Learning Abroad Center
Student with Ecuadorian family outside their home

Health in Ecuador: Humans, Animals, & Ecosystems

LAC Program

Learn about the intersection between human health and the environment by studying the history of health and culture of Ecuador.

Program Details

Quito, Ecuador
Spring Break
Languages Taught In
Languages Taught In

Program Eligibility

Student Type
Student Type
UofM Students
Student Year
Student Year


The future health of our world requires a generation of creative, motivated, strategic, and expansive thinkers prepared to collaborate across disciplines and sectors to proactively protect the health of human and animal populations and the environment in which they live. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) developed by the United Nations were created to help communities identify health priorities, and set obtainable strategies to meet the goals. Ecuador is an ideal location to incorporate historical and cultural contexts with an understanding of how the SDGs will help improve health for all. Ecuador is home to an amazing array of cultural, biological, and geographic diversity.

Historically, Ecuador was home to a wide range of Amerindian groups and the Inca Empire, later to be colonized by Spain and then becoming independent in 1830. During colonization, numerous new infectious diseases devastated parts of Ecuador and continues to have generational impacts on the health of some populations.

Course Description

During the first half of the spring semester at the University of Minnesota, you will learn about the challenges and opportunities of addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Ecuador while comparing and contrasting with the US and/or Minnesota, and gain a basic understanding of the health system in both countries.

You will work in teams that focus on a perspective of a Sustainable Development Goal throughout the semester. You will also learn very basic Spanish words and phrases in preparation for time in Ecuador. Through taking and learning about the Intercultural Development Inventory, as well as cultural development and reflection activities including Observe, Describe, Interpret, and Evaluate (ODIE), you will learn more about your own cultures while preparing to openly experience cultures in Ecuador.

Program Model


Housing & Meals

You will live in shared rooms with fellow program participants. Breakfast and welcome and farewell meals are included in the program fee. We will take additional meals in the housing or at local restaurants and eateries.


Excursions may include:


  • Private hospital
  • Mitad del Mundo City and Museum
  • Santo Domingo
  • Pambilino


  • Rural health center and hospital
  • Flower plantation
  • CINCA Agroecological Center


  • Hospital Western and Traditional
  • Indigenous ceremony
  • Paramo Cayambe Coca reserve
  • Thermas Papallacta
  • Santo Dominto de los Tsachilas
  • Malaria Prevention Center


All program participants will take the coordinated group flight to and from the program site. The cost of the group flight is included in the program fee that will be posted to your student account. Do not book your own flight; you will receive information from the Learning Abroad Center about your seat on the group flight once your participation has been confirmed.

Learning Outcomes

  • Define culture and related concepts and practices that will promote awareness of personal and cultural identity
  • Gain an understanding of how culture influences the health of humans, animals, and ecosystems
  • Describe the One Health approach, including the health professional career path options of various health practitioners involved in this approach
  • Give examples of connections between human, animal, and ecosystem health
  • Describe competencies needed for effective interprofessional teamwork
  • Compare and contrast the culture and health of humans, animals, and ecosystems in Ecuador and the US

Faculty & Staff

This seminar is co-led by Pre-Health Student Resource Center staff members Tricia Todd (Director) and Scott Simpson (Career Counselor).

Program Structure

Program Level
3000-level course

One 3-credit course

Course Schedule

This is an on-campus class during spring semester. On-campus Spring Semester 2024 course meets: Tuesdays from 2:30–4:25 p.m. on East Bank. Abroad term: Spring Break 2024.


Coursework will include journal entries and guided writing assignments throughout the semester to facilitate reflection on culture and health careers, as well as comparing aspects of human, animal, and ecosystem health in Ecuador with the US and/or Minnesota. As a final project, you will develop a digital story and present it to the class after returning from Ecuador.


The Learning Abroad Center is committed to sustainability and incorporating this into our programs. This course can be tied to multiple Sustainable Development Goals through course content and program activities including:

  • #1 No Poverty
  • #2 Zero Hunger
  • #8 Decent Work & Economic Growth
  • #15 Life on Land

Numerous SDGs will be discussed during this course. These will be focused on through lectures by local health professionals and experts, as well as field experiences to see the SDGs in action. Student teams will complete a final project looking into one of these SDGs.

