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Overseas and Off-Campus Programs

Ecuador Cuenca




Mid-January to mid-April
Offered: Annually
Program Focus: General Culture


Spanish 201 with a “B” average or better in language study. 
Housing:  Host Families
Spring 2018 Program
Susan Davis
Senior Lecturer in Theatre/Program Head of Dance

ext. 7496

Program Design:

Academic study will focus on intensive language study, and the history, culture, and socio-economic institutions of Ecuador.  Following an orientation program in Quito, the program is centered in Cuenca and includes field trips to Jatun Sacha (primary rain forest) as well as local areas of interest.  Students live with host families while in Cuenca.

Please note: the yellow fever vaccine is now required for entry into Ecuador. All program participants must have this vaccine before they leave for their program.

Requirements Fulfilled:
Fulfills the two-course international studies requirement. BIO 115 fulfills the Math & Natural Sciences Category A laboratory requirement.

4 courses per semester/ 16 credits


  • IS 241: Contemporary Ecuador (4 credits):

This course explores different aspects of Ecuador through an anthropological optic.  The main purpose is to provide students with information, conceptual tools, and methods with which to investigate and interpret their Ecuadorian experience.  Class discussion and questions from students are very important.

The specific topics covered in the course are chosen anew each semester, in order to address current affairs and new anthropological work.  Globalization, Andean prehistory, traditional medicine, identity politics, indigenous rights movements, gender roles, religion and society, race, ethnicity, witchcraft, agricultural economics, transnational migration and Plan Colombia are some of the topics included in recent courses.  Social structure and culture in Cuenca are also included. 

The course includes day trips and a week-long fieldtrip.  Some class assignments require students to investigate and report on questions about Cuenca and its environments. Course material is presented in required readings and class lectures.  There are films and occasionally guest speakers to complement this material.  Grades are based on exams, short writing assignments, and a term paper. 

See syllabus here.

  • BIO 115: Biodiversity in Ecuador (4 credits):

This course is an introduction to Ecuador’s ecology and to conservation biology with an emphasis on Latin America and Ecuador in particular.

The first part of the course will be an overview of Ecuador’s main ecosystems and will introduce students to the general concepts of conservation biology and biodiversity at the species, genetic, and ecosystem levels before going on to examine in more detail the geographical and evolutionary factors responsible for Ecuador’s outstanding biodiversity.  We will then explore the ecology, community structure, and ecological importance of each of Ecuador’s main geographical regions.

The second part of the course will overview the threats to Ecuador’s biodiversity and the various problems faced by small populations of endangered species.  Consideration for conservation strategies will be explored for individual species and for ecosystems both from theoretical and practical standpoints. 

See syllabus here.

Click here to view projects at the Bioparque Amaru Zoo in Cuenca.

  • SPAN XXX: (2 classes for 4 credits each):

Course level will be determined by previous subject study and placement exam results.

Program Design



Ecuador, Cuenca

Blog Feed: Ecuador

  • November 29, 2016 at 4:38pm
  • April 14, 2016 at 5:17pm
    The Worldwide Classroom website defines culture shock as the “the anxiety that results from losing all familiar signs and symbols of social intercourse.” Common symptoms include bewilderment, loneliness, disproportionate irritation and frustration, insecurity, homesickness, and a desire to spend time with people from home. I’m definitely in the irritability stage of culture shock. I’m not […]
  • April 14, 2016 at 5:16pm defines ethnocentrism as the belief in the intrinsic superiority of the nation, culture, or group to which one belongs, often accompanied by feelings of dislike for other groups, and cultural relativism as the view that ethical and moral standards are relative to what a particular society or culture believes to be good/bad, right/wrong.   Personally, […]
  • April 14, 2016 at 5:14pm
    According to the dictionary, syncretism is the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought. Catholicism is heavily syncretic. Christmas, Easter, All Saints’ Day, and Corpus Cristi are all examples of major holidays that were heavily influenced by non-Catholic religions. Much of syncretism stems from attempts to ease people into Catholicism […]
  • April 13, 2016 at 12:24pm
    I define syncretism as the combination of cultures, rituals, and/or traditions. When I think of syncretism in Ecuador, religion is usually the only thing that comes to mind. The combinations of Catholicism and indigenous tradition come together to create something unique and specific to la gente aquí. It’s interesting to think about this phenomenon, specifically […]
  • April 13, 2016 at 7:14am
    I personally define culture shock as the experience of a new culture different than you own, with what might be surprising customs, traditions, behaviors, etc. Culture shock can be hard for some people or exciting for others. Being in Ecuador, I haven’t actually experienced that much of culture shock. I have traveled in the past […]
  • April 12, 2016 at 12:55pm
    Ethnocentricity is the inclination to use ones own culture as the standard against which all others are held. I grew up in the dieting culture of the United States. Every week there is a new method by which we can lose weight as effortlessly and efficiently as possible. I am a product of the modern […]
  • April 12, 2016 at 12:55pm
    Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism I’ve always tried to stay on the side of cultural relativism, which I define as remembering the context and culture you’re in instead of immediately judging something. I view ethnocentrism as something that stems from racism or a type of nationalism, that your culture is the best and every other culture […]
  • April 12, 2016 at 12:54pm
    Before coming to Ecuador I was given forewarning that “catcalling” would be an issue and that people would stare because I look different. What I was unprepared for was the reaction that my appearance would evoke from children. My commute to and from school involves a short walk and a twenty-minute bus ride. I am […]
  • April 12, 2016 at 12:52pm
    It is the job of public healthcare workers to address the health needs of the community in its entirety. With a clear divide between indigenous and modern culture, it is only natural that the healthcare system would reflect such a blend and such a distinction. During our cultural study project, I have addressed this larger […]


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