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Seal swimming underwater
Located on San Cristóbal Island, USFQ's Galápagos campus offers international students the opportunity to study in one of the most pristine natural laboratories in the world.

Universidad San Francisco de Quito

About the University

Founded in 1988, Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) is the first private liberal arts university in Ecuador and the Andes region, with high-quality programs in the biological and social sciences and humanities that complement areas of academic importance to Cornell. 

USFQ believes in freedom as a fundamental human characteristic and training students to become well-rounded world citizens, leaders, and entrepreneurs. 

The main campus is in Quito—Ecuador's Andean highlands region—with a satellite campus in the Galápagos Islands and a research station in Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the Amazonian lowland on the border of Yasuní National Park, a biodiversity hotspot and one of the planet's last wilderness areas. Students and researchers benefit from access to three distinct geographic regions and ecological systems. 

For students and scholars interested in the social sciences and humanities, these regions reflect the dynamic cultural richness of a small country that integrates Hispanic, Indigenous, and Afro-descendent populations, providing a unique perspective on the challenges these communities face in an era of accelerated social, economic, and ecological change.   

About USFQ

About the Student Experience

In partnership with the Einhorn Center for Community Engagement, the Hub in Ecuador offers expanded community-engaged learning opportunities for students that build on engaged teaching and research initiatives with Cornell faculty and community partners.

USFQ has agreements with over 100 international universities for collaboration on research, conservation, and development. The university currently has more than 9,000 students, including 1,000 international students. Learn about international students at USFQ.

Campus buildings with a sculpted dragon coming over one of the roofs

The main campus in Cumbayá offers Cornell students an immersive experience, interacting with local students on a scenic campus. Students can explore Quito's vibrant neighborhoods and beautiful colonial architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Sea turtle swimming underwater

The Galápagos campus puts students at the center of one of the most pristine natural laboratories in the world, in an ecologically fragile site with no permanent residents apart from research and tourist. Students also spend time at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station.

Study Abroad in Ecuador

Ken Roberts headshot

Cornell Faculty Lead: Kenneth M. Roberts

Richard J. Schwartz Professor, Department of Government, A&S

"Ecuador is an exciting place for a Cornell Global Hub in South America, given the country's remarkable ecological diversity and cultural richness. And USFQ is an outstanding academic and institutional partner for us in Quito, one that can help open doors for Cornell students, faculty, and researchers to experience that diversity and richness.

There are long-standing research collaborations between faculty members at Cornell and USFQ, and ample opportunities exist to build on and branch out from these existing relationships. Cornell faculty and graduate students have conducted research in Ecuador in fields as diverse as riverine and marine ecology, agroforestry, soil, water, and energy conservation, wildlife habitat protection, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture, natural resource extraction and development policies, law and the environment, public health, participatory community planning, and environmental movements and political polarization in Ecuador. Cornell's partnership with USFQ provides unique opportunities to pursue new research and teaching initiatives in these and related fields."

Research Themes

Hubs provide a collaborative platform for thematic research areas based on Cornell's and our Global Hubs partners' academic strengths and local contexts. The USFQ Hub is exploring these research themes:

  • Big Data, AI, and New Media: The Data Science Institute researches all areas of data science and its applications, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, and big data, to solve real-world problems.
  • Inequalities and Social Justice and Migration and Mobilities: The Institute for Advanced Studies on Inequalities engages in applied and academic research in critical studies of race, gender, translation, migration, and territory. The institute seeks to influence public policy and positions itself in Global South studies as a promoter of transnational and interdisciplinary conversations about social inequality.
  • One Health: The Institute for Social Medicine and Global Challenges is a multidisciplinary center dedicated to research on public health and nutrition problems and their determinants, for the support of prevention and health promotion activities, the training of professionals, and the evaluation of global health, nutrition, and development intervention programs.
  • Sustainable Development: Ecology Institute ECOLAP-USFQ is an interdisciplinary institute that carries out scientific research and provides consulting services for research, monitoring, management, conservation, and sustainable use of natural resources. 

Learn About Hubs Research Themes

Seed Grants

New seed grants from Global Cornell and USFQ are deepening relationships between Cornell and its Global Hubs partners across the world. Learn more about the research projects.

About the Location

Quito, Ecuador

Evening view of Quito and Cotopaxi
Quito and Cotopaxi

Ecuador is a small country in South America that boasts remarkable ethnic, cultural, geographic, and bioecological diversity, ranging from the Galápagos Islands to the Pacific coastal region, Andean highlands, and Amazon region. Located in the Andes Mountains, Quito is9,350 feet above sea level—the second-highest capital city in the world. Built on the ruins of an Incan city, Quito's preserved 16th-century colonial architecture became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978. Ecuador’s altitudes make for a variable climate, with equatorial daylight consistent year-round. Ecuador's biodiversity stemming from its four distinct regions supports rich flora and fauna, and the world-famous Galápagos Islands are just one of its natural attractions.