Faculty Leader: Alejandro Vagelli, Department of Biology

Travel Dates: Spring Break 2022

Class Meeting Times: TBD

Course Number: 56:120:599

Program Cost: Approximately $2,500*


This course will immerse students in a holistic learning experience on the natural history of coastal Patagonia. It will cover fundamental processes that explain the origin, patterns, and evolution of its biological diversity, as well as its present conservation challenges. It will help students to develop scientific skills by combining theoretical concepts with field activities that will take place within a wildlife refuge located in the Province of Chubut, Argentina. The refuge is managed by Fundación Patagonia Natural ( with the aims of preserving the coastal Patagonian steppe, conducting scientific research, and implementing conservation programs.  This ~ 6,700 ha conservation area is situated in the buffer zone of “Península Valdés,” an UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.

Students will survey coastal intertidal communities, learn about the Patagonian steppe ecology and wildlife monitoring techniques. Students will conduct paleontological surveys of the Mid-Late Miocene age, a rich assemblage of marine invertebrates and vertebrates, will learn fossils identification, and how to interpret environmental and ecological characteristics of former ecosystems. Students will observe and learn about a diverse endemic wildlife, which includes reptiles, guanacos, and rheas, as will visit Península Valdés to observe the charismatic Patagonian marine fauna, including orcas, elephant seals, whales, and penguins. Moreover, students will learn about the main conservation challenges facing Patagonia, including increased tourism, fisheries, and offshore oil exploration. 

Program Cost Includes:

  • Airfare
  • Housing
  • International health insurance
  • Some meals and excursions

Program Cost Does Not Include:

  • Passport, visa, or airport entrance or exit fees (if applicable)
  • Vaccinations
  • Remaining meals

*Program cost is approximate and subject to change. Program cost is in addition to tuition.