Winter or May Term off-campus study project related to a biological theme.
Winter Term informationKevin Kinney
183A: Galapagos: Natural Laboratories for Evolution (off-campus)
The Galapagos Islands occupy a unique place in biology that far exceeds their geographic span. These small volcanic islands were one of the stops made by Charles Darwin in 1835, as a part of his trip aboard the Beagle, the time when he is generally considered to have formed his initial thoughts on the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. What was it about these tiny islands that inspired Darwin? Just how central were they to his formulation of the Theory? Are the Galapagos central to evolutionary theory in general? These are some of the questions we will address through our study of the historical aspects of the Galapagos.
We will actually go to the Galapagos and see, firsthand, what all of the fuss is about. Biologists around the world comment that descriptions cannot do the locale justice. Armed with our new appreciation of the islands, we will tour several of the major islands. During tours on land and in the water, students will record their observations in writings and in pictures (much as Darwin did), and report on their observations and reactions to the rest of the class. Students will be expected to complete frequent individual responses to writings and discussions, as well as exercises in observation/documentation. Students will also prepare written and oral topics by researching the topics in somewhat more depth than the rest. Finally, students will prepare a more formal written account of their experiences and observations on the Islands, and present this upon their return.