Learning Abroad Center
Student with Ecuadorian family outside their home

Health in Ecuador: History, Environment, & Culture

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 humans 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 strategies to meet the goals. Ecuador is home to an amazing array of cultural, biological, and geographic diversity. It is an ideal location to use historical and cultural contexts to examine how the SDGs will help improve health for all. 

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. Health challenges have changed over time to include issues related to agriculture, access to culturally relevant care, and more.

Course Description

During the first half of the spring semester at the University of Minnesota, you will gain an understanding of the health systems in Ecuador, the US, and Minnesota, and learn about the challenges and opportunities of addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Ecuador compared to the US and/or Minnesota. 

You will work in teams that focus on a Sustainable Development Goal throughout the semester. In preparation for the time in Ecuador, you will also learn very basic Spanish words and phrases. Through talking 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, 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:


  • Public or private hospital
  • Mitad del Mundo City and Museum
  • Colonial Quito tour
  • Visit to San Clemente


  • Paramo Cayambe Coca reserve
  • Thermas Papallacta
  • CINCA Agroecological Center

Otavalo & Cotacachi

  • Hospital visit
  • Indigenous ceremony
  • Flower plantation
  • Visit to Tabacundo


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 member Fred Williams (Career Counselor) and Karin Hamilton, DVM, MPH, Coordinator and Instructor, Global Programs, Pre-Health Student Resource Center.

Karin has extensive experience working globally in 22 countries in health fields and has led multiple student programs to Thailand, Panama, and India related to global health, interprofessional/One Health, and intercultural development.

Program Structure

Program Level
3000-level course

One 3-credit course

Course Schedule

This is an on-campus class during spring semester. Abroad term takes place during Spring Break 2025.

On-campus Spring semester 2025 course meets: Tuesdays, January 21–April 1, 2025 from 2:30–4:25 p.m.

Students from other UofM campuses

There is an option to participate in the on-campus portion remotely. Reach out to the program leaders to confirm. You will need to work with your academic adviser and campus enrollment office and do a Multi-I enrollment for this program. There may be additional or different tuition owed as part of the program fee.


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.

Receive credit for: AHS 3004

Liberal Education Fulfillments: Global Perspectives

Syllabus for AHS3004—Health in Ecuador: Humans, Animals, & Ecosystems (PDF)


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
  • #3 Good Health and Wellbeing
  • #15 Life on Land

While numerous SDGs will be discussed during this course, the four SDG’s above will be the focus of lectures by local health professionals and experts, as well as the onsite field experiences to see the SDGs in action. You will complete a final small group project looking into one of these SDGs.

Dates Details

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

TermProgram DatesApplication Deadline
Spring Break 2025March 7–March 16, 2025December 1, 2024

Important Note: This program departs for Ecuador on Friday, March 7. 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.


On Campus Dates

Tuesdays, January 21–April 1, 2025 from 2:30–4:25 p.m., East Bank

Orientation Dates & Locations

Orientation will be conducted in 2 parts: an online orientation—which is mandatory—and in-person or online program-specific session with program leader(s). All meetings are required and failure to complete the online orientation will impact your ability to go abroad. The online orientation module is found on your application checklist and is due by your first orientation session.

You will be notified of the official date and time of required orientation sessions or will be contacted to send availability in order to schedule sessions. Reach out to your program leader directly for any concerns about orientation session date and times. You will receive applicable orientation materials from your program leader either in advance or after the orientation session(s).



Spring Break 2025 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 $5,600–$5,800. You must also budget for visa, passport and passport photos, meals not included (most are included), spending money, and miscellaneous activities.

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.

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.

This program is considered part of spring enrollment for the purposes of registration and financial aid.

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

Health in Ecuador: Humans, Animals, & Ecosystems

Spring Break 2024

Program Fee

  • UofM students pay program fee instead of on-campus tuition & fees while abroad
  • Billed through UofM account
Non-refundable deposit $400
Tuition and educational costs $3,295
International health insurance $26
Housing and/or mealsBreakfast, welcome and farewell meals, as well as a few group meals are included. $724
Transportation (if required and included in program fee)Group flight $1,075
Total Program Fee $5,520
Program discount for University of Minnesota and Big Ten students, if applicable $0
Total Program Fee with discount, if applicable $5,520

Estimated Additional Expenses

  • Financial aid-eligible but not included in program fee
Costs Typically Incurred Prior to Departure These costs may need to be paid before your financial aid is disbursed for your term abroad.
Transportation to and from program site $0
Passport/photos $150
Visa/required documents $0
Travel clinic/immunizations*Consult with your provider or travel clinic for recommendations $50
Housing deposit $0
Total Estimated Cost Incurred Prior to Departure $200
Costs Typically Incurred After Arrival in Host Country
Texts/materials $50
Housing and/or meals not included in program fee $250
Essential daily living expensesphone charges, etc. $150
Total Estimated Cost Incurred After Arrival in Host Country $450

Total Estimated Cost of Participation

  • UofM students—compare this to your estimated on campus cost of attendance
Total Estimated Cost of Participation $6,170
Spending money and personal travel Not included in financial aid calculation $150
Additional Notes & Information
* Immunizations Note: This estimate is based on approximate cost of travel-related vaccinations and medications required for entry or recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your costs may be higher or lower depending on your travel clinic, the specific immunizations and medication prescribed, and your insurance coverage.


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.


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

  1. After you complete all required application checklist items, you will receive an automated email message indicating your application is ready to be reviewed.
  2. Your completed application will be reviewed by the Learning Abroad Center.
  3. If admitted, the Confirmation & Payment Agreement form will be added to your checklist. Complete this form to secure your spot on the program. By submitting the form, you also give your approval for the program deposit to be billed to your UofM student account.
  4. Complete the confirmation checklist, which include the following items in additional to program-specific forms:
    • Passport Information
    • Emergency Contacts
    • Health Information Form
    • Online Health & Safety Orientation
    • Release & Waiver
  5. You will receive information about additional steps from the sponsoring college/department.

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 at [email protected], or call at 612.625.8827