Ecuador Field School: Sustainable Livelihoods and Global Environmental Change

Students in Ecuador posing for group shot with GSO Icons - this field school is eligible for GSO funding


Please note: While CIP is hopeful that Field Schools will be able to run in Summer 2022, we are monitoring the COVID-19 situation carefully and will keep students updated if we are not able to offer any of the Field Schools.  


The Ecuador Field School explores the prospects for sustainability and development in Ecuador, one of the world's most biodiverse countries on the planet. Ecuador was the first country in the world to incorporate "rights of nature" into its constitution, and it has received considerable international attention for its commitment to good living or "buen vivir." At the same time, it remains highly dependent upon oil, gas and mineral exports. This course explores the challenges and prospects for diversifying and developing alternative livelihoods that are able to break the cycle of resource dependence in the extractive sector. By visiting local and Indigenous communities in the highlands and the Ecuadorian cloud forest, students will gain firsthand experiences and insights about the ways in which alternative models of sustainable development may be adopted in practice. 


This international field school is open to students from all disciplines at the University of Guelph, but may be of particular interest to undergraduate and graduate students in International Development Studies, Environmental Governance, Environmental Sciences, Food and Resource Economics, Rural Studies, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Geography and other programs with a focus on resources, livelihoods, sustainability and the environment.

Information Session

Thursday, October 28
5:30 – 6:45 pm
Mackinnon 231

Students can also join the presentation virtually through MS Teams:
Click here to join the meeting

Field School Details

  • Instructor: Dr. Craig Johnson, Political Science
  • Offered: Summer 2022 (Previously: Summer 2019)
  • Prerequisite: 7.5 credits or permission of the instructor, 68% cumulative average,
  • A (tentative) course outline can be found a the bottom of this page
  • If you have any questions about the program, please contact Dr. Johnson.

Program Dates (tentative)

May 12-25, 2022

  • Three classes on U of G campus pre-departure
  • 14 days in Ecuador


Students will be registered in 1.0 credits at the third-year level. 

The school will commence with a 3-day pre-departure seminar series that examines the politics, history and cultural meaning of sustainability, Indigenous identity and experiential learning in the Andean context. This will be followed by an 18-day field visit, in which students will live and engage in local case studies in Quito (the national capital), Intag, Amazonia and Chimborazo, the latter of which are areas that are experiencing profound environmental and socio-economic transformation resulting from processes of urbanization, agricultural intensification, mining, deforestation, and climate change. Through lectures, seminars, readings and participatory field visits, the course will provide an opportunity to engage in critical discussions about the nature of sustainability and development in one of the world’s most ecologically-fragile regions. By focusing particularly on highland ecosystems and local/Indigenous perspectives (sumak kawsay), it will offer critical insights into the challenge of understanding and sustaining livelihoods in this rapidly changing socio-ecological context.  


Students should budget for the following:

  • Round-trip airfare to Ecuador
  • Tuition and fees at the University of Guelph for 1.0 credits
  • The Ecuador Field School fee: approximately $3500 which covers the following in Ecuador - accommodations, most meals, all transportation in-country, admission fees for venues. This amount is subject to change based on the fluctuating exchange rate.
  • Mandatory travel health and emergency insurance through the company Guard Me ($1.65 / day)
  • Personal expenses (food, additional personal travel, etc) 

Global Skills Opportunity LogoTravel Grants

Students participating in this Field School, who identify as an Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, Métis) student, a student registered with Student Accessibility Services, and/or have demonstrated financial need are eligbile to apply for the GSO Travel Grant. There are also other University of Guelph travel grants available.  


Students applying for the program must have completed a total of 7.5 undergraduate credits by the time the program begins in May 2022 (or permission from the instructor) and must have a 68% cumulative average. (Students with a 65 - 67% cumulative average may be considered if there are extenuating circumstances that affected their marks which are described on their application.)

The program is open to students from all disciplines at the University of Guelph, with a maximum of 20 students being accepted to the program. 

Apply to the Ecuador Field School

To get access to the extended deadline application, please complete the following form.

Application Instructions

Students on the Ecuador Field School

File attachments

PDF icon IFS_S22_Course_Outline_.pdf214.28 KB