Academic Programs

Embark on a journey of discovery with our travel academic programs. Experience new cultures, broaden your perspectives, and deepen your knowledge as you explore the world. From cultural immersions to language courses, our programs are designed to provide you with a unique and enriching learning experience. So pack your bags and join us on an adventure that will broaden your horizons and shape your future.

Applied biology, ecology and research

Academic Program

Located in the tropical zone of the planet, Ecuador has constant temperatures throughout the year. This, added to the influence of the Andes mountain range and the marine currents, favor the appearance of diverse microclimates. Ecuador is recognized for being a small country comprehended by 4 regions that encompass a wide range of ecosystems and microclimates, for which there are endemic animals that live exclusively in small portions of the national territory. All these characteristics provide different types of vegetation and ecosystems that make this small country one of the 17 megadiverse countries, which are home to more than two-thirds of the world’s biodiversity.

This small country located at the heart of South America has plenty to offer in different areas of study but also specialized tours such as ornithology, marine ecosystems, herpetology, entomology, and climatic floors, among others.

Our biology and Ecology programs give students the chance to immerse themselves into Ecuador’s four regions, with unique experiences and activities that offer hands-on lessons and training in all fields related to natural science and applied ecology. These programs are an exciting chance for students to study and experience flora, fauna, and natural environments in some of the richest and most abundant ecosystems on the planet. Additionally, including activities that develop observational skills such as field work, conducting experiments, and keeping accurate scientific records in a megadiverse country abroad adds a lot to students’ resumes, researchers and professors.

Range of activities, topics and regions:

  • Applied research and practices on iconic species such as giant tortoises, amphibians, mammals and sea turtles. 
  • Tropical biodiversity and ecology (Amazon, Andes, Pacific Coast and Galapagos Islands) 
  • Conservation and monitoring programs
  • Community-based conservation 
  • Protected natural areas management
  • Natural resources management 

Climate change

Academic Program

Ecuador has been affected by high-intensity events due to climate change such as “El Niño” phenomenon, the glaciers melting, the decrease in runoff that feeds natural water sources, the overpopulation of invasive species in fragile ecosystems, the extinction of species in the four regions and the increase in tropical diseases such as dengue or malaria.

The impact of climate change is mainly reflected in agriculture. Extreme events and climatic irregularities caused the absence of rains for several months, almost completely affecting the cultivation territories in some provinces of the Highlands. Ecuadorian health is also affected, as the increase in the contagion of infectious diseases is closely related to temperature and rainfall.

Due to a large number of small cities with high rates of poverty and the threat of natural disasters, the coast is the region most affected by climate change in the country. Poverty levels are accentuated in provinces with greater physical exposure to climatic phenomena, basic services limitations and weak local government authorities.

Our programs aim to expose these effects of climate change in the daily lives of common people and in the involved production business which are affected by climate change. We aim that participants learn of new technologies used in the country to assess the best approach to deal with climate change as a transversal axis of responsible practices. Waste management, energy production, water use and treatment, ecological bulding / construction and alternative mobility are some of the major contents of the program, in addition, a link with conservation and restoration of iconic ecosystems such as the Amazon forest, the mangroves, the choco, the paramo, coral reefs, among others can be done in line with the new carbon markets strategies that are been implemented worldwide. On this way we create a link with the ecosystem and create awareness regarding the impact that human activity has on the environment in order to build an ecological vision and live harmoniously in it.

Range of activities, topics and regions:

  • Water treatment
  • Ecological building
  • Waste management
  • Alternative mobility
  • Carbon Market
  • Conservation / restauration 
  • Responsible practices and education

Sustainable Development & Conservation

Academic Program

Sustainable development is paramount if we wish to find a solution to current world problems and inequalities. A balance between nature conservation, social development and economic growth is the equilibrium required to overcome the challenges that many communities and natural areas face. In Ecuador there are great examples of communities that have changed their economic activities providing a greater value to nature and its resources. Our programs allow participants to get up close and personal with successful sustainable development and conservation projects for a complementary understanding of their studies or research.

Some of the most renowned organizations in Ecuador are Frente Insular in Galapagos Islands which contributes to the conservation of species and the change of behaviors of the community, the Napo Wildlife Center lodge, which is a community-run ecotourism project that contributes to the Añangu Kichwa community in the Amazon, and the Forest school project of the Commonwealth of the Chocó Andino region, which aims to benefit the local population and ensure the socio-ecological sustainability of the territory.

