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Galapagos Islands

May 16 - June 14, 2014 (4 weeks)

Students interested in this program may qualify
for the federally funded Gilman Scholarship. 
Click here for details.

Total Program Fee: $5,500

Click here to see the TnCIS Ecuador Facebook page

Click here to see a photo blog created by a former student

Due to limited accommodation space, this program has a maximum capacity.  Interested students are strongly encouraged to apply by the early application deadline.  TnCIS anticipates that a wait list will be initiated for the regular acceptance applicants.  Contact TnCIS if you
have questions.

Academics and Courses    Application, Cost, and Important Details

IMPORTANT NOTE: It is possible that not all TnCIS programs or all TnCIS courses are available at your institution. A complete listing of courses offered at each member institution is available at www.tncis.org/members. Please contact your TnCIS campus representative for instructions on registering and paying fees. 


Program Location:

The Galápagos Islands is one of the world's most beautiful and biologically diverse places in the world. The crystalline waters of the Galápagos sustain schools of fish with brilliant colors, playful sea lions and dolphins, and ancient sea turtles. But the beauty of the Galápagos extends beyond the wildlife of the ocean. On land, the fauna of these islands is equally as diverse. Lava lizards, land iguanas, pelicans, flamingos, giant tortoises, swallow-tailed gulls, and blue-footed boobies are just some of the animals that make their home here. It is the biological diversity of the Galápagos that helped inspire Charles Darwin and his theories long ago. While on Galapagos we will be staying in Puerto Ayora which is located on the Santa Cruz Island. We will also be visiting the Islands of Isabela, and North Seymore.

Program Description:

This program brings students to one of the world's most biologically-diverse island locations to study topics in genetics, biology, drawing, and philosophy.  During this four week program, students will experience the biodiversity of the Islands. Simultaneously, the students will have the additional opportunity of being immersed in local culture and the Spanish language.  Biology courses will study in a living laboratory that provides opportunities to see and experience coursework hands on.  Students in the genetics course will study basic concepts of genetics, specifically population genetics, evolution leading to speciation, and molecular genetics. Biology students will be able to observe the flow of energy, chemistry of life, cellular respiration and photosynthesis in the wide diversity of animal and plant species in this area.  The literature course will engage the students by mainly focusing on writings, readings and poetry pertaining to life and the beauty of local scenery and the natural world. The students in the statistical analysis course will learn various concepts of statistics and perform, in a team-work format, experimental analysis of data similar to those observed by Darwin himself.  All courses will incorporate the islands into their classwork to culminate in a unique academic experience that cannot be compared to a US classroom.   

Please note: Prospective students should be aware that study abroad programs require a great deal of walking. You should be prepared to walk at least 2 to 3 miles per day.  You may also walk over uneven, possibly slippery or rocky terrain, even in cities.  There will be significant time spent outdoors during the program.  Students will need to take appropriate precautions with sun exposure and drink plenty of water.

Excursions may include: There may be multiple excursions in the Port Ayora Island as well as to two other Islands of the Galapagos.  Excursions may include visits to the Charles Darwin Research Station, Bay tour, Santa Cruz highlands, Volcano Negro on the Isabela Island and the North Seymore Island. 

Classes: Lectures will be held for three hours per day in the mornings and the labs will be held in the afternoons. We will meet for classes six days a week. 

Accommodations: Students will share rooms with other same-gender students in clean, comfortable hotels. Students will be provided 3 meals daily. Given the structure of the program and the resources available in some locations, the program may not be able to accommodate students with specific dietary preferences. If you have dietary concerns, please contact TnCIS.


All TnCIS programs are academic in nature and course work that takes advantage of the program location will be the central focus. Programs offered by TnCIS through any member institution  are in keeping with SACSCOC policies for each respective institution where compliance is monitored at the institutional level.  TnCIS program courses are for credit only. In Ecuador, students will enroll in ONE of the following courses for 3 or 4 credit hours:

BIOLOGY: General Genetics with lab (4 credit hours - Prerequisites: BIOL 1010 and 1020 or two years of high school biology; and CHEM 1010 and 1020 or consent of instructor.)
Mendelian genetics, chromosomal inheritance, chromosome mapping, linkage, gene and chromosomal mutations, recombination, gene expression, population genetics, and quantitative genetics will be discussed. Students will use classical Mendelian genetics and the theories and methods associated with population genetics principals, learned in this introductory genetics class, to explore and analyze the biodiversity, evolution and the extant speciation of the island through field trips to natural locations and visits to museums of natural history.  Students will receive 4 credit hours for this course and lab.  See course syllabus

BIOLOGY: General Biology II with lab (4 credit hours - Prerequisite: BIOL 1110)
This is a foundational course in biology that will equip science majors with a broad knowledge base to complete further studies in biology.  Beginning with the history of evolutionary thought and how evolution works, this course surveys a wide variety of organisms and their physiology from simple prokaryotes to the complex mammals with special attention given to developing knowledge of life on the Galápagos Islands.  The site will be incorporated to the course by taking multiple excursions to observe native terrestrial & aquatic organisms and their interactions with one another.   Students will see the same organisms observed by Charles Darwin during his 19th century travels that inspired his powerful ideas about evolution and development of new species.  This field experience will take place in many different ecosystems that may include active volcanoes, the dry coastal regions, and the mist-filled highlands that will provide an incredibly unique experience to students from Tennessee.  See course syllabus

ENGLISH:  Themes in Literature: Nature and the Environment (3 credit hours - Prerequisite: ENGL 1020)
This course will focus on nature and the environment as a theme and subject in literature.  Students will read and write about a range of fiction, literary nonfiction, and poetry.  As the first UNESCO World Heritage site, the islands have become icons for environmental awareness.  The government of Ecuador acknowledged the importance of nature and the environment by enacting legislation in the mid-20th century, attempting to halt or reverse a century's worth of damage to the ecosystem caused by human activity, migration, tourism, and overfishing that continue to stress the islands' natural resources.  Students will be able to observe the impact of human encroachment on the unique flora and fauna, making clear connections to a variety of environmental concerns globally.  Charles Darwin's 1845 visit on the HMS Beagle resulted in observations leading to his Theory of Natural Selection, the impact of which on western thought and literature is immeasurable.  See course syllabus

MATH: Introductory Statistics (3 credit hours - No prerequisites)
Students participating in this course will gain knowledge of statistical analysis by learning and utilizing data similar to those observed by Charles Darwin himself while on location on the Galapagos Islands. The observations he made while on some of most beautiful islands in the world, led him to formulate his theory of evolution. Students in this course will be exposed to Darwin's work, and be expected in a team-work format, to devise an experimental analysis on similar data using descriptive statistics.  They will do all this in an environment surrounded by a wide variety of unique and exotic sea and land species.  Students will also have an additional opportunity to be exposed to Spanish language and the local culture. Additionally, this course will satisfy the general education requirement in Mathematics for all Tennessee schools.  See course syllabus