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  • Locations: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador; Guayaquil, Ecuador; Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Restrictions: DPU applicants only
  • Click for Tuition + Program Fee: Summer
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Short-term Academic Level: Undergraduate
Living Arrangements: Dormitories, Hotel Language of Instruction: English
Liberal Studies Domain: EL, SI: Elective Study Abroad Contact: Dominique Brown
How COVID-19 could impact this program or your study abroad plans: Please see the Study Abroad COVID-19 page for more information.
Program Description:

Galapagos animals

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, said Theodosius Dobzhansky. Evolution is the central unifying principle in the biological sciences and is critical for properly understanding the nature and generation of biological diversity. It is also one of the most misunderstood topics in science. Darwin’s development of the theory of evolution by natural selection is a story of great scientific discovery. Darwin’s South American travels on the H.M.S. Beagle, including his observations on the Galapagos Islands, transformed him from an insecure young man, unsure of his future, into an established scientist that would eventually revolutionize the scientific world.

Galapagos: Evolution and Society is a short Summer Study Abroad program that will teach non-major undergraduate students how science works, how one of the greatest scientific theories of all time was developed, and how the organisms on the Galapagos Islands have taught generations of scientists about the evolution of life on Earth. The program will include two courses about the Galapagos that will run in the Spring quarter, one concentrating on understanding evolution and the other on the diversity of life found there. Students will then travel to Ecuador for two weeks, spending about half the time on coastal mainland Ecuador learning about the fauna and flora that are ancestral to the species presently on the Galapagos and about the culture of mainland Ecuador, and the other half on the Galapagos, traveling from island to island to learn about evolution, ecology, and biogeography. We will conclude the program with three sessions in the Fall quarter at DePaul, during which students will reflect on their experiences in the Galapagos and in mainland Ecuador, and complete assignments for their courses.

Besides the learning experiences obtained through the course work and travels, the program will also allow students to meet two of the following non-majors requirements: SWK, SI and Junior Experiential Learning. This program will be of particular interest to students wanting to better understand the process of evolution and natural selection, the nature of large-scale conservation efforts, or just explore the amazing diversity of unique life forms found in the Galapagos.


Windsor Aguirre is an Associate Professor of Biology at DePaul University, where he has taught General Biology, Evolution, Concepts in Evolution, Molecular Methods in Ecology and Evolution, Evolution in Health and Medicine, Biostatistics, and Vertebrate Diversity and Evolution. He is an evolutionary biologist that studies population-level processes in fishes, including the freshwater fishes of Ecuador. He is also a US-Ecuador dual citizen that lived ten years in Ecuador (his undergraduate degree is from the University of Guayaquil) and travels there regularly for research and leisure.
Stanley Cohn is a Professor of Biology at DePaul University, where he has taught General Biology, Cell Biology, Senior Capstone, and Science Education courses, as well as doing research into the ecological conditions affecting the movement of cells. He has previously traveled to the Galapagos, is an amateur nature photographer, and has been part of a local Chicago panel debate on the evidence for evolution.

All students will be enrolled in the following 2 courses:
Course BIO 104: Evolution and Society
Credits 4 credit hours
Term registered Spring 2021
Class meeting times TBD
Liberal Studies domain Students will receive Scientific Inquiry (SI) credit by default. If students would prefer Experiential Learning (EL) credit, it is available by request at the time of course registration, prior to the start of the quarter.
Taught by Windsor Aguirre
Course description In Evolution and Society, students will learn about Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, how it was developed including the importance of Darwin’s visit to the Galapagos Islands on the H.M.S. Beagle, what evidence exists to support the theory of evolution, and what it means for society. More broadly, we will learn about the fundamental nature of science. What is science? How do we distinguish science from pseudo-science? How are hypotheses tested? To do so, we will cover the scientific method, learn about the misconceptions surrounding evolution, and go over case studies in evolution to learn how real scientists go about testing the predictions of evolutionary theory.
Course BIO 183: Natural History of the Galapagos
Credits 4 credit hours
Term registered Spring 2021
Class meeting times TBD
Liberal Studies domain Students will receive Scientific Inquiry (SI) credit by default. If students would prefer Experiential Learning (EL) credit, it is available by request at the time of course registration, prior to the start of the quarter.
Taught by Stanley Cohn
Course description This course is designed to present students with the diversity and unique life forms that exist on the Galapagos Islands and the nearby coastal region of Ecuador. The organisms of the Galapagos Islands are isolated from the mainland of South America, resulting in a large number of animal and plant species found only on these islands. This course will cover the ecosystems, geology, and plant/animal adaptations of these islands, and on the way in which these unique adaptations relate to the ecological pressures found on the islands and the surrounding marine environment. Comparisons between mainland and island populations will be discussed to help demonstrate the way in which new ecological pressures on isolated ancestral populations can give rise to evolution.
Please note that although some courses are registered in a particular term, some coursework or final assignments may be due in a different term. E.g. Course registered in winter quarter, but coursework is due in spring quarter once the travel component of the program is complete.

