Geology 303 Natural Disasters – Portugal and Azores Islands

Geology 303 Natural Disasters – Portugal and Azores Islands

Summer 2018 was 2nd time this extremely popular course was offered.  It will not be offered in Summer of 2019; however stay tuned for 2020 plans

Join us for a 4-week expedition to the Azores Islands and Lisbon, Portugal.

Fulfills GE Explorations Requirement


3 girls overlooking a caldera

3 participants enjoying the view of Sete Cidades caldera. There is a city (upper left) inside the Caldera which we will visit.

Apply here

If you’re on the Inquiry List, you will receive an email when the program application is open.

DATES ABROAD: June 1 – 30, 2018.  This month long course will take students to the Azores Islands for the first half, and to Lisbon for the 2nd half. This will be a six week course, 4 weeks of which will be abroad, and 2 weeks of which will be at SDSU.  While in Europe, 2 weeks will be spent in the Azores Islands, followed by 2 weeks in Lisbon.

2018 PRICE:  TBD.  

Course Credit:  3 units Geology 303, Natural Disasters.   This course fulfills the following SDSU General Education requirement: IV EXPLORATIONS – Natural Sciences.

Already taken Natural Disasters?  You can take this course a second time provided there is a seat available. Priority will go to those who have not yet taken the course. Our enrollment cap is 17.  Should you be permitted a seat in the course, you would pay the same course fees as your colleagues.

Affiliated Universities:   Universidade dos Açores, Universidade de Lisboa in Portugal

students in helmets in lava tube

Students and Isabelle Sacramento Grilo (far right) explore the Gruto de Cavalo Ponta Delgado lava tube

Excursions included in price

  • Visit to Gruta do Carvão – Ponta Delgada (lava tubes)
  • Day visit to Cascais and Sintra
  • Visit to University of Açores
  • Day trip to Fogo Volcano
  • Day trip to Sete Cidades
  • Visit to tea factory and waterfalls
  • Day Trip to Furnas Volcano
  • Visit to University of Lisbon
  • Visit to the Baixa (downtown Lisbon)
  • Visit to Alfama quarter
  • Day trip to Serra da Arrábida, Cabo Espichel and Azeitão
  • Walking visit to Museu da Cidade/Lisboa
student group overlooking Cete Cidades crater, Azores

Students from summer 2016 perch on a lookout over Cete Cidades, a huge crater in the Azores Islands.

Included in price:


  •  Accommodations
  • 3 group meals
  • In-city transportation
  • Round trip airfare from Lisbon to Azores Islands
  • Excursions
  • Course Tuition

Not included in price:

  • Round trip airfare USA to Lisbon
  • Passport
  • Meals except the group meals noted above
  • Personal expenses


students swimming in a fern-lined river

Our 2017 students enjoying a swim in the Caldeira Velha

 Application Deadline:  March 15, 2018 for summer 2018 program. Priority Consideration: for College of Sciences majors.

Maximum Registration:  maximum of 17 students can enroll in this course. Expectations: Students must be prepared to actively participate in all course activities, meet demanding deadlines, and value learning about different cultural perspectives.   Moderate intensity exercise will include hiking on flat, hilly and mountainous terrain, as well as climbing into caverns.

outdoor restaurantCourse Description

This Study Abroad course  is based on geological hazards in the world that dramatically affect life on Earth, with emphasis on Portugal tectonic hazards; particularly earthquakes, tsunami, volcanoes, and landslides/coastal erosion. participants will gain knowledge of the geologic reasons and tectonic settings that produce natural disasters in the north Atlantic Azores islands and the Iberian Peninsula, and will subsequently be able to apply these new-found scientific skills into real field situations.

group clustered on a street in Lisbon

Faculty leader Isabelle Sacramento Grilo (photo bombing, left) introduces the class to her beautiful Portuguese home town of Cascais.

Beyond this academic perspective, participants will also get to know the Azores and continental Portuguese culture and some of its language, thereby appreciating the real impact that these natural hazards have on people’s lives here. Students will be enriched with these experiences: bringing the science and the people together, and in one of the most beautiful places in the world, indeed a historical heritage site.

Students will learn which areas are generally susceptible to natural hazards and when these hazards become disasters. Participants will learn ways to mitigate the ill effects of these disasters.

Exams: It is important to not only understand terminology, but to understand the interdisciplinary nature and the connections made in this course; exam questions will reflect these concepts.


Read  Be International article published January 23, 2018 about the program here

Meet the professor: Isabelle SacramentoGrilo

Department of Geology, College of Sciences, San Diego State University.

Isabelle SacramentoGrilo

Isabelle SacramentoGrilo

M.S., Geology, 1998, San Diego State University B.S., Geology, Environmental Studies, 1995, University of Southern California Los Angeles

Lecturer in lower and upper division Geology and Oceanography courses for majors and non-majors at SDSU.

Scholarly Work

Implementing Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) revisions to all my classes.

Invited Lecturer – Portugal, at Universidade de Lisboa, at Universidade Nova, and at ISEC (Instituto Superior de Educação e Ciências) – presentations and day symposiums on natural disasters and tectonics, based on my success with the pedagogy and methods of this discipline at SDSU.

Freshman for a Day – Guest lecturer in the annual SDSU Educational Opportunity (EOP) program for high school students to introduce them to life in college and incentivize them to pursue a higher degree.

Teaching Interests

Focus and expertise is in Geosciences Education for Liberal Studies majors (future teachers) and Natural Disasters. Classes taught include Physical Geology, Natural Disasters, Historical Geology, National Parks, Oceanography, amongst others.

Focus and expertise in inquiry-based learning and peer instruction, with iClicker technology to foster student engagement and participation.

Develop online versions of my classes, using the CSU QOLT rubric to improve student success.

Active participant in the SDSU Center for Teaching and Learning.

Development of curriculum for new lower and upper division courses, particularly development of the Earth Science class.

Thank you to our underwriter!  This program was made possible, in part, by

FLAD logo portuguese

The Luso-American Foundation Association.

Questions? Contact Maureen Crawford, International Coordinator, College of Sciences,