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SFS: Australia - Tropical Rainforest Studies
Yungaburra, Australia (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms:
Program Terms: Fall,
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Program Sponsor: Field Studies 
Budget Sheets Fall,
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Dates / Deadlines:
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Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2019 09/21/2018 10/31/2018 TBA TBA
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Language of Instruction: English
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Class Eligibility:
2-Sophomore, 3-Junior, 4-Senior (fall only)
Minimum GPA: 2.8 Maximum Credits Earned (per semester): 4.0
Academic Area of Study: Biology, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies
Program Description:
Program Description:

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This program has been approved by the Dickinson faculty as a Dickinson Partner Program. It is operated by the School for Field Studies (SFS). Students apply to Dickinson for approval and complete the SFS online application; Dickinson will forward students’ transcripts and letters of recommendations to SFS. Students pay Dickinson comprehensive fees to participate on this program and all financial aid transfers. Students may be eligible for additional scholarships from SFS.

For more information, please visit the SFS Australia website.

Note: You must apply and be accepted through Dickinson before finishing and submitting a partner program application. Partner program providers make all final admissions decisions. 

School for Field Studies: Australia—Tropical Rainforest Management Studies

In cooperation with the School for Field Studies (SFS), Dickinson students may participate in SFS semester programs in a variety of locations, each with a different focus of study. SFS's Center for Rainforest Studies is exploring the biodiversity benefits of restoration, the cost efficiency and ecological effectiveness of rainforest restoration site management practices and restoration planning in a riparian zone. With the results of this research and the Center's replanting projects, SFS will help to connect and create corridors between existing rainforest fragments, protect local drinking water sources and share best site management practices with rainforest restoration researchers worldwide.

Queensland, Australia and Australian Rainforests

The biodiversity of Australia’s rainforest and the country’s conservation efforts make Queensland an extraordinary laboratory for studying rainforest management and restoration. Recent cyclones have damaged the already diminished rainforest, which makes it the perfect location to study methods for managing these hyperdisturbed areas.

Tropical Rainforests are among the Earth’s most important and diverse ecosystems, yet thousands of acres disappear each day, largely as a result of human activity. Along with the loss tropical rainforest areas due to timber felling and farming, global climate change is very likely contributing to accelerating the loss of plant and animal species.

The potentially devastating effect of climate change is playing out in the World Heritage listed Wet Tropics rainforests of Far North Queensland, where climate models predict a significant rise in local temperatures over the next century that would result in a nearly 50 percent extinction rate among endemic species in affected areas. The world renowned Wet Tropics are often viewed as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ as it recognizes a threat of this magnitude possibly resulting in the loss of over half of all Australian bird species and endemic mammals. Little is known about Australia's rainforest ecosystem dynamics and the ability to restore a rainforest once it has been cleared. This semester study abroad program seeks further understanding of the dynamics of rainforest ecosystems, including potential impacts of global climate change. Our goal is to develop rainforest restoration and management strategies that benefit both ecosystems and human communities, and that can serve as a model for conserving other rainforests.


The School for Field Studies (SFS) Tropical Rainforest Studies study abroad program in Far North Queensland, Australia, provides exciting opportunities for students to study and work hands-on in rainforest management and restoration in the country’s tropical rainforest.


This Partner program requires students to have:

  •  Minimum 2.8 GPA
  • At least one college-level biology or ecology course
  • Biology, Environmental Science, and Environmental Studies majors encouraged to apply

Open to all majors. All students must have a declared major at the time of application.

As a part of the review process students’ conduct records and account status are also reviewed. Students and their parents should note that the review process takes all elements of the student’s academic record into consideration and that even if a student has the required minimum GPA and language pre-requisites, he or she may not be admitted.

Students who have questions about the review process or their particular candidacy for a program should come into the Center for Global Study and Engagement for advising.

Center staff will not discuss students’ applications with parents, friends or any other party without the student’s consent and presence in the conversation.

The program is a combination of coursework and field research. Classes include topics such as ecology, environmental economics, and resource management. Students also participate in directed research using the field research skills they develop, develop management policies, conduct field research in a variety of locations, and analyze potential solutions for managing Australia’s beautiful tropical rainforests.

What courses will I take?

