Engaging with the Américas: The Galápagos Islands

June 19 - 27, 2023
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Application Deadline

The application deadline has passed. To learn about future programs for educators, join the CLAS For Educators mailing list.

Reduced Cost + Financial Aid

  • With generous funding from Generosity in Action, the program cost has been further reduced to $2,500.
  • CLAS can provide up to $500 per teacher in educator travel awards.
  • Applicants working at a low-income public school in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Santa Clara, San Francisco, or San Mateo County can apply to the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation Environmental Sciences Resource Grants for up to $500.
Photo of St-Barthélémy Island, Galapagos, coastline. By Nathalie Marquis on Unsplash

Become a student again in the ultimate outdoor classroom: the enchanted islands of the Galápagos.

Join CLAS in summer 2023 for this once-in-a-lifetime professional development institute led by William (Bill) Durham, Bing Professor in Human Biology (Emeritus) and author of Exuberant Life: An Evolutionary Approach to Conservation in Galapagos (2021).

This unique opportunity is designed to support the 2016 Science Framework for California Schools and to provide a wealth of material for high school and community college teachers of natural and social sciences.  We offer a summer institute that explores pivotal sites and species that have shaped our understanding of ecology, conservation, ecosystems, genetics, biological evolution, and natural selection.

We will travel as an intimate group of educators aboard a chartered boat, visiting several of the Galápagos’ volcanic islands and observing many of the same species that Charles Darwin observed on the way to his revolutionary theory of evolution, and even some that he didn't! Participants will enjoy daily lectures and discussions with Professor Durham and local naturalist guides. In addition, educators will engage in pedagogy and curriculum planning to incorporate the learning experience into their curricula.

Optional activities include snorkeling amid sea lions, marine iguanas, and Galapagos penguins in the clear waters, sitting face to face with giant tortoises and Darwin’s finches, and learning the mating behaviors of blue-footed boobies and flightless cormorants.

Faculty Lead


Bill Durham with a red parrot on his shoulder in front of a greenery background. in front of Photo by Claire Menke


William (Bill) Durham, Bing Professor in Human Biology, Emeritus, and Yang and Yamazaki University Fellow, Emeritus. Following his undergraduate studies at Stanford, Bill received his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan in 1977. Ever since, he has been jointly appointed on the faculty of Human Biology and Anthropology at Stanford.

Bill’s career has focused on two main themes (1) putting principles of evolution to work in understanding and sustaining biological and cultural diversity in the world today; and (2) identifying the social dimensions of contemporary environmental problems and working with local people to help solve them. He has carried out field work in Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador (especially Galápagos) in South America, and in El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, and Costa Rica in Central America. In 1983, he was one of the first recipients of the MacArthur Prize Fellowship and has also received five awards for research and teaching at Stanford, including one by vote of the students.

Bill was invited to design the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, as well as the Center for Responsible Travel in Washington D.C. where he served for a decade as Co-Founder and Co-Director. He served sixteen years as editor of the Annual Review of Anthropology and is currently Co-Director of the Osa and Golfito Initiative (INOGO) in Costa Rica for the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford.

Bill’s most recent publication, Exuberant Life: An Evolutionary Approach to Conservation in Galápagos (2021), was awarded a silver medallion as Finalist for the 2022 PROSE Award from the Association of American Publishers.

Bill’s favorite hobbies are photography, fossil collecting (which dates to childhood), and cooking.

Program Details

Sea turtle swimming in blue water. Photo by Dustin Haney on Unsplash


June 19-27, 2023

Participants must arrive in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on June 19. Program activities will start in Guayaquil early morning on June 20 and end in Guayaquil early morning on June 27.


Galápagos Islands, preceded by a day in Guayaquil, Ecuador


Designed for high school and community college educators of natural and social sciences. Space is limited to 15 educators to ensure a personalized learning opportunity.

Continuing Education Units

6 quarter units (60 hours of instruction) through Stanford Continuing Studies

Registration fee: $2,500*

  • Applicants with financial aid need:
    • Applicants with financial need and working in less-funded school districts are eligible to apply for supplemental financial aid. Funding is made available through the U.S. Department of Education Title VI Grant. Funding is limited. See Financial Aid Application below.
    • Applicants working at a low-income public school in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Santa Clara, San Francisco or San Mateo County should look into the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation Environmental Sciences Resource Grants.
  • Registration fees cover lodging; breakfast and lunch on land days; breakfast, lunch, and dinner on boat days; and ground, air, and water transportation while in Ecuador.
  • Registration fees do not include participant travel to and from the program start/end at the hotel in Guayaquil, Ecuador. This must be coordinated and paid by the participant.
  • Registration fees do not include dinner on land days or incidental costs such as passport fees, travel medical insurance, immunizations†, etc.

