This Bioko Island Study Abroad Program takes place in the Spanish-speaking central African country of Equatorial Guinea and is built upon the long term academic partnership between Drexel University, the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program (BBPP), and the National University of Equatorial Guinea (UNGE). The format of the program includes individual field research projects at the Moka Wildlife Center in the southern highlands of Bioko, coursework at UNGE in the capital city of Malabo, and additional fieldwork in the tropical forests, mountains, lakes and beaches of Bioko Island. To maintain the high level of individualized study, the program is offered twice a year (September - December & January - March) to a class of six to ten students
Life on Bioko
The island of Bioko is one of the most beautiful and biologically-significant places in all of Africa. It is home to one of Africa's greatest concentrations of endangered primates and to numerous unique species of frogs, plants, insects, and many more species. During the dry season (November to February), butterflies gather in the rain forest and endangered marine turtles come ashore to nest on the black sand beaches. Nearly 200 species of birds fly amongst the island's three volcanic peaks, the highest almost 3000 meters above sea level (~ 10,000 ft). Located 20 miles (37 km) off the coast of Cameroon in west central Africa, Bioko is a part of the African country of Equatorial Guinea. At Bioko's northern tip is the country's capital city, Malabo (population: 100,000), a city pulsing with petroleum wealth and easily accessible from many European capitals. Moving south the island becomes increasingly rural, devolving into large swaths of undisturbed virgin rain forest.
Interested in seeing a student's perspective on the program? See this video here!
3.0 minimum GPA
Sophomore status or higher
Open to all majors interested in learning about biodiversity, sustainability and conservation
As of AY 18/19 this program will only be offered during the winter term.
Approx Program Start Date
Approx Program End Date
The courses offered in this program have been specifically designed to reflect the realities of biodiversity conservation and sustainability in developing countries.Students are required to take all 5 courses for a total of 22 quarter credits (15 semester credits) during each 11-week term. Please note that Drexel students will be registered for 20 credits--earning only 2 credits for the GST T180 Equato Guinean culture course. There are opportunities for service learning, especially teaching English as a Second Language, as well as volunteering in local schools, clinics and at BBPP's Moka Wildlife Center.
The courses in the program are taught in English and the professors have advanced degrees from accredited universities in the United States.
Free elective or EEG elective depending on concentration
ENVS 342 Natural Resource Economics
As of January 2020 this course will be listed as ENVS 345, and will continue to fulfill the same requirements as ENVS T380
EEG elective or free elective depending on concentraion
Substitute for ENVS 328 Conservation Biology course
Substitute for ENVS 328 Conservation Biology Course
GST T280 Special Topics: Contemporary EquatoGuinean Culture
ENVS 342 EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Natural Resource Economics
A lecture course that combines instruction in the economic implications of natural resources (renewable and non-renewable resources, efficient utilization, market performance, government controls, sustainability and discounting) with a university-wide guest lecture series addressing local issues. (4.5 quarter credits = 3 semester credits)
ENVS T380: Conservation Biology (As of January 2020, the course number will change to ENVS 345)
This course we will detail the loss of biodiversity in Equatorial Guinea and explore related issues, including the theories and practices of conservation biology and the solutions currently and the solutions currently being formulated to enhance the preservation of species on our planet. The course will explore potential limitations to these strategies and provide an appreciation of the relevance of ethics, economics and politics to biodiversity conservation while promoting the potential for individual action to influence conservation efforts (4.5 quarter credits = 3 semester credits)
GST T280 Special Topics Global Studies: Contemporary EquatoGuinean Culture
Drexel students will be registered for 2 credits in order not to go over the 20 credit limit. This course will be a practical, hands-on opportunity to engage with the social, cultural, economic and political context of Equatorial Guinea through experiential learning, field trips, and guest lectures. Major course themes will be determined based upon the availability of guest speakers, cultural events etc., and could focus on the following areas: History, Culture, Geopolitics, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Arts and Music. There will be opportunities for conversation partners with UNGE students. We will explore these topics through readings, reflective journaling, comparative analysis, oral presentations and independent study. (4.5 quarter credits = 3 semester credits)
ENVS 344 EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Field Research in Tropical Ecology
An intensive research course that takes advantage of the unspoiled rain forest adjacent to the Moka Wildlife Center, a university affiliated research station located in the highlands of Bioko Island. Opportunities exist for student research on topics including primates, antelope, birds, chameleons, butterflies and plants. Assignments for this class will begin approximately one month before the program begins. Please plan accordingly. (6 quarter credits = 4 semester credits)
ENVS 343 EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Field Methods in Tropical Ecology
A lecture and field excursion course based either on the southern beaches or in the Caldera, combining instruction in standard methods for studying rain forest communities (expedition planning; GPS and mapping, forest diversity and productivity;wildlife population monitoring) with multi-day field experiences in Bioko Island's remote protected areas. (3 quarter credits = 2 semester credits)
The cornerstone course of the program is ENVS 343 - Field Research in Tropical Ecology (6 quarter credits= 4 semester credits), which takes advantage of the unspoiled rain forest adjacent to the Moka Wildlife Center, a university-affiliated research station located in the highlands of Bioko Island. Over time this course has been taught by an exciting combination of both prominent (Dr. Tom Butynski; Dr. Esteban Sarmiento) and emerging (Dr. Drew Cronin) field biologists, who have focused on cooperative learning techniques to span cultural differences, while still imparting a sound foundation for ecological research and conservation best-practices.
