One of the goals of a liberal arts education is to expose students to a variety of approaches to learning.Some web sites you may find useful as you plan for our trip:
Two of the seemingly most disparate of these learning styles are in the humanities and natural sciences.
The former uses a variety of competing approaches to understand our place in the world, whereas the latter
uses the scientific method. What is often not stressed are the commonalities in these approaches, in particular
the creative process. Just as a poet creates images and emotions in our mind, the scientist creates testable
hypotheses from observations. The epitome of this creative process was demonstrated by Charles Darwin
when he formulated his hypothesis of natural selection to explain microevolution. Darwin's hypothesis was
influenced by his grandfather's poetry on the origin of life, economic theory of competition in the market place,
geology's immense time and slow gradual change, as well as by the results of selective breeding to produce
more useful and beautiful organisms. Darwin synthesized all of these ideas with a grand creative leap when
he hypothesized that natural selection drives microevolution through differential reproductive success.
The goal of the Dickinson in the Galápagos program is to develop this creative process in the students. We will
do this by actually going to the place where Darwin made his grand creative leap and began the formulation of
his hypothesis: the Galápagos Islands. While in the Galápagos, students will keep a natural history diary of their
observations of the organisms and their interaction with the environment. These observations will then be used in
two classes back on the Dickinson campus to hone the process of natural history writing and to understand the
role of geology in evolutionary processes on the islands. These skills of creative thinking, clear concise writing, and
construction of testable hypotheses are skills that will be extremely useful to liberally educated students.
The courses we will take following our return from the Pacific are:
English 212: Writing About the Galápagos.
This class will begin with our journey to the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador.
While in the archipelago, students will read a variety of articles and handouts related to Charles Darwin’s
explorations of the islands in the 1830s and to current Galápagos research. Students will keep a daily naturalist’s
journal while traveling. In the following semester, students will use their field journals as the basis for writing
exercises and essays designed to improve their skills as expository writers. The class will also read extracts
from Darwin’s Galápagos Journals and On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.
Geology 311: Geology and Evolution in the Galápagos
The Galápagos Islands had a profound impact on Darwin's developing ideas about coral reef development
and natural selection. Following our field trip to the Galápagos, this course will investigate the islands' geology
(e.g., the relationships between volcanoes, marine animals, coral reefs, and limestone) and biology
(e.g., comparative anatomy, endemism, speciation, and extinction). We will compare Darwin's original texts
to modern sources to see how well his ideas have survived.
Texts for these two spring semester classes will include:
Darwin, Edited by Appleman, A Norton Critical Edition
Galápagos Wildlife: A Visitors Guide, by David Horwell and Pete Oxford, Bradt/Globe Pequot Press
Darwin and the Science of Evolution by Patrick Tort, Discoveries/Harry Abrams
The Pocket Handbook (for writers), Second Edition, by Kirszner and Mandell, Thomson/Heinle
Galápagos by John Kricher, Smithsonian
All of the students who participate in this program will study the Galápagos Islands and experience nature
there as Darwin did. We will see one of the most remarkable natural and ecologically sensitive sites on earth,
islands which are home to species found nowhere else on the planet: giant tortoises, marine iguanas, breeding
albatrosses, blue-footed boobies. Students will travel with a geology professor and an English professor and
will learn techniques of careful observation, record keeping, scientific method, nature writing, and creative as
well as critical thinking. We will snorkel with sea lions and reef sharks, climb volcanoes in tropical cloud-forests
filled with orchids, epiphytes, and countless species of birds, including Darwin’s revolutionary finches (13 species).
Our field study will also include three days in Quito, Ecuador, where will will explore a Spanish colonial city
located at an altitude of 9,000 feet, a trip to the equator itself--where we will stand with one foot in the northern
hemisphere and the other foot in the southern hemisphere--and visit an indigenous market in the high Andes.
These marine iguanas are the only ocean-going lizards in the world. They are found solely on these
islands and in the surf around them. Their colors--they are called Christmas lizards by the locals--are
the result of mineral pigments in their food. Birds are the only other class of animals that express the
colors of their diet directly in their pigmentation (i.e. their feathers). This is part of the evidence for
a clear evolutionary link between dinosaur reptiles and our current "dinosaurs": the birds.
Land tortoises on the Galápagos fill the ecological niche ordinarily occupied by large mammals.
They were slaughtered by the thousands in earlier centuries. Now they are a protected species,
and numerous research groups are working to assure their long-term survival.
Several captive breeding stations provide nurseries for a variety of races of the giant tortoise.
The climate on the archipelago is remarkably varied, from very arid conditions at low altitude (above)
to tropical cloud forests (rain forests caused by cloud cover) higher up the volcanic slopes of many
of the islands.
