Australia Study Abroad – A Once in a Lifetime Experience

July 7, 2013
Tricia Evans, a fourth year SENR student majoring in Environmental Policy and Decision Making spent May Session studying abroad in Australia with 43 other Ohio State University students.  The Australia program, Sustaining the Environment and Human Societies allows students to explore relationships between people and their natural environment through sustainable development.  SENR faculty, Dr. Eric Toman and Dr. Kris Jaeger served as resident directors for the program. 
 
Evans describes the program as “a once in a lifetime experience.”  She notes, "Australia was absolutely amazing. I learned so much about the environmental significance of the World Heritage areas to the local people and to the world.”  Two of the highlights of the experience for Evans included visiting the Daintree Rainforest where students are able to go in the research canopy crane, and visiting the Great Barrier Reef, where students had the opportunity to identify fish and reef zones.  
 
The Australia program is organized around five modules (four completed in country and the final one completed upon returning home) all structured to provide opportunities for interaction and experiential learning.  Students also complete two service projects – clearing invasive species and replanting native vegetation on traditional land recently reacquired by an indigenous community and providing growth measurements and health assessments of replanted rainforest trees for an on-going re-vegetation project.  According to Dr. Toman, “the students develop a depth of understanding about social and ecological concepts and examine their application to Australian ecological and social/cultural systems.”  He notes, “it is especially rewarding to see the students engage in the class activities and with one another as they actively examine and learn about the class material.”  
 
Prior to departure, Dr. Jaeger shared her enthusiasm for the program, “I am extremely excited for the opportunity to share in this learning experience with students.”  She also reflected on the impact of her own undergraduate study abroad experience in Madagascar, noting “it was transformative both in terms of broadening my perspective and inspiring my own career path towards research science in natural systems.”  The hands on, immersed experience of the study abroad program and the focus on local and regional issues provide rare and meaningful opportunities to gain insight into other people’s reality. Collectively, the experience has the power to change our world view and how we view ourselves.”  
 
The number of SENR students participating in study abroad programs has doubled compared to last year.  According to SENR’s academic program manager, Renee Johnston 45 students from SENR are participating in study abroad this academic year, up from 22 in 2011-2012.  Also, SENR students are selecting a much wider variety of countries to study abroad than ever before, including Ecuador, France, India, Iceland, Brazil, Costa Rica, Australia and Fiji, Kenya, China, England and Scotland, Ireland and the Czech Republic.  To learn more about this study abroad program and others, visit:  http://senr.osu.edu/undergraduate/study-abroad
 

Photo (L to R):  Rachel Metzler, Dr. Toman, resident advisor and Tricia Evans in the canopy crane at the Daintree Rainforest (Photo Courtesy of Tricia Evans)