Australia: Sustainability and Environmental Action

Educational Excursions

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Blue Mountains World Heritage site

Most of the teaching in the program takes place in the field (a total of around 27 days). Excursions are totally integrated with readings, workshops, discussions, and lectures. In each region we visit, students are introduced to the area’s climate, geology, geomorphology, soils, and flora and fauna, as well as its human history and culture in order to instill a sense of place and provide a basis for understanding the unique management issues of each region.

Orientation: Seven Mile Beach
Students spend a five-day orientation at Seven Mile Beach, south of Byron Bay. The group camps at Linnaeus Estate, a 280-acre property with one-and-a-half kilometers of pristine beachfront; it has been recognized as one of the most beautiful privately owned properties on Australia’s east coast. During orientation, the group reviews program goals and safety, learns about Australian cultural norms, and starts the process of establishing a group bond. Students are introduced to iconic Australian flora and fauna present on the property and learn about the climate and coastal processes of northern New South Wales.

Tasmania: A conservation hot spot
Experience stunning scenery and one of Australia’s largest conservation reserves.
Tasmania is a geological and biological treasure where a billion years of earth history are exposed to view. Tasmania was the last landmass to break away from the southern supercontinent, Gondwana. Its stunning scenery, Aboriginal heritage, and conservation values have resulted in 40 percent of the state being set aside in nature reserves, including the three-and-a-half-million-acre Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, one of Australia’s largest conservation reserves and one of only two world heritage areas to be listed under seven different criteria. The southwest of Tasmania is one of the last true wilderness regions of the world. 

But Tasmania is a conservation hot spot in more ways than one. It has a history of bitter conflict over the use and preservation of its natural areas that is still very much alive. Tasmania has been the scene of the most epic environmental battles in Australia, which have shaped the national conservation movement. Tasmania was the birthplace of the world’s first green political party and the greens are now part of a coalition state government. The state has the highest green vote in the nation.  

The program’s eight-day field trip in Tasmania includes walks in spectacular glaciated scenery and magnificent forests, which include coniferous species of Gondwanan origin, extensive rainforests, and the world’s tallest flowering plants. Students meet forest protestors who are battling to save old growth forests from logging. They also examine the competition between nature conservation and tourism on the one hand and the use of the land and resources for wood, minerals, and energy production on the other. Traveling by bus, the group visits key sites that illustrate these struggles and sustainable solutions.

Examining local plants during the Aboriginal camping trip

Aboriginal Camping Trip
Acquire traditional ecological knowledge in the quest for sustainability.
Students have a four-day camping trip at Minyami, a large Aboriginal-owned bush property bordering Bundjalung National Park in Northern New South Wales. The excursion is led by Aboriginal guides who have long been associated with the SIT program and who enthusiastically share their knowledge of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal cultures.

While at Minyami students make traditional Aboriginal artifacts, learn traditional hunting and gathering skills, experience Aboriginal customs, and hear stories that contain lessons on how to care for and live in the environment. During this period, students also take short trips to culturally significant sites within Bundjalung National Park.

The Aboriginal studies component of the program gives students insights into an entirely different way of looking at the environment and resources.

Students visit and learn about a sustainable house

Sydney and Melbourne
Examine urban sustainability in two of the world’s great cities.
With more than half of the world’s population living in urban areas, cities are a vital element in the study of sustainability. On the weeklong field trip to Sydney and Melbourne, students see examples of sustainability initiatives in urban settings.

Local field trips around Byron Bay
Students also undertake a number of one-day field excursions around Byron Bay and Lismore to further explore the natural environment. During these field trips, students will explore temperate and subtropical rainforests, sustainable house design, organic farming, permaculture, community gardens, and renewable energy technologies.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Byron Bay

Prerequisites: None

View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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