Range of activities and topics:

  • Visit iconic conservation projects
  • Community based conservation
  • Research based conservation
  • Sustainability 
  • UN’s sustainable development goals

Extractive Impacts

Academic Program

Although extractive activities in Ecuador constitute the main source of income for the country, the excessive and illegal expansion of mining and oil exploitation represents an important environmental and cultural threat due to deforestation and contamination of Amazonian rivers inhabited by several indigenous groups of the country. The Amazon, also known as “the lungs of the world”, is an important provider of ecosystem goods and services that favor biodiversity, so its destruction has a far-reaching impact on the countries in which it extends.

Our programs focus on the in-situ analysis of social, environmental and economic impacts of mining and drilling activities in the country. In addition, alternatives are proposed and ideas are shared based on the knowledge acquired through observation, the story of historical and current events and comparisons with similar environments.

Range of activities and topics:

  • Explore oil pits and mining areas
  • Visit communities that resist extractivist activities
  • Alternative development projects
  • Assessment of impacts in fragile ecosystems
  • Environmental remediation

Agroecology and food systems

Academic Program

Agriculture and fishing are some of the most primitive activities of human beings so they have always kept a close relationship in their development. This activity plays a crucial role in the socioeconomic growth of the country as it represents an important source of employment, the contribution to national income, food for people and animals, an agent for Ecuador’s exports and allows the reduction of imports since post-colonial times. Consequently, the development of the agricultural sector also contributes to other countries’ productive sectors.

According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries of Ecuador, the agricultural sector contributes approximately 30% of national employment and fishing approximately 8%. In addition, an interesting fact is that more than 60% of Ecuadorian women in rural areas work in the fields or production lines on farms.

The cultivation of bananas, coffee, cocoa and flowers along with fishing for tuna and shrimp have been the principal traditional export products during the decades of 1968 to 2008. However, during the past two decades, exportations also included newer and more industrialized products such as canned fruits, vegetables and seafood, vegetable fats, chocolate bars and packed local cereals such as quinoa.

However, human growth and other challenges such as climate change have caused impacts in social, economic and natural systems worldwide and communities now look for the best management of their food sovereignty and as a result, new practices in agriculture activity reach the surface through agroecology, which stipulates a responsible use of natural resources such as water, soil, energy and waste management are an important component of the program.

Activities and contents related to cultivation techniques, agricultural development in the different regions and the analysis of the impacts this industry has on a social, environmental and economic level.

Agricultural and fishing programs cover different specialties of agricultural sciences such as agronomy, animal production, rural development and agribusiness could take part in the program’s focus, according to your main interests. In the Galapagos islands a special focus on better understanding the dynamics of “artisanal fishing and industrial fishing” is a great option for sustainable related careers that are in line with eco-social development and natural protected areas management.

Range of activities: 

  • Agroecology practices in the Andes region with iconic food products such as quinoa, corn, potatoes, amaranth, etc. 
  • Artisanal fishing and sustainable fishing practices vs industrial practices
  • Banana & cocoa plantations
  • Shrimp & fisheries farms
  • Organic coffee farms
  • Organic chocolate industry

Local Business & Community Empowerment

Academic Program

Ecuador offers experiences that are practiced from an ancestral past to contemporary times by using bio-natural products central to its evolution. Among the most prominent products there are fine aroma chocolate, coffee, banana, dairy products, handmade indigenous textiles and community tourism services. An entrepreneurial spirit is alive and driving innovation for the future of product development, authenticity in guide interpretation and sustainability of local economies in Ecuador.

The socio-economic context that has led to restrictions such as lack of professional jobs, quality of remuneration or positions that adapts to the needs and expectations of workers, has motivated young graduates to incursionate into opening business in all sorts of fields related to the most productive local industries. The development of new businesses has allowed the economic and social stability of the country to rise 12 places, from 103 to 91, according to the Global Competitiveness Index presented annually by the World Economic Forum. The implemented businesses mainly move around the agriculture, textiles, fishing and services sectors.

Our programs open participants to work in the local business environment of Ecuador offering the chance to see growing and successful initiatives in small cities or communities that are making a difference locally. These programs showcase local linkages and creative businesses that have helped minorities and people in need.

