Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 69.87
Liaison Kevin Kirsche
Submission Date June 22, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Georgia
AC-5: Immersive Experience

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Tyra Byers
Program Coordinator
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution offer at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program that is one week or more in length?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive program(s) offered by the institution:
UGA Discover Abroad
Discover Abroad provides students with an engaging and experiential educational-travel opportunity to some of the world’s most dramatic places. We focus on broad questions of how humans interact with the natural environment, with a view to understanding how we may live more sustainably. The programs are generally 25% classroom and 75% field-based with extensive travel to experience as much of the destination as possible.

Our programs also provide unique opportunities for students to develop a relationship with special places around the globe. This is very different than simply being educational tourists – our goal is for you to experience a place through nurturing an intimate relationship with its people and the environment. Consequently, we combine field activities with multiple forms of instruction that together help foster your professional and personal development.

Maymester Austrailia and New Zealand
Visit two worlds in one program! This program focuses on sustainable development with electives in natural history, animal behavior, or business sustainability in both Australia and New Zealand. The Australia portion of the program includes Sydney, considered one of the world’s best places to live and play, the Great Barrier Reef (where we stay at the eco-resort of Lady Elliot Island), the vast expanse of the Outback (to explore the wildlife and indigenous art of Carnarvon Gorge), and the surfing beach town of Noosa (Sunshine Coast). Click here to watch a three-minute video of the program.

May Add-on Fiji: Eco-Tourism and Sustainability
Fiji is an exotic and fascinating nation steeped in Pacific, British, and Indian culture that spans millennia; it is also often named the world’s happiest country. Our program delves into the cultural conflicts that have defined the landscape with the goal of placing students beyond the “tourist bubble.”
Specifically, we focus on the intersection of sustainable tourism development with service-learning, by staying in a remote island eco-resort and Fijian village. Service-learning has become a cornerstone of higher education and students graduating with an international experience in service-learning strongly improve their chances of finding employment related to their field.

Summer in Austrailia
Human health and environmental sustainability are inextricably interwoven with each other, and also with the cultural practices and understandings in which they are embedded. The ways in which we communicate about health — from public health campaigns about smoking and alcohol use, to climate change actions or to birthing rituals conducted by indigenous healers — likewise interact with culture and environment. Australia’s Sydney and Far Northeast Queensland offer ideal laboratories for comparing and contrasting cultures (notably Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islanders, and western) and environments (Great Barrier Reef, rainforest, and Outback) to understand the relation between sustainability and public health.
We begin the program with a few days in Sydney, considered one of the world’s best cities to live and play, taking classes and local field trips with UGA faculty and Australian experts, and visiting iconic places such as the Opera House and Harbor Bridge. From Sydney we travel to Far Northeast Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, where we explore Western approaches to health from cultural, economic, and environmental perspectives. We then travel to the rainforest and to the Outback to investigate Aboriginal perspectives to sustaining healthy communities and environments.

Summer in England and Scotland
We begin our program with a week in the historic college town of Cambridge, England where we take classes at the prestigious Cambridge University. This is followed by a two and one-half week educational tour of London (including the Houses of Parliament), Stonehenge (considered the world’s most famous prehistoric monument), Mendip Hills (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), the Peak District (Britain’s first national park), Lake District (arguably the most well-known British national park), Loch Ness (and the Highlands of Scotland) and Edinburgh (including the castle) to explore the issue of sustainability from the perspective of human–environment relations across time. The program is mostly travel-based, experiential and field-oriented and allows you to draw upon your own backgrounds to understand the political, economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainability using an integrated perspective.

Summer in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Live and study for a week inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) at the end of the Summer and just before the Fall Semester begins. This experiential field-based program is appropriate for students of all disciplines and for anyone with an interest in the natural and cultural history of the Southern Appalachia. More specifically, the course will expose students to a variety of on-going and innovative programs, using hands-on, practical experiences, to explore the scope of human – environment relationships in the most visited national park in the country. The Park is our outdoor classroom and there will be a number of guided hikes, including the high country and cultural trips (including Cades Cove), during the week. For more information about our accommodations and where we stay in the Park, check out Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont.

Winter Break in Australia
Avoid mid-Winter in the U.S. and enjoy a few weeks of summer in Australia on this study abroad program that explores human/cultural and environment relations from a sustainable development perspective. Sustainability is a defining global issue and, over the past several decades, Australia has made critical advances in green politics, economics and lifestyle behaviors, as well as in indigenous relations and in recognising the nation as a multi-cultural society, to become one of the most progressive countries in the world. We focus on four distinctly different communities: Marine life of the Great Barrier Reef, Aboriginal culture in the Outback, eco-tourism development of the Sunshine Coast, and the urban metropolises of Sydney and Brisbane.

Spring Semester Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii
Avoid winter in the U.S. and enjoy the South Pacific summer in Australia, Fiji, Hawaii, and New Zealand. Our Spring Semester program is an integrated mega course in Humans and the Environment that provides credits in anthropology, ecology, human geography, and international affairs (with optional courses in natural resources and physical education). We apply an experiential education approach where you are in the field exploring what you have learned in the classroom through the cases of the Big Island of Hawaii, the South and North islands of New Zealand, the Fijian islands, and Sydney and Queensland in Australia. By participating in this program you can also save money by not paying rent for the Spring Semester and having a longer summer to work/study until Fall Semester begins. Click here to watch a three minute video of the Australia and New Zealand portions of the program.

Spring Break in Hawaii
We explore the spirituality, biogeography, culture, and geology of Hawai’i with particular emphasis on sustainable development. The program begins in the culturally rich town of Hilo for introductory classes and field trips, before traveling to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to hike the crater and watch night-time coastal lava flow – one of the very few places in the world to see such a spectacle. We then travel along the coast to understand formation of the black, green, and golden beaches scattered throughout the big island (including Hapuna Beach, considered one of the world’s best beaches), snorkel Kealakekua Bay (site of Captain Cook’s demise), and visit Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park (the historic and cultural place of refuge for Hawaiians).

Website URL where information about the institution’s immersive education programs is available:
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