Honors in Ecuador

International Studies in Writing and Sustainable Practices

Poster image

Summer A Term: June 22 - July 23, 2012

Cost: $4,100 (this includes tuition)

Credits: 15 credits (3-credit Spring prep seminar; 12-credit program in Ecuador)
Variation of credits may be available per preapproval with your department

All UW students are welcome to apply, priority given to College/Interdisciplinary and Departmental Honors students.

This program will satisfy the following 15 credits of Honors core requirements:
Course Credits Credit Type
Honors 220 5 Honors Natural Science (taken in summer while abroad)
Honors 210
- OR -
Honors 345
5 Honors Arts and Humanities (taken in summer while abroad)
- OR -
Honors Interdisciplinary + UW English Comp (taken in summer while abroad)
Honors 397 3 Honors Interdisciplinary (taken in spring before departure)
Honors 397 2 Honors Interdisciplinary (taken in summer while abroad)

(Note: The two Honors 397 classes will combine to satisfy one five credit Honors Interdisciplinary course requirement. Because Interdisciplinary and College Honors only requires one Honors Interdisciplinary core course, the additional courses will fall into your "Any Additional Three" Honors course requirements if you choose that option)

Apply through the IP&E website »
Due date (extended): February 15, 2012
  • Wednesday Nov. 30 4:00-5:00, MGH 211 B (Honors Seminar Room)
  • Thursday Dec. 8 4:00-5:00, MGH 211 B (Honors Seminar Room)
Pipe construction

Bill McKibben states that environmental writers investigate the "collision between people and the rest of the world." This intensively interdisciplinary program asks students conduct a deep investigation of that collision and others in a very specific locale: the small but astoundingly diverse nation of Ecuador. During the program, students will enter an academic conversation about specific cultures and environments via two perspectives: that of a writer and that of an environmental scientist. Both perspectives are informed by the concrete and experiential, the 'on-the-ground' realities of life in Ecuador, as well as by academic research and pursuits. Students will engage in sustainable design and building in Ecuador, read a selection of scholarly articles on current issues surrounding sustainability in Ecuador, and read and write a selection of environmental creative nonfiction.

Students will live and work in three distinct areas within Ecuador: the high Sierra of the central Andes from Quito to Cuenca, the sub-tropical coastal region, and the unique ecosystem of the Galapagos. The program will begin in Ecuador's capital city Quito where students will become acclimated to life in Ecuador through an orientation by CEDEI during a five-day trip in the Andes highlands from Otavalo north of Quito then south to Cuenca. This orientation trip will introduce the student to the amazing array of ecosystems of the highlands and into the Amazon rain forest. In Cuenca, our home base for the first part of the program, students will live with host families and participate in cultural activities and a week of immersion Spanish at different levels of proficiency. During frequent excursions, we will focus on the dynamic relation between local action and global policy via environmental writing, Andes treks, and community interaction.

The program will continue in Guayaquil where we will work extensively with Universidad Casa Grande and the non-profit social justice and community-building organization Hogar de Cristo. With Hogar de Cristo, we will plan and participate in a sustainability workshop for a sustainable bamboo housing community in the impoverished areas of outer Guayaquil. With UCG students we will build an urban garden for FASINARN, an educational facility for mentally challenged children.

Galapagos Lake

In the final part of the program students will fly to the Galapagos Islands to both learn about one of the most unique ecosystems of the world, but also to participate in a service project that will help sustain this fabulous environment. Throughout the trip, students will engage in the exploration of various 'critical practices' through writing, experiential learning, and environmental and cultural scholarship as it pertains to Ecuador and the developing world.

Pre-trip Seminar in Writing and Sustainability (Honors 397, 3 credits)

This seminar will initiate reading pertinent to the two major classes and include pre-travel creative nonfiction and analysis, discussion of Latin America culture and development, and concepts of sustainability including a weekend workshop. Students will learn about travel logistics, such as packing lists, tools and materials, health concerns, and conduct.

This is a required seminar and will meet weekly during spring quarter and include a weekend sustainable design workshop on a San Juan Island.

International Sustainable Practices (Honors 220, 5 credits)

Students will learn about appropriate technologies in building, energy, water and waste management, restoration and accompanying sustainable development. We will investigate alternate approaches, based on primary systems that are reliable and easily managed. We hope that these systems will lay the grounds for appropriate choices to be made not just for future development in this and surrounding communities, but be an integral tool for use by the students in their future careers.

Writing Ecuador (Honors 210 or Honors 345, Honors Composition)

Outdoor lecture

This course will focus on traveling, living, and working in Ecuador through the writer's pen with intensive daily reading and writing in the fields of creative nonfiction environmental writing; Latin American travel writing, and academic texts on rural development in Ecuador and other Latin American countries. Students will extend their experiences in sustainable practices, learn about the cultural and socioeconomic history of rural Ecuador, and study and practice writing of place via creative nonfiction and other modes of daily writing.

Independent Study (Honors 397, 2 credits)

The independent study component consists of cultural or historic theme writing related to Ecuador as well as development of a proposal for a specific future sustainable project in Ecuador. The specifics of independent study will be proposed by each student and approved by Program Leaders.

Program costs are approximately $4,100. Costs include tuition and housing. Costs do not include airfare and spending money for food and other items, approx $25-40/day.

Bamboo house

There will be three distinct housing arrangements. Beyond a variety of hosterias during travel, the first will be homestays that are arranged by CEDEI in Cuenca. All homestay locations are thoroughly screened by CEDEI staff. The second will be at a hosteria in Guayaquil near the Universidad Casa Grande. The third will be at a hosteria in San Cristobal.


Chuck Henry
Senior Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences


Elena Olsen
Adjunct Faculty, English

Students may use their regular financial aid and scholarship funds for study abroad. The exception is any scholarship in the form of a tuition waiver. Tuition waivers cannot be used to pay study abroad program fees. You may want to check with the Office of Student Financial Aid in Schmitz Hall for more information.

There are funding opportunities through the Global Opportunities Program, and the Office of International Programs and Exchanges also maintains a funding opportunities list.

IP&E Refund Policy

A $350 deposit is required at the time of acceptance. This $350 deposit is non-refundable. Any student withdrawing from the program within 4 months of the program start date will be responsible for a minimum of 25% of the total program fee. In addition, there may be other unrecoverable fixed program costs. Any student withdrawing from the program within 2 months of the program start date will be responsible for 50% of the total program fee. Any student withdrawing from the program within 1 month of the program start date will be responsible for 75% of the total program fee. Withdrawal after a program begins involves the loss of the entire program fee.

Once accepted to the program in order to formally withdraw, you must do the following, in writing:

  • Contact the program directors.
  • Submit a signed IPE Withdrawal Form to the UW Office of International Programs and Exchanges.
  • Provide notice in writing to the program director that you will no longer be participating in the program for which you have signed a contract and accepted a slot.

Your withdrawal date is considered the date (business day) your withdrawal paperwork is received by the UW Office of International Programs and Exchanges.

The program is designed to serve Honors students of all disciplines who have an interest in sustainability and writing. Students not currently participating in the Honors Program are also encouraged to apply, especially from the Environmental Science and Environmental Studies programs at UWB, Program on the Environment and English Department.

Selection to the program is competitive and acceptance into the program will be decided based on application materials, interviews, and student's demonstrated motivation to challenge themselves intellectually across academic disciplines and cultures and to work both individually and in groups.

Apply through the IP&E website »
Due date (extended): February 15, 2012