Participants will have the chance to visit industry leaders in different areas such as sustainable agribusiness and natural cosmetics with a fair trade approach and see firsthand how they were able to grow and find success. In addition, we visit innovative startups and co-working spaces to see the challenges that emerging locals have to face industry giants.

Programs through different places and communities will show students what it’s like to work in a country with plenty of resources but also many socio-economic challenges.

Range of activities and topcis:

  • Wineries
  • Fair trade production
  • Coffee farms at Intag
  • Organic cocoa production
  • Artisanal fishing at Galapagos

Ecotourism & Travel Impact

Academic Program

The travel and leisure sectors are strategic to the Ecuadorian economy. Within this industry, tourism has relevant comparative advantages for its development with a sustainable and ethical approach. Tourism in Ecuador encourages the creation of entrepreneurship and jobs, besides protecting the natural environment it also strengthens the cultural identity of its population through gastronomy, history and traditions.

Ecuador, due to its geographical conditions, has very diverse ecosystems and microclimates that influence its inhabitant’s daily life. The main wealth of the country lies in its natural and cultural diversity. Ecuador owns unequaled multiethnic, intercultural and plurinational wealth. Ecuadorian culture has its origin in the influence that each of the peoples has had on the Ecuadorian territory throughout history. In the country, there are 14 nationalities, each with its own customs, languages and history.

However, the tourism industry also generates negative social, economic and environmental impacts that mainly affect local communities. The challenge is to maximize the positive impacts through services that benefit the community, do not affect the environment in the long term and generate economic growth in order to improve the quality of life of more people.

Our programs take participants and researchers to see and understand the positive and negative effects of tourism on the environment and local communities. Participants will be able to visit sustainable tourism entrepreneurship that has a great positive impact locally and that are examples of good management of the tourism business.

Range of topics:

  • Iconic ecotourism projects in the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos
  • Friendly touristic infrastructure
  • Responsible tourism and conservation
  • Tourism in protected areas

Traditional Medicine & Health

Academic Program

An approach of this program is to learn the ancestral medicine treatments and vision that some indigenous communities have used for centuries. The use of a variety of plants to be used in sacred places in the jungle, sacred songs and ceremonies are considered an alternative medical option for many people.

Traditions such as home birth practices with the support of midwives and doulas are quite common in indigenous communities, we are able to better understand these ancient practices and see firsthand how they take place.

On the other hand, access to health and basic services is restricted for the indigenous peoples of Ecuador, both in urban areas and in remote settlements. Some indigenous peoples of the Amazon are also exposed to diseases by oil activities. The extractive activity in the Ecuadorian Amazon has had an enormous environmental and ancestral impact, especially on the communities. For this reason, situations such as the pandemic mainly affect these groups, whose populations are significantly smaller than the rest of the population.

Participants who take this program will be able to visit projects of medical and food assistance to the Amazonian communities of Ecuador. This is necessary since many indigenous populations don’t have access to a good health system and are considerably affected by diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis, or other problems related to oil pollution and toxic waste contamination.

Range of activities:

  • Medical practices with indigenous communities
  • Tropical diseases research
  • Alternative medicine
  • Shamanism and ceremonies
  • Traditional birth practices

Arts and Culture

Academic Program

Ecuadorian arts and culture are mainly understood in three eras: pre-colonial, colonial, and contemporary. In the first one, there is intangible and tangible patrimony dating from the year 2500 BC, which reflects the worldview and the development of the original cultures in those times. The second is characterized by its religiousness where architecture and painting influenced by the Spanish conquest stand out. Finally, contemporary art displays a fusion of different historical periods to create new artwork and a mosaic of cultures which includes indigenous, mestizo, and black-and-white fusion.

In our Arts & Culture programs, students can see firsthand the original artwork and costumes that defined the three-period styles by the most famous artists and communities in Ecuador. However, our programs are comprehensive and can be adapted to focus on either single or multiple art periods and styles. In either case, we include the best and most reflective experiences including communities, museums, monuments, sites, and venues for your chosen destination.