Receive credit for: AHS 3004

Liberal Education Fulfillments: Global Perspectives

Dates Details

Submit the online application and complete the assigned application checklist according to the appropriate deadline:

TermProgram DatesApplication Deadline
Spring Break 2024March 1–March 10, 2024December 1, 2023

Important Note: This program departs for Ecuador on Friday, March 1. If you have any class on that date, you may need to miss them in order to travel.

Program dates are subject to change.

If the deadline falls on a weekend, submit your materials on the following business day.

Information Sessions

Join in-person or over Zoom. Register and learn more about this and other events on our events page.

Thurs., Sept. 282:00 p.m.Hybrid (Heller Hall 230C or Zoom)
Fri., Sept. 2912:00 p.m.Online (register for Zoom link)
Fri., Nov. 1712:00 p.m.Online (register for Zoom link)
Mon., Nov. 2012:30 p.m.Online (register for Zoom link)

On Campus Dates

Tuesdays, 2:30–4:25 p.m., East Bank

Orientation Dates & Locations

Orientation will be conducted in 2 parts: an online orientation, which is mandatory for all students, and an in-person, program-specific session. You will receive more information about the online orientation via email. Failure to complete the online orientation will impact your ability to go abroad.

See below for tentative dates and times for your in-person session. You will be notified of the official date and time via email. Participants will receive applicable orientation materials via email approximately 1 week prior to the in-person session.

Term AbroadDate/TimeLocation
Spring Break 2024TBDTBD


Spring Break 2024 Cost of Participation forthcoming

The cost of participation includes educational costs, group flight airfare, program administration, housing, most meals, international health insurance, entrances to course-related excursions and site visits, and local transportation. Generally, program fees range between $4,500–$5,500. You must also budget for visa, passport and passport photos, meals not included (most are included), spending money, and miscellaneous

Recent increases in international airfare and accommodation costs have impacted all instructor-led program fees. The LAC strives to follow best practices to provide the lowest cost program while ensuring a quality academic experience.

If you are registered for less than 13 credits, you will be charged tuition for this course in addition to the program fee. Notify the Learning Abroad Center if this applies to you.

Billing & Payments

Visit Billing for information about the billing process for application fees, deposits, and program fees.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Visit Financial Information for information on using financial aid and scholarships for study abroad.

Bridging Loan

Bridging Loan, a no-interest/no-fees loan that funds the upfront deposit and flights costs, is available for this program for eligible students.

Cancellation Policy

Before you apply to or confirm your participation on this program, review the Learning Abroad Center's Cancellation Policy to inform yourself of the timeline and financial obligations for canceling.

Spring Break 2024


Be aware: Learning Abroad Center programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.

COVID-19 Information

A COVID-19 vaccine & booster and negative COVID test before departure (own expense) may be required on arrival in country or at various venues in this location (based on current government and local policies). This may change before departure.

Participants are expected to follow local and governmental COVID-19 guidelines and requirements while abroad. Visit the CDC International Travel website and the LAC COVID Policies page for updated information.

US Consulate in Ecuador COVID-19 Information site (current updates on entry/exit and local requirements).

More information can be provided during advising sessions and pre-departure orientation with the program contact in the LAC.


The COVID-19 vaccine series is strongly recommended, pursuant to CDC guidelines, but not required for participation in this program.

You will be charged a $50 application fee for each application you submit.

Apply Now


After you submit your application, you will receive an email notification confirming that your application was received. Submitted applications are assigned an application checklist, which will include the following items:

  • Application Essay

Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist assigned to you.

Next Steps

After your application checklist is complete, your application is reviewed by our program team. You will be notified of an acceptance decision by email. If accepted, you will be assigned a confirmation checklist, which you will complete to confirm your participation in the program. If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application system and submit a Cancel Request.

Register for On-Campus Course

Your participation on this program is secured by applying and confirming through the Learning Abroad Center application process.

You will also need to register for the on-campus course AHS 3004.

Note: Registering for the course, but not confirming through the Learning Abroad Center, will not hold your spot in the program.

After You Apply

Before your program begins, review these resources.

Health & Safety

Learn more about staying healthy and safe abroad, including mental health and wellness, international travel insurance, and safety precautions.

Power of Attorney

Consider designating someone as your power of attorney to act as your legal representative while you’re abroad.

Student Identity

Consult our resources on student identities as you prepare for your abroad experience.

Travel Resources

Ready to go abroad? Our travel resources will help you pack and learn what to expect.

Program Contact

For further information or questions about this program, send an email to

Jemma Lund or call at 612.625.8827