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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: Regional Area 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:

Total Fee (includes Tuition & Program Fee): $32,334

Tuition: $25,287

Program Fee: $7,047*

*Included in the program fee are room/housing, board/meals, field trips, administrative fees, and supplemental health insurance. Not included are airfare, passport and visa expenses, primary insurance coverage, photographs, books, immunizations, and incidentals.

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

  • February 18, 2018 at 2:43pm
    Finally, it was time. The day we first went into the water. After spending an intense few days studying the different kinds of fish for Scott Ling’s fish quiz and being relieved when we found out it was a much more casual (and non graded) affair, we finally had the chance to get in the […]
  • February 18, 2018 at 2:44am
    Today we got to sleep in a bit without the anticipation of a long hike ahead of us. Right at 9 am we were all ready to go back into the bush! Literally. This time though, we had a task: identify and describe in detail two different plants we encountered today from two different families […]
  • February 17, 2018 at 10:06pm
    WOW! Feb 12 was an adventure. It all started the day before (Feb 11) when Sierra and I chatted with our hostel receptionist about potential travel plans for the day. The receptionist, later to become our new friend, Laurence, suggested that he could show us around some natural sea cliffs near Port Arthur, Tas. We […]
  • February 12, 2018 at 4:00am
    (2/11/18) After a jam-packed week and a half in Tasmania exploring the island of Maria and the national park in Maydena, we had our first free day in Hobart. I think I speak for us all when I say that we all took advantage of the morning to sleep in and recover from the fast […]
  • February 12, 2018 at 3:11am
                After three amazing weeks of exploring Sydney, we were ready to begin a new adventure. On the first day of February, we flew to Hobart – a city located on the biggest Australian island, Tasmania. Right after we landed, we took a bus, and then a ferry, to get to a much smaller island […]
  • February 11, 2018 at 5:07pm
    Today (February 6) we went on a 10-hour (about 10.5 miles) hike through the Tasmanian alpine at Mount Field to learn about various plants found in that ecosystem. On our hike, we saw beautiful natural pools and lakes carved out by glaciers thousands of years ago, obscure looking conifers, and dolerite boulder fields. We learned […]
  • January 31, 2018 at 12:00pm
    A day after we went on a tour exploring the Aboriginal history of Sydney, we went to see a piece of the other side: the Hyde Park Barracks. Now a museum, the Hyde Park Barracks were originally a convict-designed and convict-built housing construction. Regardless of its past, I can safely say that we were all […]
  • January 31, 2018 at 3:28am
    Today was our first full day in the Blue Mountains, and we boarded a bus for the Jenolan Caves! After a a gorgeous but slightly nerve racking bus ride down the thin and windy roads of the pass, we arrived at the caves. While we waited for Nat to settle the details of our tour, […]
  • January 31, 2018 at 3:09am
    We had the fantastic opportunity to visit the Australian Museum in downtown Sydney, which happens to be the oldest museum in Australia. The first thing we got to see was an extremely moving and emotional exhibit dedicated to the Indigenous peoples of Australia. We saw historical accounts of the horrors and hardships faced by the […]
  • January 30, 2018 at 10:52pm
    For our last day in the Blue Mountains, we packed up all our stuff to get ready for the drive back to Sydney. Before we left the Blue Mountains, we went on a bush walk into the Grand Canyon. We started at the top and walked down into the valley, noticing how the vegetation and […]


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