Call for Applications: Documentary Storytelling in the Galapagos

For nearly a decade, students from the VisCom program at UNC have traveled to various international destinations to design, program and produce world-class documentary multimedia websites under the direction of a team of professors and practitioners. Many of these projects have been recognized as among the best in the world and have launched students into internships and jobs.


June 15-July 18, 2009

Galapagos Summary:

The Galapagos Islands are one of the world’s greatest natural treasures. Much media attention has been focused on the natural side of the Galapagos Islands, but little has been done about the human population and it’s interaction with the ecosystem. A dramatic increase in population in recent decades has imperiled the fragile ecosystem, causing UNESCO to list the islands as a “World Heritage Site at Risk.?

Because of the increased human presence in the islands, numerous interesting and important issues are present. Topics ranging from traditional lifestyles and their impact (fishing, agriculture), to research, management and conservation (Illegal fishing, whale migration studies, species survival, etc.) to social issues (illegal immigration and sustainable tourism) can provide a wholistic picture of the people and places that make up the Galapagos Islands.


Project Summary:

In 2009 the world’s attention will be focused on the Galapagos because of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. JOMC 584 will be poised to capture some of that attention with the world’s first cutting-edge multimedia web site, focused on telling the story of the human interaction with the environment in the most unique place on earth.

We will be collaborating with the University of San Francisco de Quito and will be producing the project from The Galapagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences facility on San Cristobal Island.

We will be documenting life, culture and the environment on three main islands in the archipelago – San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, and Isabela. In some cases students may travel with their subjects to remote locations. We will do stories in still photos, audio, video and infographics.

The first two weeks of the class will be spent content gathering and preparing the site for the content. The team will be divided into groups and operate from three bases on the main islands. All content gatherers will get daily editing and coaching. Students involved in the site production will be coached daily as well.

The final two weeks of the class will be production of the site. The entire team will reconvene on San Cristobal and produce the site. The site will be finished and online by the end of the class. Students will earn 3 credits for the class.

Lodging and transportation

We will be staying in small hotels or in homestays with families. All are within walking distance to town. Food costs are roughly equivalent to the U.S. and the currency is the U.S. dollar. All project-related trips will be provided with no additional cost.

Selection Process

We will need photographers, video and audio journalists, multimedia designers, programmers and infographic journalists. The minimum number of students will be 15, maximum 20. Application is online through the Study Abroad website.

The application process is open NOW. There is a $50 fee to apply that will be applied to the cost of the trip if you are selected. To apply, you fill out an online application, write a short essay, and submit transcripts, portfolio and resume. Students will have until April to pay for the class. The portfolio and resume go to Professor Davison, all else is submitted through the study abroad site.

Spanish language skills are highly desirable. Advanced students, graduate students, and seniors will have priority. I will review your grades, talk with your professors, review your portfolios and do everything I can to make the selection process as fair and unbiased as possible.


Final budget estimates are underway and will be made available soon Fundraising for the program is also underway and may reduce costs for students. Ballpark estimate of total costs is between $4000-$5000 for a month in the rarest place on earth. The cost includes three hours of academic credit.

Photo by Pat Davison

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