Earth Expeditions

Australia: Great Barrier Reef

Dive into the conservation and education opportunities of the Great Barrier Reef, the global center of marine biodiversity.

Course Details
Planned dates in
Queensland, Australia:

No courses currently planned for 2022

On the Web: May – December
Credits: 7 graduate credits from Miami University; course can be applied to the Global Field Program.
Course Cost: Projected 2022 Field course (in-country + web): $3,275 (price includes tuition for 5 graduate credits and in-country costs) airfare to Townsville, Australia + $500 additional course support costs.

Projected 2022 Fall project course (web, required): $790 (price includes tuition for 2 graduate credits)

Snorkel included; SCUBA certification is not required for this course. Accepted students who opt to participate in SCUBA during the course will need to complete SCUBA (at least Open Water Diver) certification at their own expense before the course starts. SCUBA diving insurance and equipment rental during the course at your own expense.

Course Overview

One of the seven wonders of the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef lies in the clear blue waters off the northeast coast of Australia. Spanning 14 degrees of latitude, this complex reef system is not only the greatest expanse of coral in the world, it is the Earth’s largest living structure, a massive, beautiful, and ancient biological phenomenon of bewildering diversity and immense ecological significance. Habitats within the reef mosaic include the coral reefs themselves (some 3,000 individual reefs), sponge gardens, sea grasses, mangroves, continental islands, and coral cays, which together help support a rich assemblage of marine and terrestrial life, including more than 1,500 species of fish, 200 species of birds, six species of sea turtles, whales, dolphins, and dugongs.

This graduate course program is offered jointly with Reef HQ Aquarium, Australia’s National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef. Reef HQ Aquarium is a unit of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which holds responsibility for the management and conservation of the Great Barrier Reef. Located in Townsville, Queensland, Reef HQ Aquarium houses the world’s largest living coral reef exhibit.

During the field portion of this course, we will spend much of our time exploring the aquarium, venturing forth on several excursions for direct research on the Great Barrier Reef, and hiking in some of Australia’s unique terrestrial habitats. Discussion topics include a range of marine science issues, as well as citizen engagement in marine science and environmental stewardship.

Reef HQ Aquarium promotes reef stewardship through public exhibits, field programs, sustainability certification for tour operators, reef videoconferencing, and through school initiatives such as the successful Reef Guardian program, which engages hundreds of schools in reef conservation. Reef HQ Aquarium is also increasing its sea country partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people to support traditional ecological knowledge and stewardship of the reef environment. This course supports advanced study of coral reefs as well as on-land participation in integrated methods for involving communities in the preservation of marine environments.

Prior to and following the field experience in Australia, students will complete coursework via Dragonfly Workshops Web-Based Learning Community as they apply experiences to their home institutions.