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Overseas and Off-Campus Programs

Ecuador Cuenca

Semester: Spring
Offered: Annually 
Estimated Dates: Mid-January to mid-April
Program Focus: Regional Area Study with language component
Prerequisites: 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
, 503-768-7496
Spring 2019 Program Leader:

Freddy Vilches
Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies, Director of Latin American Studies

Spring 2020 Program Leader:

Stephen Tufte
Associate Professor of Physics and Department Chair, 503-768-7588

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: This program fulfills the 8-credit International Studies general education requirement and the overseas study requirement for the Latin American Studies minor. BIO 115 fulfills the Scientific & Quantitative Reasoning Category A general education requirement (may not be applied to the Biology major). 

4 courses per semester/ 16 credits


IS 284: 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.

Post-Program Opportunity - April 2019
Trekking in Peru
Explore the breathtaking peaks of the Peruvian Andes while trekking through the spectacular Cordillera Blanca mountain range on this unique College Outdoors trip.

This College Outdoors excursion is designed to coordinate with the Ecuador 2019 study abroad program, but open to all students, staff, and faculty. From the Lima airport we’ll head up to a remote mountain town, where we will spend several days in home-stays to immerse in the rich local culture and acclimatize to the high elevation. From there, we’ll depart for a week-long back-country trek through the spectacular and rugged Cordillera Blanca.

If you are participating in the Ecuador study-abroad program, this trip will offer a phenomenal contrast to the Amazonian rainforest and illustrate the diverse beauty of the region. We’ll learn about mountain ecosystems and Peruvian land management while taking in vistas from the highest peaks in the Andes. No technical mountaineering skills are required, but you will be carrying a full pack for several miles each day on steep terrain. This trip is the perfect capstone to your semester in South America!

Trip costs, a detailed itinerary, and more information will be posted here soon… stay tuned!


Fee Breakdown:

Total Fee (includes Tuition & Program Fee): $32,334

Tuition: $25,287

Program Fee: $7,047*

*Included in the program fee are room/housing, board/meals, field trips, administrative fees, and supplemental health insurance. Not included are airfare, passport and visa expenses, primary insurance coverage, photographs, books, immunizations, and incidentals.

Stipend: Students will receive a stipend to cover the cost of meals and transportation costs not covered by the program fee.

Estimated Airfare (Round Trip PDX to UIO): $400 - $800

Estimated Health Insurance Fee: $1,275.50*

*All students participating in overseas programs are automatically enrolled in iNext, a supplemental travel insurance program. The fee for iNext is covered in the program cost. However, students are also required to have comprehensive health insurance during their time abroad. All students participating in overseas programs, both abroad and domestic, are automatically enrolled in the College’s student health insurance program. Similar to a regular semester on-campus, students participating in overseas programs may waive enrollment in the student health insurance program if they have other comprehensive health insurance (e.g., through a parent, guardian or employer) that 1) provides coverage for them in the geographic region in which they will be studying and 2) includes mental health benefits. Click here for more information regarding health insurance & overseas programs.

Program Preparation

Application Process: Applications are due one year before the start of the program. The semester before the program, students who have been accepted will meet regularly for orientation. This orientation is meant to prepare the students for life in Havana by exploring literature and culture, and provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the logistical details of the program.

For more information about the application process, click here.

Travel: Students usually fly into the Quito airport (UIO), where they are met by a member of the Amauta Foundation staff and transported to the hotel for orientation.  

Visa: Students will be required to apply for a visa in order to participate in this program. More information will be provided upon admission to the program.

Country-Specific Health Information: Click here to view specific health information for people traveling to Ecuador.

State Department Country Information: Click here to visit the State Department’s Ecuador page.

Ecuador, Cuenca

Blog Feed: Ecuador

  • January 12, 2018 at 10:49am
    I am in Cuenca! I was really nervous to meet my host family but they are all so nice. The mom, Yanina, is especially amazing. I love spending time talking to her in the kitchen. She makes the most delicious food. I took a Spanish placement exam today at the international school I will be […]
  • November 2, 2017 at 5:41pm
    I am really excited to experience everything that Ecuador has to offer. I look forward to living with my host family and improve my Spanish. The volunteer opportunity will hopefully improve my Spanish further beyond day to day skills.
  • November 2, 2017 at 5:39pm
    I am both nervous and excited about being in Ecuador and (hopefully) really learning to speak spanish. I’ve taken spanish courses for years, but have never had to apply it in life and in actual conversations. I am excited to work on those skills and hopefully come away from the semester with proficient conversational skills. […]
  • November 2, 2017 at 5:39pm
    I’m super pumped to head over to Ecuador on January 7th! I think that I’m most excited to stay with a host family and finally learn Spanish. I’m most nervous about the giant spiders in the Amazon 🙂
  • November 2, 2017 at 5:38pm
    I’m not excited for a particular location, but I am very excited for Carnival. I’ve never experienced anything like it and I’m excited for the energy. I’m very excited to practice Spanish and be immersed in the language to a degree I never have before. That being said I’m also nervous to practice my Spanish […]
  • November 2, 2017 at 5:34pm
    I’m excited to be somewhere wholly new and unknown to me, and it seems like my departure is still faraway but it’s only two months away at this point. Time this semester has gone by so quickly, and I wonder if my time in Ecuador will go by with the same speed; I’m hoping that […]
  • November 2, 2017 at 5:28pm
    I am so excited for the opportunity to live immersed in a new culture! I am most looking forward to visiting the rainforest. I am also excited to live at a high altitude! I am most nervous about conversing in Spanish with my host family. See you soon Ecuador!
  • November 2, 2017 at 5:23pm
    I am most looking forward to practicing my Spanish and going to the Amazon Rainforest. I am excited for my volunteering opportunity as well and I look forward to finding out what that is. I am nervous about getting to Quito.
  • October 27, 2017 at 2:27pm
  • November 29, 2016 at 4:38pm


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