The Great Barrier Reef and the tropical rainforests of northern Australia form a complex, interconnected system. Study abroad in Australia with SFS and spend your summer learning about rainforest and watershed management in this verdant region while considering the policies and actions needed to maintain healthy waterways in the face of climate change.
Go snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef and learn about the links between rainforest restoration and water quality on the reef while observing sea turtles, giant clams, corals, and other marine organisms up close
Program Costs & Financial Aid
Meet Your Admissions Counselor
SFS provides a comprehensive study abroad experience during a 6-day/week program schedule. SFS delivers the highest level of support and an unparalleled academic experience.
All students are welcome to apply for our need-based financial aid. Students who exhibit financial need for their program will be offered SFS financial aid. SFS aid is offered through a combination of scholarships, grants and loans.
Pell Grant Match
SFS matches Federal Pell Grant funding for students applying to an SFS semester program.
Many SFS students receive aid through their home institutions or other outside sources, so check with your financial aid office to see what aid may apply to an SFS program.
Cait was raised on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Cait joined the SFS team in 2017 after graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in Sociology and Education. During the fall of her junior year, she studied in Florence, Italy. In the heart of Tuscany, she discovered her passion for learning and experiencing through education abroad. Throughout her career, Cait has facilitated a Faculty-Lead Program throughout Ireland and Scotland, served as an International Coordinator for a higher education first year abroad program, and has served in SFS Admissions advising and preparing students for their adventures to the field. Cait loves to share her passion for education abroad with every student she serves, and believes international education is an important part of any student’s undergraduate experience. Cait can’t wait to prepare you for your SFS experience!
Itinerary varies from term to term and is subject to change. Program activities generally take place 6 days a week.
Week 1: Welcome to Australia! Move into cabins, meet roommates, and attend program orientation. Classes begin with lectures on the history of the Wet Tropics bioregion and an introduction to area terrestrial and aquatic species. Travel to Cairns for a guest presentation on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) by local group Reef Teach. Spend a full day at and around Green Island on the GBR – take a glass-bottomed boat ride, go snorkeling, and attend lectures on coral reefs and cays.
Week 2: Lectures on catchment systems, water quality monitoring, and impacts of rainforest water run-off. Field exercises at Eubenangee Swamp to see coastal wetlands and an area fruit farm to learn about land use. World Heritage rainforest canopy walk at the Mamu Boardwalk. Multi-day expedition to Orpheus Island on the GBR to study mangrove ecology and marine conservation.
Week 3: Lectures on ‘syntropic’ agricultural approaches, geospatial approaches to water management, and soil erosion mitigation techniques with field visits to Skybury Plantation and Barron Falls in the Atherton tablelands. Field lecture at Tinaroo Dam to learn about modified waterways. Guest lecture on Green Island from a reef naturalist. Community service with TREAT, a local forest conservation group.
Week 4: Field trip to Millaa Millaa rainforest and waterfall and final field lecture at an area farm. Group presentations and final exam. Free day in Cairns. Re-entry exercises and cabin cleanup. Farewell “mystery tour” of the area. Head home.
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. Read more about the SFS program model.
Major academic themes include:
Rainforest, coastal, and marine ecology
Ecosystem connections between the rainforest and reef
Impacts of human development
On the Watersheds of the Wet Tropics program, you will take one 4-credit course. This course is participatory in nature and is designed to foster inquiry and active learning combining lectures, field exercises, assignments, and tests. This course is taught in English.
Click on the course to view a description and download the syllabus
SFS 3161 Wet Tropics Watershed Ecology and Conservation (4 credits)
This course follows the Barron River’s journey from tropical North Queensland’s World Heritage-listed rainforest ranges in the Atherton Tablelands through Lake Tinaroo and to the Great Barrier Reef just north of Cairns. Students explore the connections between land and sea and learn about the ecological processes and socio-economic factors that shape rainforest, watershed, and reef management in Australia’s tropical north, and the factors needed to maintain healthy ecosystems in the face of climate change, development and increasing urbanization.
You will gain practical skills in the field such as: habitat and biodiversity assessment, rainforest restoration techniques, water quality assessments, citizen science protocols, human development impact assessment methods, and approaches to watershed management.
You will visit different ecosystems and communities which may include the Great Barrier Reef, primary and secondary tropical rainforest, coastal scrub and mangrove, Melaleuca (paperbark) swamps, coral reefs, Indigenous communities, and local conservation and restoration groups.
At the end of a narrow, winding road, in the middle of a lush rainforest, lies this remote field station. Our 153-acre property is surrounded by protected World Heritage forests, and you can see incredible wildlife from the front steps of your cabin. Nearby Yungaburra and Cairns provide the occasional return to civilization.
Group living in 8-person cabins
Main building with classroom, lab, and study spaces