*Highly subsidized price as a result of generous funding from the the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Generosity in Action, and U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center grant funding.
† Participants are responsible for ensuring they have the appropriate immunizations for the destination.

Application Process

Application Deadline

Educators wishing to submit an application or financial aid request after February 22 should reach out to clasoutreach [at] stanford.edu (subject: Gal%C3%A1pagos%20institute) (clasoutreach[at]stanford[dot]edu).

Online application

  • Note: Google account sign-in is required to submit the application form.
  • Applicant profile information
  • Resume (upload)
  • A 300-500 word statement of interest (type in electronic form or upload)
    Applicant: The statement of interest should address why you are interested in the program, what makes you a good candidate, and how you plan to synthesize the knowledge and experience gained from this institute to maximize the benefits to your classroom, school, and district.

Letter of reference

  • Letter of reference should be written by a person in the position to evaluate the applicant, such as a principal, chair, advisor, or supervisor.
  • Letters should address the applicant’s ability to integrate observations, data collected, and readings into lessons; develop curriculum materials; train other teachers in the school district or at workshops and conferences; contribute to the group experience in regard to interpersonal and group-living skills; and/or engage with students.
  • Letters must include letterhead and a signature and be uploaded at the link provided.

Financial Aid Application (optional)

The online financial aid application form requires the following information:

  • Statement of Financial Need (type or paste into form): Explain why you are requesting financial assistance. Include information such as the professional development funding available through your school or district, what portion of the institute you are paying out of pocket, additional funding sources you have pursued (e.g. school or district funding, grant funding, local organizations near your work such as Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, Garden Clubs, etc.), and any special circumstances, extraordinary expenses, or additional information pertinent to why you are applying for financial assistance. (Maximum 1500 characters)
  • Budget (upload): Estimated total expenses and proposed costs to be covered by this award. Must indicate amount of financial assistance being provided by applicant's school/district/institution or other source, even if the amount is $0.

Applications will be reviewed by a review committee appointed by the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford University.  Applicants will be contacted in early March with a decision.

All qualified applicants will be considered in accordance with Stanford University's Nondiscrimination Policy.  

Supplemental Materials

Supplemental materials are due March 15, 2023, after being accepted to the institute, processed through the Center for Latin American Studies. Submitted electronically.

  • Copy of valid passport (with expiration date more than 6 months after the institute dates) or confirmation that passport application has been submitted
  • Signed Stanford Materials Release Form
  • Signed Stanford International Travel Waiver
  • Proof of international travel insurance (insuremytrip, "Comprehensive" coverage is required)
  • A non-refundable deposit of $500 (paid by credit card or check) 

Registration Fee balance of $2000 is due April 1, 2023 (paid by credit card or check).

Payments being made by check should be made out to Stanford University and mailed to

Center for Latin American Studies
c/o Molly Aufdermauer, Public Engagement Coordinator
582 Alvarado Row
Stanford, CA 94305-8545

Applicant is responsible for confirming receipt of all application materials.

Withdrawal/Cancellation Policies

Participant Withdrawal Policy

If, for any reason, an accepted participant chooses to withdraw from the institute, the participant must notify the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) by email to clasoutreach [at] stanford.edu (clasoutreach[at]stanford[dot]edu). The program deposit is non-refundable. However, the participant may elect to use the cost of the deposit toward the fees of another CLAS teacher institute or workshop within a year. Program fees, exclusive of deposit, are refundable if CLAS receives the participant's written notification prior to the withdrawal deadline of April 8, 2023. If the participant withdraws from the institute after the withdrawal deadline, there are no refunds.

Institute Cancellation Policy

If the institute is canceled by CLAS for any reason, CLAS will be in touch with the participants directly regarding full refunds.

Program Contact

Molly Aufdermauer
Public Engagement Coordinator
Center for Latin American Studies
email: clasoutreach [at] stanford.edu (clasoutreach[at]stanford[dot]edu)
tel: 650-721-5530