School navigation

Overseas and Off-Campus Programs

Australia Regional Area Study

Semester: Spring
Offered: Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020
Estimated Dates: Mid-January to late April
Program Focus: Country Study
Prerequisites: Minimum of 2.75 GPA is highly recommended.                                                                        
Housing: Varies throughout the program
Spring 2019
Program Leader:

Erik Nilsen
Associate Professor of Psychology, 503-768-7657

Spring 2020 Program Leader:

Pauls Toutonghi
Associate Professor of English
, 503-768-7404

Program Design

There are four courses comprising the Semester in Australia program: Australian Area Studies, Indigenous Australian Studies, Studies of Contemporary Australia and Australian Natural History. An interdisciplinary approach has been adopted in the design of the four courses and a focus has been placed on practical learning through excursions and field studies. The courses should not be viewed as independent units, but rather the material in each course is intended to be interdependent on material covered in other courses. All attempts will be made to help you integrate the material across all four courses.

The early part of the program will be spent in Sydney and Brisbane, where lectures and excursions are aimed to provide you with insights into the historical, political and social contexts underpinning the development of modern Australian society as well as introduce you to important contemporary issues. You will be strongly encouraged to compare and contrast the structure and functioning of Australian society with that of the United States, and critically analyse how differences between the two societies impact on their respective citizens’ lives. You will have a lecture series in Sydney, held at the University of Sydney. In Brisbane you will also have a lecture series and live in homestay with Australian families. Later in the program you will spend four days with Aboriginal people, learning first hand about elements of the traditional culture of indigenous Australians and you will also spend extended periods of time in the field, studying and experiencing life in isolated rural communities and Australia’s diverse ecosystems such as rainforests, coral reefs and arid eucalypt forests.

A substantial amount of time has been set aside in Sydney and Brisbane for private research projects. Although the projects are guided by your accompanying faculty, advice will be available on your arrival in Australia for direction to resources if required. At the end of your stay in Brisbane, there will be presentations in which you will share the findings of your research with your fellow students.

Your Australian study experience will be guided throughout by your Lewis & Clark faculty leader, Global Education Designs’ program managers and more than thirty specialists -drawn from universities, community organisations and public service bodies in Australia — who contribute to the program by sharing their expertise with you. They will be contributing to your formal learning experiences in Australia, but you will also have many opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. By visiting some of Australia’s most beautiful places and interacting with a range of people with different customs and perhaps unfamiliar lifestyles, you will have the chance to further develop your cross-cultural skills and expand your view of the world in general.

The history of Australia, the world’s smallest continent and largest island, has been molded by its aboriginal population and diverse geography as well as by emigration from Europe (especially the British Isles) and Asia.  Over the last two hundred years it has grown into a multicultural society with ninety percent of its population living in urban areas.

This physically and intellectually rigorous program pays particular attention to the role of the environment, immigration, and settlement in shaping Australia’s history and society.

Students participating in the program will become acquainted with the diversity of Australian cultures, Australia’s place in the British Empire from the early penal colonies through its participation in the two World Wars, its relations with the rest of the Pacific Rim, and the historical and contemporary dynamics of Australian ecosystems.

Based in Brisbane, study focuses on the history, literature, culture, natural history, marine biology, and contemporary issues of Australia’s urban coasts. Includes excursions to Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, rainforests, and other locations of ecological and ethnic importance. Students live in hostels, tents, and with host families.


Requirements Fulfilled: IS 290 and 291 fulfill the 8-credit International Studies general education requirement.  BIO 115 fulfills the Math & Natural Sciences Category A laboratory requirement.

Credits: 4 courses per semester/16 credits


IS 290: Area Study: Australia (4 credits)
Traces the major developments in Australia’s history from its initial settlement by the aboriginal people through European colonization and into the present.  Emphasis is on the events that played a major role in shaping contemporary Australian society and Australia’s current relationships with East Asia, the United States, and the British Commonwealth.  Topics include Australian literature, non-indigenous art, exploration and settlement, military history, and political and social institutions.

IS 291: Contemporary Australia (4 credits)
Provides insight into important contemporary social issues, including population demographics, multiculturalism, gender issues, treatment of indigenous peoples, family and youth issues, crime and violence.

IS 292: Aboriginal Studies (4 credits)
Investigations of the evolution of human society in Australia, cultural diversity among indigenous peoples, social organization, ceremonies and art, spiritual life, material culture, gender roles, and relationship to the land. 

BIO 115: Explorations in Regional Biology: Australia
Field and marine biology and flora of eastern Australia.  Includes study of rainforests, eucalyptus forests, fire ecology, coral reef ecology, and animal behavior field studies.

