Tropical Conservation Semester Program Overview
Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation
has teamed up with the University
of Wisconsin to offer this exciting semester-abroad program in applied
tropical ecology and conservation. Based in Ecuador, this one-of-a-kind
program features internships with conservation organizations, participation
in ongoing habitat protection projects, coursework in the conservation
and ecology of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and immersion in Latin
American culture. The unique collaboration between two renowned
universities and an established tropical conservation organization allows
us to blend the academic and applied realms, bridging the gap between
science and practical conservation.
The TCS program is ideal for undergraduate students in both biological and social
fields that seek interdisciplinary training applicable to careers in habitat protection,
international development, tropical ecology and environmental education. By
combining extended explorations of the Galapagos and the Amazon with internships that
immerse participants in ongoing conservation projects, this intensive program grants
students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to broaden their horizons and acquire hands-on
experience with conservation and development in practice.
TCS program includes 3 main components:
I. Conservation & Ecology
sequence includes classroom and field lectures in conservation biology
and the ecology of major tropical ecosystems: terrestrial biology, marine ecology, and conservation biology.
II. Conservation Internship
with a local conservation, research or development organization during the final month
of the semester.
III. Spanish Language and
cultural immersion includes host-family stays in Quito and the Galapagos islands,
and extensive interactions with local people throughout Ecuador.
Over half the semester is spent at field sites that include the world-renowned
Galapagos Islands and the Tiputini Biodiversity
Station in Amazonian Ecuador (see Where We Go), as
well as Ceiba Foundation project sites at the El Pahuma Orchid
Reserve and the Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve. Each
course will combine classroom lectures with field instruction and activities that focus on ecology and natural history, ecosystem
and reserve management, monitoring and biological research methods, community-based
participatory planning, and habitat conservation. During the final month of
the semester, each student carries out an internship with a local organization of
their choice, putting their knowledge to work in a conservation, applied research
or sustainable development project!
See for yourself! Filmed and produced by a former student during his internship, this video highlights the activities and amazing sites of the tropical conservation semester. The video combines incredible footage of wildlife, in forests and underwater, with interviews of many of the program participants, and it reflects the full range of experiences this program offers to students. Enjoy!
Our semester program has trained conservationists and ecologists for more than a decade, with most of them going on to meaningful jobs with international organizations or field research research. Program professors are highly experienced
ecologists, each with over 25 years experience in the tropics (see Faculty).
Ceiba's ongoing habitat conservation projects are among the key sites visited during
the program, giving participants a chance to gain experience with how such projects
are planned and managed. As a member of the international conservation community,
Ceiba offers participants the opportunity to make connections with other non-governmental
organizations and to work directly with them as interns on real conservation projects.
Please visit Ceiba's home page for more information about
the foundation's activities.
& Ecology Sequence
A thorough introduction to the science of conservation biology combined with experiential
learning in a variety of terrestrial and marine communities of conservation concern.
This course covers the theoretical background for conservation problems and addresses
concepts such as population biology, habitat loss and fragmentation, land use, reserve
design and management, and sustainable development in the context of the tropical
ecosystems and human communities we visit. (3 cr.) (details
||Tropical Ecology I: Terrestrial Ecosystems
An in-depth treatment of ecological principals and a survey of major tropical ecosystems.
You'll study the ecology and conservation status of flora and fauna in each system,
practice methods for biological surveys and monitoring, and learn about key environmental
threats -- all necessary elements for planning and executing successful conservation
projects. Visits to Ceiba's El Pahuma Orchid Reserve and Lalo Loor Dry Forest,
plus a three-week stay in the Amazon rainforest highlight this hands-on learning adventure.
(4 cr.) (details ... )
||Tropical Ecology II: Marine Ecosystems
An introduction to oceanography and an exploration of the ecology, evolution and
conservation of marine environments including coral reefs, mangroves and the deep
sea. We discuss the many ways humans rely on the oceans, and how fisheries and
marine reserves are managed. Three weeks in the Galapagos Islands Marine Reserve,
including a cruise of the islands and a home stay with a local family, make this course
a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. (4 cr.) (details
Put your knowledge gained in the ecology, conservation, culture and language of
Ecuador to work in ongoing conservation projects! During the final month of
the semester, students work with a local organization to gain first-hand experience
and contribute tangibly to an active project in habitat protection, ecological research,
environmental education, or sustainable development. Choose among internships
located on the Pacific coast or in the Andes, in rural communities or remote field
stations, or in many other exciting places throughout Ecuador. (2 cr.)
(details ... )
Language & Cultural Immersion
||You will be paired with an Ecuadorian
host family in the capital city of Quito, and placed in a 3-credit Spanish language
course taught by experienced native speakers.
Pre-course placement exams ensure you receive training appropriate to your existing
command of the language. Intensive classes teach grammar, vocabulary and the
richness of Latin American culture, helping you to adapt smoothly to life in Ecuador
and communicate effectively during the program and beyond. Spanish classes take
place on an attractive university campus just outside Quito. (3 cr.) (details
Ceiba's Tropical Conservation Semester is fully accredited (16 honors
credits) by the University
of Wisconsin, for students of any college or university in the US or Canada. Students
receive a number of benefits in
addition to automatic transfer of credit, including access to financial aid,
overseas health insurance during the course, and detailed pre-departure orientation. For
further information, please contact
UW International Academic Programs
(106 Red Gym, 716 Langdon St., 608-265-6329, website, TCS program page).
If you are enrolled in an institution outside the US or Canada, please contact
Ceiba for information on obtaining credit for the TCS program.
How to Apply
1) Read the complete Course Information Packet
Required reading for anyone interested in applying or already enrolled, the course
information packet includes a thorough course description, detailed schedule, recommended
and required gear lists, travel information, and much more. View or download the packet
2) Apply through University of Wisconsin's Study Abroad Office
To complete your online application please visit the University of Wisconsin's
application site; for more detailed instructions (and if you are an international student) please check the TCS