Participants will stay on a private cruise ship during the week in the Galapagos and in dorms (Guayaquil) and hotels (Puerto Lopez) during the week spent in mainland Ecuador.

Students will spend two weeks in the field in Ecuador. The field component of the program will start with a few days in coastal Ecuador visiting Machalilla National Park and the La Plata Island to learn about the fauna and flora from which the species on the Galapagos evolved. This will also give students the opportunity to experience some of the authentic culture of Ecuador. The Machalilla National Park includes hiking trails in coastal Ecuador that include areas inhabited by a number of species thought to be ancestral to those that colonized the Galapagos. The Isla de la Plata is a small island off the coast of Ecuador that is famous for its colonies of seabirds and the aquatic life around the island. On the way to the Isla de la Plata, we hope to encounter active humpback whales.

We will then fly to the Galapagos and spend seven days traveling around the Galapagos Islands via ship. Students will have the opportunity to hike, snorkel, and visit scientific research stations on the Islands, directly observing a number of unique organisms endemic to the Galapagos. The explorations will allow them to compare the differences between the coastal organisms and island organisms, and how island isolation affects the process of evolution and the resulting plant and animal adaptations.


All students participating in study abroad will be charged both tuition (billed at the regular DePaul tuition rate, based on the number of credits enrolled) and a program fee. Please read the program fee details carefully to understand exactly what is included, as this can vary from program to program. If the program fee is posted, be sure to note whether the fee is current or from a previous year (past program fees may serve as a guide until the current program fee is available). If the current program fee has not yet been posted, please check back closer to the application deadline. Please also note the withdrawal policy.

DePaul offers several types of scholarships for students studying abroad, and students should visit the scholarship page early in the application process for information on eligibility and deadlines.


DePaul Study Abroad is carefully monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic, and this program is currently moving forward in the Summer 2021 term. If the program is canceled prior to departure, students will be refunded 100% of the program fee and withdrawn from any associated classes with no penalty or tuition charges. Study Abroad has also modified the standard Withdrawal Policy, and any students who commit to this program and decide to withdraw 90+ days prior to the program start date will not be charged any withdrawal fees. For more information, go to the DePaul Study Abroad COVID-19 Updates page.

If you are planning to study abroad and do not have a passport, apply for one immediately. Some programs require students to obtain student visas. In that case, contact the country's local consulate or embassy for up-to-date instructions. As of this publication, students traveling with US passports on the Galapagos: Evolution and Society program DO NOT need a visa. Please note that visa requirements can change quickly. Study Abroad will update this website to reflect changes as they become available.

Here are some helpful tips from former students who have participated in this program:
  • Get a map and have an understanding of where the important streets and locations are.
  • Consider researching the types of fauna and marine life, such as fish of the area, to know what you expect to see. This will play a big part in identifying what you saw in assignments, and it is always better to be specific.
  • Getting the assignments done on the day they were assigned, even if you are exhausted, would be best because it is still fresh in your mind and you will not have to rush to finish later.
  • Bring something engaging to occupy yourself during travel time because you'll have a lot of free time during traveling throughout the program.
  • Have everyone's phone number in case you become separated.
  • Drink bottled water and avoid the tap to avoid getting sick.
  • The other members of your group may want to explore so go with them and experience different things, just remember to stay safe and aware of your surroundings as you're in another country!

DePaul University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or handicap in admissions, employment, or the provision of services. Inquiries regarding this policy should be addressed to the Director of Human Resources, 1 East Jackson Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60604.

Circumstances, such as an unexpected event abroad or a curriculum change, may require DePaul University to make changes to the program. DePaul University reserves the right to cancel or alter programs and courses without notice.

Dates / Deadlines:

Thank you for your interest in this program! We are not currently accepting applications. In general, applications open about 6 months before program application deadlines.

This program is currently not accepting applications.