New Courses


Special Topics Field Course: Ecology and Conservation in the Amazon, Andes and Cloud Forest

July 4 - July 31, 2022

This course examines fundamental concepts in ecology, evolution, biodiversity,geology and conservation biology through lectures and fieldwork in the highland,montane, and tropical ecosystems in Ecuador. The complex relations between theseenvironments and the people who depend on them will also be examined throughanalysis of the social, cultural, and economic transformations that have taken place in recent years.
1st week ENV395YO
The course begins with one week of virtual classes introducing students to Ecuador andthe various sites they will be exploring.
2nd - 4th weeks
  • Students travel to Ecuador and begin in Quito with orientations, lectures, and visits toold Quito and Mitad del Mundo.
  • They will then spend several days in the Andes highlands studying its unique flora andfauna, hiking around two active volcanoes, and examining the economy and culture ofthe indigenous mountain peoples.
  • Next, visit the cloud forest in the Mindo area to study tropical montane ecology, thewater cycle, and the unique flora and fauna of the Andean cloud forest.
  • The final course segment consists of eight days at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station,situated along one of the headwaters of the Amazon river, in one of the few remainingpristine rainforests in Ecuador.
  • The program concludes in Quito with cultural activities, a cooking class, a visit to thetraditional market at Otovalo and a farewell dinner.
Instructors: Barbara Murck and Christoph Richter
Host: Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ)
Apply by March 14, 2022
Earn a full-year U of T credit in4 weeks this summer!




JBH471H5S Worlds Colliding  JBH471h5s

Before 1492, no one in Europe ate tomatoes, no one in South America herded cattle, no one in Asia cooked with chili peppers, and no one in North America fell sick with influenza. The exchange of plants, animals, and microbes between the Americas and Afro-Eurasia in the wake of Christopher Columbus’ first voyage across the Atlantic forever changed the world’s histories and ecologies. In this course we will examine these changes, which created global systems and ecological challenges that continue to shape our world today.

This joint Biology-History seminar offers an engaging and interactive way to study how contacts from centuries ago continue to shape our world. We will combine the insights of historians and ecologists to understand what happened then, why it matters now, and how we can help make a better world in the future. The course is scheduled for the winter semester 2022, and lectures will be on Mondays 1-3pm.

Students may have the option of participating in an international learning experience to the Caribbean during Reading Week that will have an additional cost and application process. For more info on this opportunity, check here.

To apply, please complete this form ( by providing short responses to the following questions and by attaching your academic record. For full consideration, please submit your application by June 23, 2021. Initial offers will be made shortly after the deadline. If you have any questions about the course or application form, please contact the instructors:

For Biology students: Prof. Christoph Richter: 

For History students: Prof. Mairi Cowan:

  • map
  • worlds colliding