Range of activities and topics:

  • Explore iconic museums of Ecuador
  • Contemporary artwork 
  • National Ballet Jacchigua – First cultural living museum
  • Straw hats weaving handwork 
  • Indigenous weaving workshops and field practices programs
  • Indigenous artwork

Anthropology and archeology

Academic Program

Some of the most ancient tribes in what today is known as Ecuador left evidence of their tools, crops, trade, and social and political organization prior to the arrival of the Incas at the end of the 15th century. Some of the most renowned tribes were the Machalilla and Valdivia or Jama Coaque. Afterward, the Inca empire undertook strong conquests to dominate the central Andean territory in which they also built important centers of political and religious power. However, this empire was subdued by the Spanish crown after their arrival in America in 1492 imposing their customs and religion that still have influence today. Nowadays, Ecuador encompasses 14 nationalities and 18 indigenous peoples that live harmoniously together.

Participants will visit some of the most famous archaeological sites in Ecuador while also interacting intimately with locals to learn the customs and traditions that shaped the mosaic of different tribes. In our archaeology programs, participants will tour the heart of pre-colonial Ecuador and also the major cities to discover the rich past and key historic events that shaped them. Participants can also visit different points of the “capaq ñan” or “Inca trail” in Ecuador. This road construction that covers 6000km corresponding to the ancient Inca territory along the Andes mountain range, is crossed by six South American countries. In Ecuador, this road runs 108km from north to south, in which there are 49 archaeological sites linked to 31 communities.

In addition, the Ecuadorian amazon region is home to 12 indigenous communities (two of them uncontacted with the western civilization) with exceptional cultural richness framed by this unique natural region. An incredible experience in which aspects such as ethnobiology, philosophy, music, dance, and other eco-social practices, in line with a unique cosmovision, could be part of this program as well.
Archeological school practices can be arranged with our scientific partners that are performing constant research in valuable archeological areas on the coast and the Andes region of Ecuador.

Range of activities and topics:

  • Explore iconic archeological sites and temples in Ecuador 
  • Spend time with unique indigenous communities 
  • Be part of spiritual ceremonies 
  • Archeological field practices programs
  • Ethnobiology
  • Andes/Amazon cosmovision

Languages (Spanish and Kichwa)

Academic Program

Ecuador is a multicultural and multiethnic country that stimulates the development and strengthening of the cultural identity of the 14 nationalities that inhabit its territory, each with its own ancestral language. Spanish is the official language of the country and the most widely spoken by its population, however, there are several indigenous languages that coexist with it, the most widely spoken of these is Kichwa, which is spoken in urban and rural areas distributed throughout the country.

Spanish arrived in America with the conquest process in the 15th and 16th centuries, and from then on a miscegenation between the aboriginal languages and Castilian has been generated. Over time, Spanish language incorporated words from America that were unknown in Europe. Currently the Spanish spoken in the Ecuadorian territory has variations according to the different regions of the country and has unique characteristics such as the excessive use of diminutives and the incorporation of Quichua words.

Similarly, the Kichwa, being a language shared by 16 different indigenous peoples of the country, has variations depending on the province in which their inhabitants live. This language has historically been relegated giving greater importance to Spanish as a language of teaching and political administration. However, it is currently expanding and is spoken not only by indigenous communities but also in different provinces of the country through which its inhabitants have been displaced.

Our programs allow students to understand languages as a part of the cultural identity and cosmovision of their speakers. The particular way of speaking both Spanish and Kichwa in Ecuador is a reflection of their historical and ancestral past.

Range of activities:

  • Visit indigenous communities
  • One to one spanish / kichwa lessons
  • Cultural activities
  • Gastronomy 
  • Fun spanish / kichwa workshops

Outdoors Learning

Academic Program

“Outdoor learning” is an umbrella term for actively inclusive facilitated approaches that predominately use activities and experiences in the outdoors which lead to learning, increased health and well-being, and environmental awareness.
Our education team, with the support of universities and researchers, can design “education workshops” that involve the exploration of socio-ecosystems in Ecuador and the execution of experiential activities that will enhance the learning process of students of different fields of interest. We are specialists in Inquiry-based learning and place-based education processes which incorporate the use of pedagogic strategies such as metacognition, bloom’s taxonomy, multiple intelligences, and pedagogic mediation, among others. This program is ideal for teachers, professors, and facilitators who are willing to develop new skills to incorporate the “experience” and the “outdoors” as a source of learning.

Range of topics:

  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Place-based education
  • Development of curricular lessons with experiential learning cycles 
  • The constructivism approach
  • Project-based learning

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