Relationship to On-Campus Curriculum: The Australia program provides unique opportunities for students who are interested in ecology, in environmental, cross-cultural and imperial history, and in ethnic studies; it also offers a comparative perspective on democratic political institutions, Pacific Rim international relations, and socialized health care. As such, the program is attractive to students majoring in Biology, Environmental Studies, Sociology/Anthropology, History, Political Science, International Affairs, Economics, Communications, and Psychology.


Fee Breakdown:

Overseas Program Fee (includes tuition, room & board, excursions, and supplemental health insurance): $31,112

Stipend: Students will receive a stipend to cover the cost of meals and transportation costs not covered by the program fee.

Estimated Airfare (Round Trip PDX to SYD): $1,500 - $2,000

Estimated Health Insurance Fee: $1,275.50*

*All students participating in overseas programs are automatically enrolled in iNext, a supplemental travel insurance program. The fee for iNext is covered in the program cost. However, students are also required to have comprehensive health insurance during their time abroad. All students participating in overseas programs, both abroad and domestic, are automatically enrolled in the College’s student health insurance program. Similar to a regular semester on-campus, students participating in overseas programs may waive enrollment in the student health insurance program if they have other comprehensive health insurance (e.g., through a parent, guardian or employer) that 1) provides coverage for them in the geographic region in which they will be studying and 2) includes mental health benefits. Click here for more information regarding Health Insurance Information & Overseas Programs.

Program Preparation

Application Process: Applications are due one year before the start of the program.

Visa: Students will be required to apply for a visa in order to participate in this program. More information will be provided upon admission to the program.

Country-Specific Health Information: Click here to view specific health information for people traveling to Australia.

State Department Country Information: Click here to visit the State Department’s Australia page.


Blog Feed: Australia

  • November 16, 2017 at 7:46pm
    I’m very excited about my upcoming time in Australia. I’m beyond stoked to be immersed in a new culture, and to be in a completely different environment. The place I am most excited to visit is Tasmania. In all honesty, I have no idea what to expect, but that’s all apart of the adventure. The […]
  • November 16, 2017 at 7:35pm
    Of all the places we will travel on our adventure in Australis, I am most excited about seeing the Great Barrier Reef! I grew up listening to David Attenborough talk about coral neighbors and box jellyfish on the reef and answering the  “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  question with ‘marine […]
  • November 16, 2017 at 7:35pm
    Going to Australia, there are so many places to see, but one particular area that I can’t wait to experience is the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve been fascinated with the ocean and the ecology of it for my entire life, with a dream of seeing the Great Barrier. As this ecosystem is changing, I feel […]
  • November 16, 2017 at 7:33pm
    Hello, I’m Amelia and I am one on the students attending the Spring 2018 Australia Biology Trip. Now it’s time for… Everyone’s favorite writing assignment: What is one place you look forward to visiting on your trip?  I am very excited to visit Tasmania.  We talked about the devils in class freshman year and I […]
  • November 16, 2017 at 7:32pm
    When I think of Australia I am overwhelmed with the possibilities for biodiversity and diverse landscapes. I am so excited to explore it all. It is really hard to choose just one spot. But if I had to pick just one, I would say the Great Barrier reef. This is the place that I have […]
  • November 16, 2017 at 7:31pm
    I am most excited to visit the rainforests of Queensland. I have traveled to many places in my life, but I have never experienced a tropical rainforest ecosystem.  I am excited to get out of my comfort zone, and experience a new culture for such a long time. I am also very excited to see so many […]
  • November 16, 2017 at 7:31pm
    Australia is like no place I’ve ever been, so honestly I’m excited to go anywhere and everywhere. The Blue Mountains, Sydney, the beach, I’m excited to eat breakfast in the dining hall or sit on my host family’s couch with some vegemite. However one place I’m particularly excited to see is Tasmania! Hopefully we’ll see […]
  • November 16, 2017 at 7:30pm
    I am traveling to Australia in the Spring of 2018, and I want to visit Kangaroo Island and Melbourne if given the opportunity to do so in order to experience both city life and unique natural areas. I am excited about being able to interact with species I would normally be unable to see in […]
  • November 16, 2017 at 7:30pm
    I am excited to visit the Great Barrier Reef, as well as other sites full of Australian wildlife. I am very excited to see Sydney and do some exploring, but I am nervous about travelling.
  • November 16, 2017 at 7:29pm
    I’m looking forward to visiting the Great Barrier Reef. It’s on my bucket list and I’m excited to see it before it (possibly) disappears. I’m excited to travel the majority of Eastern Australia. Most abroad programs stay in one place, so I’m excited to move around and see a lot of the country. I’m a […]


-27.470811; 153.022623