DePaul University believes that students should start on the path to global citizenry early, hoping to open new doors to the world and help students acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes that prepare them for lives and careers in our increasingly globalized world. FY@broad programs are designed specifically for first-year students and are just one of many international learning experiences for students while at DePaul. FY@broad programs combine first-year coursework with travel abroad to enhance students' learning about particular topics. At the end of the designated course, students then travel abroad with the faculty who taught the course, as well as a staff professional, spending approximately 7-10 days visiting the sites they studied in the course. Note: While priority is given to first-year students on the FY@broad programs, sophomores may also apply if they were unable to complete the Focal Point Seminar in their first year due to inflexible class scheduling in their major.
With 7.5 billion people on Earth and counting, the demand for natural resources and degradation of natural habitats is at an all-time high. Our impact on the planet is changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere and ocean, contributing to global climate change, and accelerating the loss of natural ecosystems and extinction of species. This Focal Point Seminar will examine this modern extinction crisis from biological, economic, and ethical perspectives. We will learn about the nature of biodiversity, examining factors leading to the loss of natural habitat and species. We will study the economic factors driving the widespread destruction of the world’s ecosystems and how economists calculate the economic cost of these losses. We will then reflect on whether an ethical argument for the preservation of nature can have a real impact on conservation efforts. Finally, students will develop action plans for how we can take concrete steps to help preserve nature in the future.
The study abroad portion takes the class to Ecuador, a small country with extraordinary natural diversity. We will hike through the rainforest, snorkel in the ocean, and participate in cultural activities while observing an astounding variety of wildlife as we explore three very different types of ecosystems:
The high-elevation páramo of the Andes Mountains and the cloud forest, home to the critically-endangered Andean condor and spectacled bear, to discuss threats from climate change, as well as agriculture and livestock production
The Amazon rainforest and Yasuní National Park, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, to observe monkeys, macaws, and other forest wildlife, while interacting with the local community and studying the conflict over oil extraction vs. conservation
The Pacific coast’s Isla de la Plata, home to blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and an incredible array of ocean wildlife, to learn about the impact of ocean acidification, plastics pollution, and overfishing
Through this experience, students will see an incredible diversity of natural ecosystems and will interact with local people whose very cultural heritage is being threatened by human development.
Windsor Aguirre is an Associate Professor of Biology at DePaul University, where he teaches courses like General Biology, Evolution, Concepts in Evolution, Evolution in Health and Medicine, and Biostatistics. He is also an instructor for the short-term study abroad program Galapagos: Evolution and Society. His research specialty is in evolutionary biology, and his lab studies the evolutionary diversification of freshwater fishes. Dr. Aguirre is a US-Ecuador dual citizen that lived in Ecuador for ten years. He travels there regularly for research and leisure.
All students will be enrolled in the following two courses:
LSP 112: Biodiversity & the Modern Extinction Crisis
4 credit hours
Class meeting times
Liberal Studies domain
Focal Point Seminar
This Study Abroad Focal Point Seminar will examine the modern extinction crisis from biological, economic, and ethical perspectives. In class, students will research and discuss the causes and consequences of the continuing degradation of the Earth’s ecosystems. For the Study Abroad portion, students will travel to Ecuador and explore ecosystems in the Andes Mountains, the Amazon rainforest, and the Pacific Ocean, to see firsthand the astounding variety of wildlife on our planet and the complex challenges that are threatening the planet’s future.
Additional course information
Honors Program students will receive credit for either Scientific Inquiry (SI) or an Honors Approved Elective.
LSP 250: Travel/Study
2 credit hours
This is the two-credit course associated with the travel portion of the FY@broad program.
The prerequisite for this study abroad program is WRD 103 (or HON 100 for Honors Program students). Exceptions will be considered for students enrolling in WRD 103 (or HON 100) during the same quarter as the study abroad program coursework—if this will be the case for you, be sure to clearly indicate this in your study abroad application. Students with AP Language and Composition credit typically will have already received course credit for WRD 103.
Note: Just as with any application submitted to Study Abroad, a completed application does not guarantee program admittance. Any students not admitted to the FY@broad program will need to register for one of the other Focal Point Seminars offered that does not include a study abroad component.
While in Ecuador, the group will stay at eco-lodges and hotels primarily in rural areas and small towns. In Yasuní, the group will stay with native communities.
The group will arrive in Quito, Ecuador’s capital high in the Andes Mountains. From there, we will visit the paramo ecosystem to learn about key species like the Andean Condor and the spectacled bear and how habitat destruction and global climate change are threatening their future. The surrounding area will be rich in agricultural fields and small native American communities for students to learn about.
We will then travel to Yasuní National Park, one of the most biodiverse spots on Earth, deep in the Amazon rainforest, where we will stay with a native community to learn about their culture and relationship with the forest. Hiking through the forest and canoeing on the rivers, we will also seek to understand how such high levels of biodiversity came about and are maintained. Unfortunately, vast oil deposits in the region and deforestation threaten this fragile ecosystem. We will reflect on the complex challenges governments face when confronted with the need to exploit natural resources in areas with extremely high biodiversity.
From there, we will travel to Puerto Lopez, a small coastal town, and visit Isla de la Plata, an oceanic island with large sea bird colonies and a marine life sanctuary. There, we will learn about the threats to ocean life from pollution, ocean acidification, and over-fishing. Students will also have the opportunity to observe an Ecuadorian fishing village and the importance of ecotourism in the area.
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. Note: There are specific FY@broad scholarships available, and students are strongly encouraged to apply for the FY@broad scholarship by the application deadline. Students are also encouraged to speak with the DePaul financial aid office for more information about financing their study abroad experience.
DePaul Study Abroad is carefully monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic, and this program is currently moving forward. 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 FY@broad Ecuador 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.
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:
Dates / Deadlines:
Admissions Notification Date
NOTE: The faculty Program Director(s) will be conducting short interviews with all applicants, to meet them in-person before making final acceptance decisions. Faculty will be in contact with all applicants around the time of the application deadline to schedule these required interviews.