Australia Course

NSC 1940 -- The Natural and Social History of Australia

In this four-week exploration of Australia, students learn about its natural history: geology, geography, flora, fauna, and early human migration; and its social history: Aboriginal culture, European colonization, Australian government, and its place in world affairs.


Weblogs and journals for previous courses
A brief history of the Australia course

Professor Larry Stephens created the course in 2000 at the request of a student who was interested in Australian wildlife. Larry designed much of the course around the Oz Experience, a tour company that catered to backpackers. Nineteen students went the first year. Charlie was lucky enough to be included as a faculty member.

In 2003, Larry changed the design of the course, shifting from the bus tour to air travel. This format has remain unchanged to the present, though certain parameters do vary.  Some years feature an overnight train trip on the Sunlander from Brisbane to Cairns, permitting a most relaxing view of the subtropics available.  In 2011, the course began and ended at Los Angeles rather than Elmira, permitting students the chance to take advantage of bargain airfares for the transcontinental flight.  We did this again in 2013.  In 2014, we will board the flight at JFK and return there to complete the travel portion of the course.

The course has been offered every year since 2000, and has run every year except 2007. The course has attracted sufficient student interest that the College has been able to send two or more faculty members every year except in 2002, 2003, 2009, and 2010. In 2005, we had an enrollment of 36 students, and Dale Powers joined Larry and Charlie as the third faculty member on the course for that year. 

Larry moved on to design and offer a travel course to Ireland, and Charlie took over managing the Australia course in 2008. He and Dale Powers took 23 students that year. Charlie took 14 students in 2009, and 15 students in 2010. In 2011, Coleen Jacobson joined the course along with 17 students.  In 2012, biologist Lynn Gillie accompanied 19 students and Charlie.  In 2013, Charlie Mitchell, our professor of American Studies, joined Charlie on the course, along with 17 students.  Charlie will manage the course alone in 2014.