - Optional Course | Credits: 1
  • Dive Course - Optional Course - no credit

Service Opportunities:

  • conservation
  • introduced species control
  • pest control
  • reforestation
  • sustainable agriculture
  • waste management
  • working in day care centers, elementary or high schools
  • teaching in languages and mathematics in the community college


You will live with a local host family, giving you the opportunity to make life-long friends, reinforce language skills, and experience the culture from "the inside." In your free time, you may participate in outdoor activities such as swimming, snorkeling, diving, hiking and surfing. Upon arrival in Quito, you will stay in a hostel/hotel as a group for a 1-2 days (this is all arranged for you and part of the program fee and you wil be met at the airport and taken to the hotel).  You will then be introdcued to your host family and live with them for the remainder of your time in Quito. On the Islands, students live with a host family as well. Upon arrival back in Quito at the end of the program, any needed additional accomodations before departing Ecuador are up to the participant to arrange.


  • A variety of academic excursions, service-learning and fieldwork as an integral part of every IPSL course
  • Small class size & individualized support
  • Optional Basic Spanish course
  • Optional 1-credit course in digital photography
  • Accelerated language learning
  • Making a difference to people in need
  • Full cultural immersion
  • International practical field experience
  • Meaningful growth and personal insight through regular assigned reflection

Program Director: Prof. Diego Quiroga

Eligibility: The program welcomes students of any nation who have a high school diploma or equivalent credential. TOEFL equivalent 550. Applicants should have completed at least one year of university-level studies and must have at least a 3.0 GPA. Students applying for the Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation in Galapagos program should have completed one course each in general biology and ecology. We recommend that students have had at least 2 years of high school Spanish or 1 year of college/university Spanish to facilitate the service experience.

Program fees Include: tuition for up to 17 credits; pre-departure materials; service placement and supervision; health insurance; administrative fees; airport transfers; mainland trips; room and most meals. Quito includes breakfast, lunch and dinner M-F and breakfast and dinner Sat and Sun. The Galapagos includes 2 meals - breakfast and dinner per day (except for excursion days which provide mostly 3 meals per day); domestic airfare (Quito-Galapagos-Quito); National Park fee; program-related trips in the Galapagos; boat tour of the islands; Resident Coordinators in Quito and Galapagos.

Personal expenses NOT covered by fees include: international airfare; textbooks (approximately $300-500 per semester); personal expenses and spending money. Students are also strongly encouraged to buy dive accident insurance (available from Divers Alert Network [DAN] and other sources) to cover the diving portion of the program. Please note that the first month when you are in Quito, you will need extra transcportation money to and from the university. This could be anywhere from 25 cents - $5 per ride depending on whether bus or taxi.


Augsburg students automatically receive a scholarship representing 5% of your semester-length program fee (almost $1000!) to use as you see fit. (Scholarships are disbursed after arrival in-country and are for semester-length programs only).

The first three AUGSBURG students who study abroad with IPSL on a semester program, starting Spring 2017, will receive an additional flight scholarship (max $900 value).

If you would like more information about these potential scholarships please do not hesitate to contact Andrea Dvorak ( dvorak and IPSL.

If you need any assistance in applying to study abroad, please contact Andrea Dvorak or one of the Peer Advisors in the Study Abroad/Away Office (Christensen, lower level).

Join us on  October 13th for a free online open house to learn more about IPSL's undergraduate programs! This will be a time to ask questions of an IPSL team member.
What: IPSL Undergraduate Programs Online Open House  

When: Thu, Oct 13, 2016 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Join online from your computer, tablet or smartphone:   

Or Join by phone: 1 (224) 501-3312

Access Code: 899-852-557

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.