Darwin only spent five weeks on these islands, but the observations he made, the notes he took,
and the conclusions he began to draw about natural selection have had a profound influence on
modern science and on humanity's view of its place in the natural world. Research into evolution,
natural selection, and speciation continues on the islands today. In addition, programs currently
underway work to preserve native plants and animals and insure the survival of threatened
A blue footed booby . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .and a brown sandalled professor.
This picture was taken while standing on the equator, from which Ecuador gets its name. One foot
in the northern hemisphere, one foot in the southern: what a strange sensation!
Over 40% of all species here are unique to these islands. In the picture on the right you will notice one
of only 200 or so Galápagos hawks in existence. We saw two in four days.
Even the iguanas are tame. They have no natural predators, and they have not yet learned to be
afraid of humans.
GALAPAGOS: IMPORTANT INFORMATION (provided by Kleintours, Quito, Ecuador)
LOCAL TIME IN THE ISLANDS
The local time in Galapagos is GMT –6 (ONE HOUR LESS THAN THE CONTINENT)
In general, December to June are the warmest months. January to March can be hot and humid, but also mostly green at this time. July to November are cooler. The average year-round temperature is 24°C.
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN GALAPAGOS (FARENHEIT)
January 60 - 80 71 – 74
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN GALAPAGOS (CELCIUS)
January 16 - 27 22 – 23
WHAT TO BRING
Consider that the Galapagos Cruises are “nature seeking” cruises which include long walks, swimming, wet/dry landings, and other physical activities. Therefore, we advise you to bring comfortable breathable clothes, shorts, T-shirts, swimsuits and good hiking shoes are required to walk over the lava rock paths.
During the rainy season (from June to November) it is common to have a light rain called by locals “garua” and a raincoat or light jacket will be required for the evenings. Be advised that evening gowns and accessories are not necessary. At night/semiformal attire is advised.
To fully enjoy one of the sunniest and warmest spots of our planet, you should protect yourself with an effective sunscreen, a good hat with a brim, sunglasses, insect repellent, lip balm, eye drops, plastic bags for electronic equipment. Do not forget your camera, plenty of film and binoculars.
On the day before departure, either your guide or our operations department will reconfirm to you the picking up time at your hotel in order to go to the airport on time at the counter of TAME AIRLINES, to take the flight to Baltra airport in the Galapagos. Checking in time is 2 HOURS BEFORE DEPARTURE.
At the airport you will be met by our Galapagos Representative who will have the roundtrip tickets and vouchers for the ship. You will also receive an identification that you need to put on your chest so you may be easily identified upon arrival at Baltra airport. You will be welcomed by our cruise staff who will collect the return airtickets from you as well as your vouchers for the cruise. You will be then transferred from the airport to board the ship. Your luggage will be automatically placed at your assigned cabin.
Galapagos National Park Rules and Regulations
As part of the National Park´s regulations, a naturalist guide will accompany you during the whole visit to the islands. He will thoroughly inform you about what a visitor is allowed or not to do. We need you to follow the rules in order to preserve the paradise you are enjoying for the future generations to come.
• Do not remove or disturb any plant, rock or animal on the islands.
• Be careful not to transport any live material to the islands or from island to island. Check your clothing for seeds and insects before disembarking the ship for shore.
• Do not touch the animals.
• Do not feed the animals.
• Always remain on the path where designated.
• Always remain with your guide where required.
• Do not startle or chase any animal from its nest or resting place. Be extremely careful in and around breeding colonies.
• Do not force your way through dense bush or thickets. This will destroy the plant life and seeds may become lodged on your person.
• Do not litter on land or from the vessel whilst at sea.
• Do not buy souvenirs made from any native animal part, coral or plant except certain wood.
• Do not write graffiti or deface rocks and plants on the islands.
• Do not hesitate to show your conservationist attitude and explain to others the rules. Notify the National Park Service if you see any damage being done.
ELECTRICITY ON BOARD
110 volts, 60 cycles AC (Coral & Coral II)
PURCHASES AND PAYMENTS
Bar and boutique expenses have to be settled in cash or traveller cheques the day before the end of our cruise. If you are going to pay with a credit card please inform the purser upon arrival. We honour all major credit cards.
SMOKING ON BOARD
It is forbidden to smoke inside the yacht. Smoking is allowed ONLY on the sun decks. Please, never throw cigarette filters over-board.
• When special medications needed, be sure to take enough quantity with you.
• Our multilingual naturalists guides are able to provide you a complete information about the islands. Do not hesitate to approach them.
Galapagos is a paradise for snorkellers! If you do not have your own equipment, you may request it from the crew (or bring your own).
Travel PlansIt is your responsibility to get to Philadelphia Airport two hours before our departure time of 12:01 p.m. on
For your safety, the following rules must be followed :
• Listen carefully the guide’s instructions.
• Stay together with the group of snorkellers.
• If you do not feel comfortable in the water, always wear a life vest for your safety. You are also not required to snorkel.
Do not forget that currents can be treacherous in Galapagos.
Stay tuned for updates and more information.