This study abroad program will provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience that surveys the broad themes of biology and connects them not only to one another, but to our lives and our place in the world. The program will take place in Santander, on the beautiful northern coast of Spain. Led by UT professor Dr. Steven Phelps, the program consists of two courses over Summer I — one in Human Biology, one in Spanish Language and Culture. Both count toward graduation requirements of biology and anthropology majors.

The program will run from May 28, 2019 to July 6, 2019. The deadline to apply is December 1, 2018. The program will be offered again in 2020.

Want to learn more? Come to an info session and meet Dr. Phelps!

  • Thursday Sept. 20, 4-5pm, GDC 2.402

  • Wednesday Oct. 10, 12-1pm, GAR 2.128

  • Tuesday Oct. 30, 4-5pm, GDC 2.502

Or for more information you can contact the program coordinator, Jean Ooi at

Already interested? Apply here!

Playa Sardinero, Santander

Playa Sardinero, Santander

santander, spain

The program will take place at the University of Cantabria, a regional university with a long history of hosting Study Abroad programs not only in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin, but with colleges and universities from around the world. Santander is a small coastal city of about 180,000 people, where you can escape Austin’s summer heat — expect high temperatures of about 70F.

A little to the east is Bilbao, in the Basque country, home to the famous Guggenheim Museum. And not much farther is France. West of Santander a couple hours is Portugal. There will be no shortage of things to explore during the class and over your long weekends.

Bones at a dig in Atapuerca, near Burgos, Spain

Bones at a dig in Atapuerca, near Burgos, Spain

Human biology: epigenetics, genetics & evolution

In the BIO 346 course, we will connect the biological themes of epigenetics, genetics and evolution to societal forces and contemporary concerns, to recent and ancient history, and to our evolutionary relationships with other organisms. Examples will be drawn from the history of the Iberian Peninsula and coupled with multiple day trips, embedding the science coursework within the international experience.

Northern Spain has a variety of features that make it an unusually good site for this The recent history of the Spanish Civil War will serve as a backdrop for our discussion of epigenetics and society. Stepping a bit deeper into local history, the Iberian Peninsula has played a central role in the movements of people out of the Middle East and into Europe, beginning with the emergence of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent some 10,000 years ago. The peopling of Europe and the evolutionary imprint left by the origins of agriculture are major topics of the class. Next, northern Spain is home to some of the most extraordinary records of pre-historic art — 18 UNESCO world heritage sites in total — and one of the richest assemblages of hominin fossils. Hominin fossils in northern Spain date back well over a million years, including not only humans and Neanderthals, but also their ancestors. These artifacts play a major role in our understanding of human evolution, and we will visit key archaeological sites as part of our course excursions. Lastly, a world-class National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid offers the opportunity for students to place human evolution in a broader context, offering an enormous array of biological specimens and a major research facility. Each of these will play a role in linking the themes of the class to our extraordinary surroundings.

Paintings at Altamira Cave

Paintings at Altamira Cave

Spanish language and culture

Students will have an option of one of two Spanish classes. SPN 319S will provide introductory instruction in Spanish language and culture, offering insights into the culture and history of Spain relevant to our immediate surroundings. Heritage speakers and other students with advanced Spanish proficiency will enroll in SPN 328C, an advanced course on Spanish Literature and Culture. Either class counts toward foreign language and culture requirements for students in the College of Natural Sciences.

To enrich your experience and help keep costs down, housing will be providing through home stays with local families.