Rainforest ecosystems are a “hot spot” for biodiversity, and provide humans with clean air, water, food, and medicines. Still, thousands of acres disappear each day. Large areas of northeastern Queensland, Australia, were once covered in spectacular rainforests, preserving millions of years of evolutionary history. Timber extraction, farming, and development have destroyed and disrupted these rainforest ecosystems and habitats. Many of Australia’s tropical forests and species are now protected under World Heritage legislation; however, they face threats due to climate change and invasive species.
The Rainforest Studies program builds understanding of the dynamics of rainforest ecosystems, including the potential impact of global climate change. The goal of the program 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.
Student research 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 learn field research techniques as they collect data on:
- Potential responses to global climate change
- Habitat use and animal behaviors
- Resilience to disturbance
- Local resident involvement in restoration projects
- Cost-effective and ecologically beneficial methods of restoration
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You will receive credit for all academic courses taken at this institution, and all of your grades from abroad will count toward your Penn State cumulative GPA. You may not take any courses overseas on a Pass/Fail basis. Students may not take sport or physical activity courses (e.g. sailing, bowling, yoga, etc.) abroad. These courses will not be credited at Penn State.
Courses offered on this program include:
To see what kind of credit students in past semesters have received for courses taken on this program, visit the SFS Australia Course Equivalency List. You will need to complete the course equivalency process once you have been accepted to your program and after you have completed your registration abroad. To obtain specific instructions on this process visit our Course Equivalencies page. To learn how the courses on this program can work into your individual degree audit, meet with your academic adviser.
- SFS 3690 Rainforest Ecology (4 credits)
- SFS 3700 Principles of Forest Management (4 credits)
- SFS 3020 Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values (4 credits)
- SFS 4910 Directed Research (4 credits)
Successful applicants will satisfy the pre-requisites established by the program.
- 2.8 GPA
- At least one semester of college completed before the start of the program
- One semester college-level ecology, biology, environmental studies/science, or related course
Academic coursework in cultural anthropology, economics, basic statistics, ecology, and rural sociology is not required, but great to have taken prior to the program. It is helpful for students to arrive with a familiarity of concepts such as ecosystem services, livelihood strategies, resilience, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and trade-offs and synergies between conservation and development.
The Center for Rainforest Studies is located in a remote area of Australia. Students should be prepared to encounter the hazards of the rainforest. Flexibility is essential.
Students in the College of Agricultural Sciences should speak with the Study Abroad Coordinator within the College of Agricultural Sciences Office of International Programs when preparing to study abroad.
Housing and Meals
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. Student cabins are nestled within mature rainforest, which comprises a third of the property's 153 acres. Sightings of tropical birds, bandicoots, pademelons, primitive musky rat kangaroo, amethystine pythons, and other unique rainforest species are common.
Students share furnished eight-person cabins with a separate shower and bathroom block. The main building of the field station has a library, computer laboratory, Internet access, a student common room, laundry facitlities, a kitchen and outdoor dining areas. Evening meals are prepared by a cook, while other times food is prepared by School for Field Studies staff and students.
For more information on program costs, please be sure to review the fall budget sheet and spring budget sheet. These budget sheets include information on costs that are billable to the bursar bill, as well as estimated additional costs. Costs vary by program, so it is important to review this information carefully.
Please note that tuition rates may vary depending on major and class standing.
Financial Aid & Scholarships
Penn State students studying through Education Abroad can use most components of their existing financial aid packages toward the cost of study abroad. This may include federal and state grants, VA educational benefits, federal student loans, and University scholarships and grants. Notable exceptions include work-study awards and some athletic scholarships.
The University Office of Global Programs also administers a number of grants and scholarships. Eligibility is based on academic excellence and/or financial need. There is also funding available for study abroad programs in diverse locations and for students from diverse backgrounds. In most cases, applicants should have a current year FAFSA on file with the Office of Student Aid. Funding opportunities may also be available through Penn State academic departments. For detailed information on financial aid and scholarship opportunities and application procedures, please visit the Funding Study Abroad section of the Global Penn State website.
For More Information
For more information about programs and education abroad at Penn State, we encourage you to meet with or contact our Peer Advisers. These study abroad returnees can explain program options, give an overview of the education abroad process, as well as provide information about his/her program. If you are not at University Park, contact your Campus Global Representative.
To learn more about the specifics of each program, schedule an appointment with the education abroad adviser for this program.
For the inside scoop on life in a foreign country, be sure to check out the GeoBlogs of Penn State students currently studying abroad.
How to Apply
If you would like to participate on this study abroad program, you will need to apply to Penn State Education Abroad by clicking the "Apply Now" button on this page.
You must complete the following materials in your application:
Visit the How to Apply section of our website for more information.
- Education Abroad Questionnaire
- One academic recommendation
- Signature Documents
Studying Abroad with a Disability
Many students with disabilities successfully study abroad each year. Please note that other cultures may have different attitudes and available accommodations regarding disabilities. While we cannot guarantee the accessibility of all program sites and locations, specific accommodations may be arranged in consultation with our office, the Student Disability Resources office, and our partners abroad. To prepare for success, students are strongly encouraged to research the country and program location to consider if and how they will manage their disabilities abroad in advance of selecting a program. Students with disabilities and other diverse backgrounds can begin their research on our Diversity Awareness Abroad page.
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