Latitude Zero: Ecuador and the Galápagos

Latitude Zero: Ecuador and the Galápagos is a Northeastern University Dialogue of Civilizations Summer Program running Summer 1, 2023. For more information, contact David Tamés at



Ecuador is a country renowned for its high biodiversity divided into four regions, each with unique landscapes: Andes, Coast, Amazon, and Galápagos.  Beyond its natural biodiversity, the country has fifteen different indigenous nationalities rich in culture and traditions. This program will immerse you into the country’s rich cultural and natural context through observation, interpretation, and creative collaboration with local media makers. The program is based on two-way knowledge exchange through your engagement with local media makers and communities on the mainland. During field trips, you will apply your achieved knowledge to appreciate and capture the natural attractions and social complexities of continental Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands.


ARTE 2500 Studio: Writing with a Camera in Ecuador

Instructor: David Tamés (Art + Design)

Using photography, sound, and video, you will investigate how we structure visual and sound elements to communicate specific ideas about culture and nature. Through site-specific studio work, you will examine the role of time in viewing, thinking, and expression as you respond to the natural environment and cultural landscape of Quito (the capital city), Cumbayá, Mindo Cloud Forest Reserve, Otavalo, and the Galápagos Islands. Specific projects structure the exploration and expression of ideas. You will observe a wide range of ecosystems and geography; some of the work will involve collaboration with indigenous media makers focusing on cultural identity. There is no pre-requisite; essential production and post-production techniques and applied media aesthetics of photography, sound, and video will be introduced.

ARTD 3000 Topics in Media Arts: Observing Nature’s Patterns and Processes in Ecuador

Instructors: David Tamés (Art + Design) and Dr. Jerónimo Pan (Research Scientist, MyC, National Research Council (CONICET, Argentina))

Like few others, Ecuador is a small country on a big continent, rich in culture, biodiversity, and geography. This course will immerse you in the region’s natural history, promoting an appreciation of its flora, fauna, and landscapes through an evolutionary and ecological approach. Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands have played a significant role in the development of modern science and the appreciation of natural processes through the lens of the expeditions of Alexander von Humboldt in 1802 and the visit of 22-year-old Charles Darwin in 1835. Much in the same way the country inspired these bright minds and influenced the way we understand nature today, you will investigate nature as an interconnected global force, engaging in scientific observation, sketch journaling, poetic narrative, and co-creating a media project with regional research scientists, as you learn about evolution, ecology, conservation, and the challenges we face with human-induced climate change.


  • May 8: First Day of Summer I Term
  • May 8 – May 14: Pre-departure activities (you may complete these activities anywhere you like), includes pre-departure meeting 3 of 3 via Zoom, and complete assignments before your flight to Quito
  • May 15: Travel to Quito (Air: x => UIO): the in-country portion of the program begins
  • May 16 (Quito, Home Stays): Welcome and Health and Safety Orientation, Group Lunch
  • May 17 – 25 (Quito, Home Stays): Classes, Workshops, and Excursions to the Colonial Center of Quito, Teleferico, and El Panecillo

  • May 26 Travel to Mindo Cloud Forest, including a visit to Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve on the way
  • May 26 – 28 (Mindo, Ecolodge): Excursions to Mariposeria, Waterfalls, and a Night Nature Observation Walk

  • May 29: Travel to Otavalo, including a visit to Quitsato Observatory on the actual latitude zero line (on way to Otavalo)
  • May 29 – June 3 (Otavalo, Hotel): Media Co-Creation Project working with APAK (Asociación de Productores Audiovisuales Kichwa) and community representatives; Day off coincides with the famous Otavalo Market Day

  • June 4 (Quito, Home Stay): Prepare for travel to Galapágas Islands
  • June 5: Travel to San Cristobal Island (Air: UIO => SCY), Welcome, Orientation, and Group Lunch

  • June 5 – 11 (San Cristobal Island, Hotel): Classes, Workshops, and Excursions to Interpratation Center, Isla Lobos, Local Hacienda, USFQ Research Station
  • June 12: Travel to Santa Cruz Island (Speedboat)
  • June 13 (Santa Cruz Island, Hotel): Group I: Day Trip to Bartolomé including snorkeling; Group II: Day Trip to North Seymour Island, including snorkeling

  • June 14 (Santa Cruz Island, Hotel): AM: Charles Darwin Center; PM: Evolution Activity

  • June 15 (Santa Cruz Island, Hotel): Group I: Day Trip to North Seymour Island, Group II: Day Trip to Bartolomé including snorkeling

  • June 16: Travel to Quito (Air: GPS => UIO)
  • June  16 – 20 (Quito, Home Stays): Complete project work for ARTE 2500 and ARTD 3000

  • June 21 (Quito, Home Stays): AM: Finishing touches on work to be shown; PM: Reception and Public Exhibition of Student Work
  • June 22: Travel (Air: UIO => x); program ends