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ASU to offer field biology, psychology courses in Australia

Jan. 8, 2008 -
- If you have dreamed of experiencing the real and amazing Australians and their fascinating country, this may be your year. Arkansas State University has partnered with the non-profit organization AustraLearn to offer participants a summer semester abroad that combines high-quality educational and travel experiences.

Australia, called the “Southern Star," is the only country that is also a continent. This ancient and once isolated land is host to a diverse
range of habitats, from hostile arid deserts to lush tropical rainforests with equally varied plants and animals. Cuddly koalas munch on odorous eucalyptus leaves, warm-blooded and furry platypuses lay eggs instead of bearing live young, and huge flightless emus strut across the landscape.

Then there are the other curious mammals—Australians themselves. Australians have created a global image of grilling on the barbie, saying “G’day,” and keeping a good sense of humor. The historical and cultural interplay between aboriginal people and European settlers adds another unique aspect to this fascinating place.

ASU assistant professor Amy R. Pearce will lead the trip. Pearce graduated from ASU with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in biology, then lived in
Australia for more 4 years and earned her PhD from the Australian National University in Canberra.

On June 2, the group will depart from Memphis for a 21-day summer semester in the Land Down Under. The trip begins in Sydney with a three-day city tour that includes a visit to Sydney Tower. Students will also have time to see the beaches and the famously layered Opera House overlooking Sydney Harbor. They will begin learning about Australia’s flora and fauna through visits and lectures at the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Taronga Park Zoo. The group will move on to the scenic Blue Mountains, taking an ecologically friendly tour of this region named for the color of the oil that escapes from the eucalyptus leaves and glimmers in the sun’s rays.

Later that week, the group will travel inland to the nation’s inland capital, Canberra. Here they will settle into their accommodations in the heart of the city near Parliament House in preparation for the classroom portion of the program.

Pearce will teach two courses, each for three undergraduate credit hours: Cultural Psychology and a course in Australian Flora and Fauna. Cultural Psychology will focus on issues of how human culture impacts the individual’s behavior, attitudes, and mental health. Classroom study will be supplemented with interactions with local experts and visits to historic sites such as the National Gallery.

For the biology course in Australian Flora and Fauna, students will complete standard coursework but will also conduct field research and participate in a volunteer program with Conservation Volunteers Australia.

While in Canberra, classes will meet Monday through Thursday afternoons for two consecutive weeks. Three-day weekends will be open so students can explore Australia’s wonders on their own. Recommended excursions include a visit to Melbourne, a drive along the Great Ocean Road, or a trip to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory to visit the famous red monolith Ayers Rock, known by the aborigines as Uluru. The nearby Snowy Mountains also provide visitors excellent opportunities for downhill skiing and snowboarding.

In the final week of the ASU-sponsored trip, participants have the option to fly north to Cairns, Queensland to snorkel along the Great Barrier Reef, a natural wonder that is home to abundant and exotic marine life. The group will return to Memphis on June 24, 2008.

The three-week program will cost an estimated $4,861 per student, based on 15 participants. Included in the price are round-trip airfare, all accommodations, some meals, pre-arranged domestic and international travel, entry fees to most sites, and 3 hours of undergraduate tuition. Graduate students can also arrange to earn class credit through this program. This program is also open to non-ASU students and community members. A limited number of scholarships are available.

This program will provide participants with an unforgettable international experience. By combining Sydney and its iconic opera house, the nation’s capital, and the Great Barrier Reef, participants will gain an incredible perspective on a diverse nation.

Applications are being accepted now through February 15. Please contact ASU Study Abroad advisor Carl Lindquist at 870-972-3168 or for more information.

Amy R. Pearce is an assistant professor of Psychology at ASU. Carl Lindquist is a Study Abroad advisor in the ASU Office of International Programs.


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