School navigation

Overseas and Off-Campus Programs

Australia Regional Area Study

Semester: Spring
Offered: 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, IS 291 and IS 292 fulfill the 8-credit International Studies general education requirement. BIO 115 fulfills the Scientific & Quantitative Reasoning Category A general education requirement (may not be applied to the Biology major).

Credits: 16 credits (4 courses)


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 (4 credits)
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.


2018-2019 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, and administrative fees. Not included are airfare, passport and visa expenses, primary insurance coverage, photographs, books, immunizations, and incidentals. 

*Fees are updated every February for the following academic year.

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 & 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

  • April 18, 2018 at 6:55pm
    Another day in paradise. Today marked our third day on Lady Elliot Island, and it’s easy to see that we’re all getting used to this. Waking up early isn’t a challenge with the bright sun and the cacophony of seabirds, but for once no one is upset, as our first activity is a quick snorkel […]
  • April 18, 2018 at 5:32pm
    Today marked our last day at Carnarvon, with our next stop to be the Great Barrier Reef. Although we’ve stayed at Carnarvon Gorge longer than expected due to the cyclone off the eastern coast, it allowed us to explore even more of the beautiful park. We were woken again by the sounds of Laughing Kookaburras, […]
  • April 17, 2018 at 9:14pm
    April 7, 2018 Our first full day on Great Kepple Island! We spent the morning in lecture learning about coral, coral reefs (there’s a difference!), conservation and the general weather trends that can dictate the biogeography of the ocean. While some had come into this program with invertebrate knowledge from classes at Lewis and Clark, […]
  • April 17, 2018 at 4:50pm
    On April 10th I woke up to the sound of the train wheels clacking. It was 5:30 in the morning. I was so tired but also so thrilled to be traveling to a new destination. Soon after we woke from the comfy and unique accommodation of the train, we all gathered our belongings and hopped […]
  • March 15, 2018 at 3:53pm
    Go Reds! This Friday we attended a Queensland Reds vs Australian Capital Territory Brumbies rugby union game. Before attending, we had a “crash course rugby” lecture by local rugby fan Ken (Nat’s partner). I’ve included the highlights from the lecture for your future rugby needs. Basics of the game  There are 15 players on the […]
  • March 15, 2018 at 7:11am
    February 24: Sailing to Straddie Today we left our cozy apartments in Brisbane and headed east for North Stradbroke Island. The island, which is a large tourist destination for many Australians, is a sand island across Moreton bay. To reach it, we took a short ferry ride and hopped off on the island, but it […]
  • March 2, 2018 at 4:22pm
    As I begin this post, I’d like to acknowledge the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community and the people of the Hobart area, Muwinina country. As we spend time in this area, we bring with us respect and acknowledgment of the true people of this land.   Today we made our way to Hobart, leaving behind the platypus […]
  • March 1, 2018 at 12:30am
    Waking up in Lamington Plateau means waking up to brilliant sunshine and the chorus of hundreds of birds singing in the trees above your head. The air smells like the rich soils still wet from the overnight storm, and you can hear the sweet sound of bacon sizzling in the kitchen tent. As half the […]
  • February 28, 2018 at 11:04pm
    For our second day at North Stradbroke Island, we had a lecture where we learned about the flora of the island. For example, the mangrove forests and the 18 mile swamp. We then visited the mangrove forests after morning tea. At the mangrove forests we walked down a small creek and noticed how the species […]
  • February 28, 2018 at 2:55pm
    Our final day at Lamington Plateau began with a morning full of field activities and invertebrate study. We learned how to gather arachnids such as the funnel web spider by digging into the ground with a trowel and removing the spider from its burrow. We learned how to sift leaf litter and soil to look […]