A second shorter field course, ENVS 411 - Field Methods in Tropical Ecology (3 quarter credits = 2 semester credits) involves a roughly one-week expedition to Bioko's undisturbed southern coast. This expedition gives students the opportunity to census forest animals, especially the seven species of monkeys which occur at high densities in this area, and also to record nesting activities by the four species of sea turtles.
Dr. Hilton Oyamaguchi is a Postdoctoral Researcher from Dr. Gonder's lab at Drexel University. He received his Ph.D. in Biology from University of California, Los Angeles under Dr. Thomas B. Smith's supervision. His research is focused on understanding the biological processes that maintain and generate this biodiversity and how to apply this information into conservation planning. His previous research focused on the diversification process of anurans along the Amazon-Cerrado gradient in South America. In addition, he worked on thermal acclimation and tolerance of the Túngara frog from Central America. He joined the BBPP in 2015, where he is studying the environmental drivers of population divergence in ectothermic tetrapods along the elevational gradient of the Gran Caldera (2,261m) and Pico Biao (2,009m) on Bioko Island. In addition, he is interested in understanding the physiological responses of anuran tadpoles from Central Africa to climate change." Dr. Oyamaguchi is the faculty member for the Field Research and the Field Methods course.
Dr. Katy Gonder came to Drexel with nearly 20 years of research experience in Central Africa. The primate enthusiast specializes in African biodiversity and conservation strategies, and joins the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program — founded by bio prof Gail Hearn, PhD — as the principal investigator. Dr. Gonder's areas of interest include Genomics, evolutionary processes, tropical biodiversity, conservation science, educational capacity building. She also works with Central Africa Biodiversity Alliance, Tropical Rainforest Education Experiment and Chimpanzees in Nigeria and Western Cameroon. Dr. Gonder is scheduled to teach Conservation Biology in January 2019.
Dana Venditti is a Ph.D. Candidate from Dr. Gonder’s lab at Drexel University. Her dissertation research is focused on integrating large, multi-dimensional datasets to inform conservation strategies for primates in West Africa. One of the major aspects of her project is understanding the socioeconomic characteristics of the Malabo bushmeat (illegally sold wildlife) market and island-wide bushmeat commodity chain in order to provide conservation and governmental policy recommendations. Dana joined the BBPP in 2013 as a volunteer research assistant working in BBPP’s remote research camps on Bioko Island’s southern beaches. After a position as the research camp manager in 2014 and as the Moka Wildlife Center Director in 2015, she began her graduate studies at Drexel in 2016. Dana is scheduled to teach Natural Resource Economics in January 2019.
David Montgomery is the In-Country Manager of the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program. Equatorial Guinea. Montgomery first started with Drexel University on Bioko as the Resident Director of the Bioko Study Abroad Program in 2012, and he has continued to get to know the country and its people for the last 7 years. His current work is focused on managing the day-to-day operations of the BBPP (biodiversity research, environmental education, capacity building, and conservation) and reinforcing Equatoguinean leadership at all levels in the management of the protection of the Gran Caldera Scientific Reserve. Montgomery will be teaching the Contemporary EquatoGuinean Culture course in January 2019.
While all coursework on this program will be in English, the national language of Equatorial Guinea is Spanish, thus students are recommended, but not required, to have one year of university level Spanish or the equivalent or several years of university level French, the second language of Equatorial Guinea, in order to take the greatest advantage of the experience. Please contact us to discuss your language abilities. To advance their language skills more quickly before studying abroad, Drexel students should consider taking more language courses on campus during their co-op terms. For more information please contact the Drexel Modern Languages Program at 215-895-5816.
