Field Programs

Nearby resources for field biology include the Los Padres National Forest and local marine, river, and lake habitats. Desert, alpine, and coniferous forest ecosystems are within driving distance. Students may also take ecological coursework in the Pacific Northwest, Michigan northwoods, or in southern India at the AuSable Institute for Environmental Studies, or in the rainforest and coral reef centers through the Global Stewardship Studies Program (CCSP) in Belize or the South Pacific (New Zealand and Samoa). Additional opportunities for an off-campus semester are available through the College, and can be planned into the schedule of any track within the Biology major.

Westmont Biology Courses which routinely offer field work:

Marine Biology

Weekly visits to local beaches, trip to the Elephant Seal Rookery in Cambria, CA and boat trip to Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Park.

Physiological Ecology

The class makes a variety of field outings in the local area including the Los Padres National Forest. A highlight of the class is a 3 day trip to Yosemite National Park.

Animal Diversity

Visits to zoological and marine parks.

Periodic Courses

Recent courses, which are offered periodically, also provide a fantastic field experience. Courses classified as Topics in Biology included:

  • Island Biology which made a 3 day trip to Santa Cruz Island
  • Tropical Ecology which made a Spring Break trip to Costa Rica
  • General Ecology (BIO 125) which explores local field sites
  • Plant Classification (BIO 151) which explores local field sites

Many students are able to obtain credit through enrollment in programs which are fully accredited by Westmont and complement the Santa Barbara coursework.
The Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies is a Christian organization whose mission is to bring healing to the biosphere and the whole of Creation. They accomplish this by offering academic programs to college and university students, research projects, environmental education for local school children and information services for churches and the wider world community. Our students often enroll in their summer programs which are offered in two five-week sessions which begin in early June and end in mid-August.
Au Sable Great Lakes (northern Michigan) offers summer courses such as Animal Ecology, Aquatic Biology, Conservation Biology, Field Botony, Global Development, Ecological Sustainability and Land Resources, Environmental Chemistry, Insect Biology and Ecology, Limnology (Water Resources), Restoration Ecology and Summer Flora.
Au Sable Pacific Rim (Washington State - Puget Sound) Please check back for updates.

Off Campus Courses

A highlight for many Westmont Biology majors has been to study off-campus for a semester through the Creation Care Study Programs. The following are descriptions of program locations and course offerings.

Central America, Belize

In this pocket of Central America, toucans, howler monkeys, jaguars, and tapirs populate the rainforest neighborhood – as well as adventuresome undergraduate students studying Christian creation care. Students study for four months in a learning-living community at Nabitunich – a collection of cottages and gardens set on a large organic farm built near the base of the Mayan ruin of Xunantunich. In addition, swimming and birdwatching along the Mopan River is only a brief walk away from CCSP’s tropical “campus.” Besides extensive visits to the coral reefs and ruins of Belize, students will travel to places of interest in nearby Guatemala as part of the program. Core curriculum courses are God and Nature, Tropical Ecosystems and Introduction to Sustainable Community Development. Several elective courses are also available.
The schedule also allows for independent exploration of Belize (and neighboring countries) during breaks and free weekends.

The South Pacific, Somoa & New Zealand

From the coral reefs and lava fields of Samoa to the forests and peaks of New Zealand, students spend the semester exploring the South Pacific’s wide range of ecosystems, learning about sustainable development, and Christian creation care.
Community living enriches the learning experience all along the way. Village homestays are a highlight of the three week Samoa segment, and upon arrival in New Zealand, students are welcomed to Great Barrier Island’s Orama Christian Community, a campus base for the semester. Set in an oceanfront valley flanked by native bush, students can watch the sun set over the islands of the Hauraki Gulf from their cabin windows. For the mainland component of the program students reside at Kodesh – another Christian community in Auckland. While on the New Zealand mainland students explore other parts of the country as part of the semester’s coursework. Core curriculum courses are Ecosystems of the South Pacific, God and Nature and Introduction to Sustainable Community Development. Several elective courses are also available. For more information about CCSP:
The schedule also allows for independent travel during a week long mid-semester break and during free weekends.