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Universidad San Francisco de Quito

The Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) was founded in 1988 as the first fully private university in Ecuador and has earned recognition from the government as one of the top three universities in the country. UNC-Chapel Hill and USFQ have worked closely to develop research and academic opportunities for students and faculty centered in the Galápagos Islands. The partnership began in 2006 through individual faculty collaborations and was solidified in 2011 with the dedication of the Galápagos Science Center on San Cristóbal Island.

Research in the Galápagos focuses on the impacts and interactions among the social, terrestrial and marine sub-systems of the islands’ fragile ecosystems. The range of faculty and researchers engaged reflects the diverse research undertaken and the emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration: anthropology, biology, city and regional planning, computer science, dentistry, economics, environmental sciences and engineering, geography, geological sciences, journalism, marine sciences, nutrition, political science, public policy, and sociology. The center also provides education and outreach to the community and engages in research and service to benefit the area.

Students from both universities attend study abroad programs at the center that encourage movement between the classroom, field and laboratory. Since 2011, more than 170 Carolina students have studied in Galápagos programs, and a number of graduate students have conducted research. More than 200 UNC-Chapel Hill students have also studied at USFQ’s main campus in Quito since 2004, and an exchange was started in 2009 to bring USFQ students to UNC-Chapel Hill.

In recent years, the partnership has been expanding beyond the Galápagos to collaborations in education, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, and dentistry. A number of UNC-Chapel Hill and USFQ faculty are adjunct professors at the other university, serve on graduate committees, and co-teach study abroad programs.

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