Students enroll in Rainforest Ecology, Principles of Forest Management, Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values, and a directed research course.

What is the language of instruction?

Classes are taught in English.

How many credits will I earn?

Students earn 16 credits for the semester which equals four Dickinson credits.

Will the courses count towards my major?

Courses taken through SFS can count towards your major; speak with your academic advisor for more information. The SFS directed research satisfies the research requirement for the Biology and Environmental Science majors.

Will they count in my GPA?

SFS courses count in your Dickinson GPA.

What kinds of excursions are available?

A wide variety of excursions, camping trips, and research expeditions supplement your classwork. Students will camp in the Australian Outback at Chillagoe, visit Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforests, work at the at the TREAT (Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands Inc.) nursery, study the geology and historical geography of the Atherton Tablelands, assist at revegetation sites, and explore lowland rainforests, giant sedges with peppermint stick insects, mangrove forests, and palm forests and the Daintree River.

What other community engagement activities are available?

SFS students get involved in community volunteer projects and social activities such as: participating in community service trips to help local conservation groups and communities plant rainforest trees; attending special lectures; meeting with Aboriginal elders of the Yidinji, NgadjonJii, and Barbaram tribes; hosting community dinners and participating in short homestays; and attending local events.

What expenses are covered during excursions?

Students’ lodging and board costs will be covered during overnight excursions. Group transportation to and from the excursion site, as well as group travel for all group activities will be covered. Students will not be reimbursed for snacks, personal travel and personal activities during an academic excursion.

When will I find out where and when we’re travelling?

Specific dates for longer excursions will be announced at the beginning of the semester. Local site visits in and around the SFS site will be organized and announced during the semester.

Can a friend or family member who is not on the program also travel with us?

No, unfortunately, for logistical and academic reasons non program participants are not able to join the program for excursions.

Are excursions optional?

Not necessarily. These excursions are linked to your academic program and, in some cases, content delivered through the excursion will be relevant to a student’s studies and assessment. All students should plan to participate in all excursions. If a student misses an excursion or a planned departure for a trip, these arrangements and costs will not be made up for the student. It is each student’s responsibility to be where they need to be in order to participate fully in each academic excursion.

When is orientation?

In addition to the full day mandatory pre-departure orientation you’ll have at Dickinson, there is an orientation immediately upon arrival in Australia.

What are the program dates?

Tentative program dates may be found here.

Is there a group flight?

Students are responsible for making their own travel arrangements and for paying for travel to and from the program. An optional group flight will be offered by SFS through Advantage Travel of New York.

What if my family wants to visit me?

The academic schedule is fairly packed and there is not much time for students to host visitors. Visits from family or friends should occur during academic breaks, so as not to disrupt your studies.

When will I have time to travel?

Likewise, students are expected to attend classes and other mandatory events. You may travel on your own during academic breaks.

Can I arrive early or stay after the program ends?

Yes, but you should make other housing arrangements, as housing will not be provided to you outside the regular program dates.

How much does the program cost?

Students pay Dickinson comprehensive fees to attend this program. The cost includes all tuition and fees, room and board, scheduled academic excursions and park entrance fees, field equipment and supplies, emergency medical insurance, and pre-departure and on-site orientation. Budget sheets for the fall and spring may be found here.

Are additional scholarships available?

As a Partner Program, students may use their Dickinson financial aid to cover the Dickinson comprehensive fees to attend this program. Additional scholarships and aid are available from SFS and students are encouraged to apply.

How much extra money do I need to bring?

This depends on you. An estimate of personal expenses is included on the budget sheet, but it really depends on you and your spending habits.

Will I receive a stipend?


What if I become injured or ill?

The field station has a Student Affairs Manager whose job it is to oversee safety on site. They run the on-site orientation and help students acclimate to their new environment. They educate the students on local hazards, present the rules, and manage compliance. Each SAM is required to hold certification as a Wilderness First Responder (WFR), a 72-hour first aid training course. They assist students when they become ill or injured and are there if students just need someone to talk to. They communicate regularly with the Safety Department at SFS headquarters. In the event that you require medical attention, a staff member will accompany you to a medical facility.

How will I access medical care while in Australia?