This is a Drexel sponsored program, therefore for Drexel students you will receive Drexel credits and Drexel grades. For visiting students, please check with your home school for details as to how grades will or will not be included in your GPA.
While in Malabo students will live together in the Drexel study abroad house. The Drexel study abroad house, located in downtown Malabo, has wifi, air conditioning, filtered water, washer and dryer, a kitchen for students to use, a student lounge to watch movies or study and a seminar room. Students will be in shared bedrooms. Some rooms have en suite bathrooms. The Drexel student house is also the office of BBPP and students will have the opportunity to interact with BBPP staff members.
While at the Moka research station students will be housed at the research station, either in the station itself or in tents provided by Drexel. The research station has wifi, running water (that needs to be boiled), toilets that flush with rain water as well as pit toilets. Students will be in shared rooms and have shared bathrooms. Most meals at Moka are cooked by local women.
US citizens do not need a visa to enter Equatorial Guinea. Non-US citizens should check to see if they need a visa.
Drexel studentspay their regular Drexel tuition plus an additional program fee, which covers housing, partial board, orientation and in-country field trips including the Moka expedition and the trip to the Southern Beaches. Please see below for more details
Visiting students pay a set fee which includes both tuition and the program fee. The program fee covers 22 credits of tuition, housing, partial bard, orientation and in-country field trips including the Moka expedition and the trip to the Southern Beaches. Please see below for more details.
Winter 2019 Program fee.
Drexel students: $4,200 + regular Drexel tuition. ( Due to the generous support of the Office of International Programs, this reflects a $2,000 reduction from Winter 2018)
Visiting students: $17,200 flat fee which includes tuition and room.
Included in the program fee:
--Tuition (for visiting students)
--Housing both in Malabo and in the field
--24 hour watchguard for student house in Malabo
--Food during field work
--Airport pick up and drop off
--Transportation to and from Moka wildlife center
--Cell Phone (the program will supply students with a local cell phone. Students are responsible for paying for minutes)
--Medical evacuation and repatriation assistance service (On-Call)
The program fee does not include
-- Airfare (approx $2000)
-- Visa, if applicable
-- Meals while in Malabo (approx $700)
-- Cell phone usage (varies)
-- Personal expenses (varies)
-- Health and accident insurance for your time overseas
--Immunizations (please see below and speak with your doctor)
Please see the program budget sheet for more details.
This is a Drexel sponsored program, thus your Drexel tuition and financial aid remain the same during the term abroad. Students may also want to submit a revised budget to Drexel Central to see if additional funding may be available.
Students who receive Federal Work Study should consider applying for the Study Abroad Online Journalist work study position (only available to students after acceptance).
Those interested in seeking additional funding should review Scholarship & Funding Opportunities. Remember that scholarship deadlines may be much earlier than study abroad deadlines, so plan accordingly.
For more information on these and many other scholarship opportunities, visit our Scholarships page.
If you are a Pell Grant recipient please consider applying for the Gilman scholarship.
You should begin the immunization process now by contacting your primary care doctor. They can advise you on immunization centers in your area. Depending on your type of insurance coverage, some shots may be covered. See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.
The CDC recommends the following when studying in Central Africa:
--Hepatitis A, or immune globulin (IG)
--Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment. A good idea. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
--Meningococcal (meningitis), if you plan to visit Central African Republic, Chad, and Sudan from December through June. Also a good idea.
--Yellow fever, if you plan to travel anywhere outside cities. REQUIRED
--Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region. E.G. is definitely a developing country and so this is highly recommended.
As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults.
--Malaria is a preventable infection that can be fatal if left untreated. Prevent infection by taking prescription antimalarial drugs and protecting yourself against mosquito bites. You are REQUIRED to take one of the following antimalarial drugs: atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine (primaquine in special circumstances and only after G6PD testing).
Note: Mefloquine is NOT RECOMMENDED and chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in Equatorial Guinea and should not be taken to prevent malaria in this region.
Rabies is recommended by the CDC, but is not required by the program.
Interested in learning more about the drill monkeys that are on Bioko? Check out the The Drill Project.
Interested in learning more about Dr. Gail Hearn, the founder of BBPP and the faculty member whose research inspired the Bioko Study Abroad program? Check out this video about her amazing work.