UGA down under

UGA’s Office of Studies Abroad in the South Pacific and Caribbean is housed in the Daniel B. Warnell School of Forest Resources and represents one of the largest study abroad initiatives in the United States. Programs are offered throughout the year, and an information session will be held Thursday, Feb. 16 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in 214 Student Learning Center for students who are considering these locations for a study abroad experience.

“In our programs, students live and travel in a country where they experience what sustainable development means first-hand,” says Program Director Michael A. Tarrant. “We climb glaciers that are receding meters every day. We snorkel the corals of the Great Barrier Reef and see just how much they are being impacted by global warming. We stay with local Fijians in villages where both sides get opportunities to — for the first time — form friendships with people so totally different from them. We swim with dolphins on the Kaikoura continental shelf to develop an intimate understanding of marine wildlife behaviors, and we head to the tip of the sub-Antarctic islands to see what nature looks like in a pristine and prehistoric environment.”

The programs adopt a multi-disciplinary perspective and credit is available in several majors including agriculture and applied economics, anthropology, ecology, forest resources, geography, international affairs, marine sciences, and recreation and leisure studies.

“Our mission is to promote global humility: Nurturing a love and respect for the diverse peoples and environments of the world to which we all belong,” Tarrant says.

In 2005 alone, over 320 students participated in programs ranging from 8 days to 12 weeks in length in places like Australia, Belize, Fiji, and New Zealand. A new program to Antarctica is scheduled for fall term 2006.

The UGA Studies Abroad in the South Pacific and Caribbean program is taught by faculty from WSFR including Bruce Bongarten, Gary Green, Ron Hendrick, David Newman, and Laurie Schimleck. Faculty from outside the WSFR also participate.

“Without the support of faculty from across campus in particular former Program Co-Director Alex Brewis-Slade (now with Arizona State University), UGA’s Office of International Education, as well as the foresight of Provost Mace, who first initiated and supported development of the South Pacific programs while dean of the Warnell School of Forest Resources, we would not have grown to where we are today,” said Tarrant. “In line with President Adams’ goal for study abroad, we are helping UGA become one of the leading institutions in the country for international education and enjoying every minute of it.”