Australian public or private hospitals and clinics will not accept U.S. insurance for payment. In most cases, you will need to secure a payment with a credit card and then request reimbursement from your primary health insurance provider when you return home. Check your U.S. policy to determine if you have coverage while you are abroad and how to submit claims. Emergency medical and repatriation insurance is provided and included in the program fee. Please refer to the Field Guide provided by SFS for more information.

Dickinson also provides students with medical and travel security assistance through International SOS. Please visit our Health and Insurance Abroad page for more information. 

Where will I live?

The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies lies at the end of the Atherton Tablelands in the heart of the traditional land of the Yidinji people. Students share furnished eight-person cabins with a separate shower and bathroom block. The main building of the field station has a computer laboratory, Internet access, and a student common room. Students should be prepared for a remote “field station” experience - sightings of tropical birds, bandicoots, pademelons, primitive musky rat kangaroo, amethystine pythons, and other unique rainforest species are common.

Are internships available?

Due to the time commitment necessary for this field studies program, students will not be able to undertake internships.

What research can I do?

Student research will focus on the loss and fragmentation of once extensive rainforests and examine environmental policies related to the issue on local and national levels. SFS staff and students, in collaboration with local landholders and stakeholder organizations, focus on enhancing the condition of tropical rainforests and determining ways to regenerate and restore the rainforest on the Atherton Tablelands.

Students learn field research techniques as they collect data on:

  • Potential responses to global climate change
  • Habitat use and animal behaviors
  • Resilience to cyclonic events, land-use
  • Local resident involvement in restoration projects
  • Cost-effective and ecologically beneficial methods of restoration

Student work contributes toward broader studies on global climate change, ecological integrity of rainforest fragments, and developing restoration practices to maximize rates of plant growth and colonization by fauna. Students are actively involved in either rainforest replanting or site maintenance with local land-care groups.

What is a visa?

A visa is a document, normally affixed within your passport, which allows you to enter the country and stay for the duration of your program. The requirements for the visa and visa process are controlled by the government of the country you are entering, are non-negotiable, and can change regularly. If you arrive without the proper visa, you will be sent home by immigration officers at your own expense.

Do I need a visa?

A student visa is required to participate in the SFS Australia program. If you do not hold a US passport, you should consult with the Australian embassy in your country of citizenship for the student visa requirements. Obtaining a student visa is the student’s responsibility. We will review the guidelines for obtaining a student visa at the Pre-departure Orientation.

We have produced visa guidelines to provide you with an overview of what you will need to do to obtain a student visa. Please note: this is only a tool to help you get started! It is not a substitute for consulting with the Australian consulate that has jurisdiction over your state of home residence. Make sure you are familiar with the most up-to-date regulations by visiting their website frequently.

Also, you need to ensure that your passport is valid for 6 months after the program end date.

How do I get a visa?

For US passport-holders, the Australian student visa process is all online! It takes about 20 minutes to complete and a successful application will result in a digital visa within 48 hours of its submission.

Please consult the Visa Guidelines for your country of study.

Do I have to go to the consulate/embassy?

US passport-holders do not need to visit an embassy or consulate to obtain the student visa.

How much does a visa cost?

Currently the visa fee is set at AUD $550 and this can only be paid by credit card; however this amount is subject to change.

How long does it take to receive my visa?

Your visa application will be approved about 48 hours after submission.

If I’m not a U.S. passport holder, are there any additional requirements?

Yes, you will need to do your own research on visa requirements for citizens of your home country to study in the UK. The CGSE may be able to help you with the required documents. Also, you will need to inform International Student Services that you will be studying outside of the United States and discuss how you will remain in valid F-1 status during your studies abroad.

Will the Center help me with the visa?

Yes, we provide you with visa guidelines, as well as various required documents needed for the visa process.

Global Ambassadors

Global Ambassadors are students returning from studying abroad.  Currently, the Center for Global Study and Engagement does not have a student representative for this program.  Please contact the CGSE for more information. 


For more information, contact:

Advisors (Please call for an appointment):

Center for Global Study and Engagement
Dickinson College

Professor Carol Loeffler, On-Campus Faculty Coordinator
Dickinson College
P.O. Box 1773
Carlisle, PA 17013-2896
Phone: (717) 245-1360




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