Center for Rainforest Studies

Rainforest to Reef

Australia
Semester
14 Weeks
16 Credits
Spring 2024
Jan 30 - May 3
In the Field
Fall 2024
Sep 4 - Dec 8
Filling Fast
Spring 2025
Jan 27 - May 2
Open
Program Costs
  • Tuition$22,750
  • Room & Board$5,750
  • Total$28,500
Application Deadlines
Spring 2024
November 1, 2023
Fall 2024
May 15, 2024
Spring 2025
November 1, 2024
Semester Program

Rainforest to Reef

Tropical North Queensland,
Australia

Immerse yourself in the rich biodiversity of the rainforest and learn about ecological resilience in the face of environmental threats like climate change. Explore the multitude of environments that exist in Northern Queensland and the complex relationships between them – rainforests to dry forests, savannahs to wetlands, and mangroves to coral reefs.

Join large-scale restoration ecology experiments and study sustainable food systems while developing skills in field research and data collection. In the final weeks of the semester, you’ll spend your time out in the field conducting an extensive research project.

  • Live, work, and study at our most remote Center – a 153-acre rainforest property surrounded by UNESCO World Heritage Forests.
  • Journey to the ancient forests at Daintree National Park, a biodiversity hotspot and, at over 110 million years old, possibly the oldest rainforest in the world.
  • Connect with a representative of the area’s Aboriginal Mob for conversation around agriculture, land rights, and First Nations people’s connection with their land.
  • Explore the biodiversity and diverse ecosystems on the Atherton Tablelands and engage with locals through community service.
  • Snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef while learning about its ecology and socio-environmental challenges.
  • Conduct a comprehensive field research project: Develop a research question, collect and analyze data, write a paper, and present your findings.

Academics

This academically rigorous program follows a six-day/week schedule. The interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to help students actively discover and understand the complexities of environmental, social, and economic issues in Australia.

Major academic themes include:

  • Rainforest ecology and conservation
  • Climate change
  • Habitat restoration ecology
  • Threatened species conservation
  • Aboriginal ecotourism
  • Development and settlement in the rainforest
  • Rainforest fragmentation and recovery
  • Forest ecotones
  • Animal behavior

Courses

On the Tropical Rainforest Studies program, you will take three 4-credit disciplinary courses and a 4-credit capstone Directed Research course. Courses are participatory in nature and are designed to foster inquiry and active learning. Each course combines lectures, field exercises, assignments, tests, and research. All courses are taught in English.

Click on the
to view a description and download the syllabus.
SFS 4910
Directed Research – Australia
4 credits
SFS 4910

Directed Research – Australia

4 credits

This course prepares students to distinguish hidden assumptions in scientific approaches and separate fact from interpretation, cause from correlation, and advocacy from objectivity.

Students learn specific tools including:

  • experimental design
  • field techniques
  • basic descriptive statistics
  • parametric and non-parametric quantitative analysis

Emphasis is placed on succinct scientific writing, graphic and tabular presentation of results, and effective delivery of oral presentations.

View Syllabus
SFS 3691
Tropical Biome Ecology & Climate Change
4 credits
SFS 3691

Tropical Biome Ecology & Climate Change

4 credits

In this course, you will obtain a broad appreciation of the diversity and dynamics of tropical terrestrial & marine biomes. You will be introduced to the current and past distributions of tropical rainforests, dry forest, savannas and coastal biomes, their biodiversity, and their relationships with the abiotic environment, human use, present threats, and restoration practices. This course aims to bring together an understanding of the underlying ecological processes that affect different biomes with the role of human society in shaping the present and future rainforests of the Wet Tropics & the coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. The course will take the rainforest Australian Wet Tropics & the coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) as case studies to investigate this field, yet many of the skills you learn here can be transferred to other systems. Topics covered will include: biophysical determinants vegetation and coral reef distribution; past, present, and future threats to Wet Tropics rainforests & GBR; and the theory and practice of rainforest and coral restoration.

The course also has a practical component. You will be taught field techniques for carrying out field research, data analysis, and communication of results.

View Syllabus
SFS 3701
Wildlife & Conservation Biology
4 credits
SFS 3701

Wildlife & Conservation Biology

4 credits

This course identifies threats to wildlife populations, how to obtain data on the impact of these threats on wildlife populations and how to select and apply appropriate conservation methods to mitigate these threats. We will look at these aspects in general and then demonstrate them in case studies of species in the Wet Tropics. To formulate a background understanding of habitats of the Wet Tropic’s wildlife, we will explore the origin of the main landscape formations of this part of Australia by looking at geological and biogeographical factors that shaped the landscape and its biota. You will be introduced to Australia’s fauna and the unique species that inhabit the diverse habitats of the Wet Tropics. We then will deal with some basic ecological concepts of biodiversity and why so many species can co-exist in one place.

The course is a mixture of class lectures, field lectures, field laboratory courses, workshops, field trips, and readings to complement the material presented in the lectures. A major emphasis is placed on field skills, the collection, management and analyses of data, and skills of writing a scientific paper.

View Syllabus
SFS 3021
Environmental Sustainability and Socio-economic Values
4 credits
SFS 3021

Environmental Sustainability and Socio-economic Values

4 credits

This course explores the contemporary environmental and sustainability issues and also touches broadly on the historical, social-cultural, economic and political factors that determine the use of natural resources, with particular emphasis on, but not limited to, the Wet Tropics of Australia. Topics to be covered in this course include; environmentalism, sustainable food production and livelihoods, the impact of human activities on terrestrial and marine biomes, conservation conflicts, resource governance and so on. In addition, students will be introduced to social science research methods, while a visit to a local Aboriginal community will help them gain a better understanding of the first Australian’s enviro-cultural heritage values.

Throughout the course students will be introduced to, and are expected to gain hands-on experience on social research techniques.

View Syllabus

Core Skills

You will gain practical skills in the field such as: GIS use and applications, species identification and population monitoring, forest survey methods, citizen science protocols, research design and implementation, quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, and research presentation.

Field Sites

You will visit different ecosystems and communities, which may include glaciers and ice fields, fjords, coastal villages and port cities, glacial lakes and rivers, sub-polar broadleaf evergreen forests, prehistoric cave paintings, pampa grasslands, peatlands, penguin colonies, and popular national parks.


Other Australia Programs

Semester

Rainforest to Reef

14 Weeks
16 Credits
Spring 2024
Jan 30 - May 3
In the Field
Fall 2024
Sep 4 - Dec 8
Filling Fast
Spring 2025
Jan 27 - May 2
Open

More Information

Program Costs
  • Tuition$22,750
  • Room & Board$5,750
  • Total$28,500
Summer Session 1

Marsupials of Australia

4 Weeks
4 Credits
Summer 2024
Jun 2 - Jul 1
Closed

More Information

Program Costs
  • Tuition$5,670
  • Room & Board$2,580
  • Total$8,250
Summer Session 2

Farming for the Future – Australia & Bali

4 Weeks
4 Credits
Summer 2024
Jul 7 - Aug 5
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More Information

Program Costs
  • Tuition$5,670
  • Room & Board$2,580
  • Total$8,250

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