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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Galapagos study abroad canceled for summer 2015

The+setting+sun+fills+the+sky+with+color+over+Fernandina+in+the+Galapagos+Islands.+%28Mary+Ellen+Botter%2FDallas+Morning+News%2FMCT%29
MARY ELLEN BOTTER
The setting sun fills the sky with color over Fernandina in the Galapagos Islands. (Mary Ellen Botter/Dallas Morning News/MCT)

A Summer Abroad trip to the Galapagos Islands specially designed for ecology and evolutionary biology majors was officially cancelled Tuesday.

Students majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology who need this class to fulfill a field component to complete their major had been attending informational sessions in anticipation for their summer 2015 trip to the Galapagos Islands, said Samantha Schuster, an anthropology and ecology and evolutionary biology junior.

In 2003, Katrina Mangin, director of the science education outreach department of ecology and evolutionary biology, and her colleague from the nature conservancy in New Mexico, Dave Gori, began creating a rigorous, 18-day, pre-planned experience in the Galapagos Islands.

In 2009, the UA Study Abroad and Global Initiatives department approached Mangin to help run the trip in conjunction with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Mangin would have ideally taught the summer course, but she said she decided not to teach the class this summer and was planning to go to Africa with her husband and some friends.

Mangin began recruiting students for the summer 2015 trip three years ago through her Marine Awareness and Conservation Society club, according to Schuster.

“I went to informational meetings with her,” Schuster said. “They’ve pitched for two years that they were offering it this year, because they were waiting for a big group of us to go.”

Schuster said she knew of at least 10 students from that club alone that planned on going to the trip this summer. According to Mangin’s website, a minimum of 10 students is required for the trip to happen.

Despite the ongoing recruitment process by Mangin and Jill Calderon, program director for Latin America Project Development for the Study Abroad Office, Calederon said she and Mangin “were surprised that there’s a sudden surge of interest in the program, considering that [Study Abroad] hasn’t specifically recruited for it. Besides the application and the website itself, there was no representation for the program at our study abroad fair.”

This lack of representation for the Galapagos trip at the Study Abroad Fair on Sept. 24 caught prospective students by surprise, which prompted them to email Mangin inquiring about the trip.

According the Schuster, “[Mangin] emailed one student and said that she was going to Africa, and that the trip isn’t happening anymore. She hasn’t responded to anyone else in over a week.”

Mangin said she knew she wouldn’t be teaching the summer course, since she made plans to do something with her husband.After Mangin had emailed one of the students about her trip to Africa, Calderon received an email from her that said she wouldn’t be teaching the program but will in summer 2016.

“She has basically indicated that next year she will be doing this program, and we have no reason to doubt that at this point,” Calderon said. “Mangin has indicated in the past that she’s got too many commitments to be able to do it, and we hear that a lot from professors who are overloaded with commitments, because they are important researchers in their field.”

Schuster has yet to hear back from Mangin as of the time of this writing, and is forced to change her major since this trip cancellation leaves her “a whole semester behind.”

Schuster had planned on going on the trip since her freshman year.

Mangin said she wished her co-teacher, Gori, could teach the summer program, but after reaching out, she realized he wasn’t available.

“I have had students who have told me that they were counting on it happening,” Mangin said, “and I told them that I was really sorry about that.”

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Follow Felipe Moreno on Twitter.

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