By Brianna Williams, News Editor

Over spring break, a group of 22 UTC students and faculty members traveled to the Galapagos Islands for a week for the first time in university history.

The group’s trip functioned as a lab credit for the honors seminar “Darwin and science of the Galapagos Islands,” co-taught by Dr. Dawn Ford, Dr. David Pleins, and professor Sabrina Novak.

According to Ford, the course focused on theories in science related to island ecology, evolution, and a philosophical element of Darwin’s life and changing perspective while in the islands.

The designated Think Achieve course also highlighted Chancellor Angle’s priority of experiential learning, Ford said.

“Experiential learning is learning outside of the classroom–beyond the classroom.This is a perfect example,” Ford said. “We learned about a place and things in the classroom, and then went to that place and experienced it, and reflected upon it.”

In the Galapagos, students on the trip experienced an abundance of wildlife including sea lions, marine iguanas, frigatebirds, blue footed boobies, giant tortoises, lava lizards, sally lightfoot crabs, and numerous others, student Christina Buck recounted.

“I would say getting to see all of the wildlife in the Galapagos was my favorite part. It was so interesting to be able to see what you read about in books,” Buck said. “ I’ve learned so many things about biology and stuff like that, but it doesn’t really make that much of an impact until you actually see it in action.”

Other activities on the trip included visits to tortoise reserves, a lava tunnel, snorkeling and swimming with sea turtles and other marine life, kayaking with sharks, and observing wetland areas.

In addition to experiencing the island, students also had to focus on and observe specific species for their lab.

Buck’s group, whose task was to specifically study sea lions, took various photos, videos, notes, and observations of the creatures while in the islands.

According to Ford, this research students gained about their specific species throughout the trip will be used to develop group papers and posters for the remainder of the class, but it is what comes after the class that she said inspires her to plan trips like these.

“It’s what comes later, after the trip, is why I do this. These kinds of trips have great impact on students, and it usually is not immediate. Research has shown that the impact remains at a high impact even decades after a trip such as this,” Ford said.


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