The University of Miami is IOI's largest and longest standing partner. The mission of UM's study abroad office of the university is “to promote and foster international education and multicultural understanding” and that is exactly what the partnership with IOI provides. Each fall and spring semester, IOI turns into a U-on-location site, hosting the so called UGalapagos program. The UGalapagos program is an exciting semester study abroad program that takes UM students faculty to IOI for a field-oriented semester of study. UM is offering a full six-course (17-18 credit) semester in the Spring and Fall tailored to the needs and interests of students majoring in marine science and ecosystem sciences, biology and pre-med. Courses are taught sequentially as intensive two-week experiences by UM faculty experts.

The multifaceted program is expressly designed to help UM students understand the evolutionary and ecological processes that have driven development of a unique ecosystem. Likewise, a cultural immersion through facilitated home-stays, civic engagement and social studies projects is expressly designed to foster the student’s understanding of non-ecological pressures and the crucial interplay of social structures with conservation. The program arcs from social sciences to hard sciences and concepts learned in each course are illuminated by hands-on field learning in a program that foster critical thinking.

UGalapagos program supplies a deliberate structure across courses and by assuring significant engagement with the community and the environment and UM faculty supply an overt conceptual overlay, outlined in UM’s Civic Engagement rubric, to help students achieve meaningful engagement with the Galapagos people and environment. Reinforcing the integrative approach, UGalapagos students live in home with one of the IOI’s wonderful host families and get to truly immerse themselves in the culture of this beautiful island.