Get hands-on field experience in Australia’s remote Outback studying the ecology of the region’s desert aquatic and terrestrial environments as well as how they’re managed. Designed for students interested in ecology and environmental science, this hybrid program combines 6 weeks of online lessons before heading to Australia for an 11-day study abroad experience and research project out in the field at the majestic West MacDonnell National Park, also known as Tjoritja. Held in conjunction with Charles Darwin University (CDU), a leader in sustainability studies, the unique program allows students to immerse themselves in the course content and gain on-the-ground experience to receive college credit while also benefiting from a lower cost and shorter time commitment abroad than most study abroad programs. 


Enjoy the opportunity to study abroad in Australia with a lower program cost and shortened schedule while earning full course credit

Spend a week in the country, including 7 full days gaining hands-on fieldwork experience at different sites in the Outback, before finishing the second two weeks of the program as an online course

Travel between a traditional university campus in Alice Springs to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park

Study at an innovative university quickly becoming known for its commitment to social justice, sustainability and creativity


About the course

This course is taught both online and via a 7-day field trip in Australia with 11 days total spent in-country. The course begins online 4 weeks prior to the field trip and finishes 2 weeks post-field trip.

ENV315 Desert Field Ecology

The Desert Field Ecology Central Australia program focuses on the ecology and management of the most pristine and endangered desert aquatic and terrestrial environments in central Australia. The program with 4 weeks of online learning and reading from the comfort of your own home before embarking on an Australian adventure  for a research project with 7 full days in the field starting at Charles Darwin University’s Alice Springs Campus and then onto the spectacular World Heritage listed Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park. You will learn how to conduct camera trapping, survey aquatic vertebrates and invertebrates, birds and mammals, and assess the health and resilience of Australia’s iconic river red gum populations. Once you return home, you will submit online reports and tests that will be assessed by your CDU program coordinator to earn credit towards your home degree.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit a student should be able to:

  • Critically evaluate and apply current knowledge of desert ecology and ecosystems to inform effective management or understanding of arid-zone ecological systems.
  • Evaluate the importance of experimental design for solving complex ecological questions.
  • Develop expertise in field skills used in ecological, biological and landscape studies.
  • Plan, implement and manage the collection, compilation and analysis of accurate field data.
  • Demonstrate leadership through initiative and engaging with others to achieve common goals.
  • Effectively communicate ecological information in a range of formats and for different audiences.

To request a syllabus complete this form and indicate the name of the course (Australian Environment, Wildlife and Conservation) you need the syllabus for.


Christine Schlesinger is an ecologist based at Charles Darwin University’s desert campus in Alice Springs specialising in desert environments with an emphasis on the ecology and conservation of vertebrate animals. She seeks to understand interactions between contemporary threats to desert fauna, such as introduced plants and animals, increased fire and a changing climate.  She is particularly interested in how climatic variability determines local strategies for conservation and land management, both on and off reserves and in promoting a stronger voice and better opportunities for Indigenous peoples’ involvement in conservation and land management. Christine coordinates CDU’s Bachelor of Environmental Science degree and teaches ecology and wildlife management. She also leads the Arid Zone Wildlife Ecology & Conservation research group.

Transcripts & Credits

This course is taught by Charles Darwin University in Australia. The transcript will be provided by Charles Darwin University. CDU is an Australian government university established in 2003.



Travel from Darwin to Alice Springs to spend the night at CDU before beginning the program. On Monday you’ll be introduced to the course and jump right into beginning fieldwork at sites near Alice Springs. Spend the rest of the week conducting fieldwork at various sites, including Tjoritja National Park. The last several days of the program will see time for data compilation and finalization, as well as go over expectations for final reports, which are due two weeks after the field trip portion.



  • 2.5 GPA
  • Currently enrolled at an approved degree-granting institution of higher education.



Accommodation is in shared rooms (twin or triple share) at Charles Darwin University’s Alice Springs campus and at Glen Helen Resort.

Dates, Fees & Inclusions

Application Deadline

TEAN has a rolling admissions process. We recommend submitting your application anytime from January for Summer applications. Earlier applications will be accepted. Late applications may be considered. Contact TEAN if the application deadline has passed.

Summer 2022

This program is not running Summer 2022. Check back for future programs.

What’s Included

  • Tuition (4-credits on a Charles Darwin University transcript)
  • Accommodation
  • Airport transfers and all course-related ground transport
  • Overseas health insurance, plus evacuation and repatriation insurance
  • Pre-departure planning sessions and assistance from U.S.-based TEAN staff including pre-departure guidance for students

What’s Not Included

  • Airfares (Budget approx $1,850 – 2,200)


TEAN Scholarships

Apply for TEAN scholarships – starting at $1,000 – for the chance to receive money specifically for studying abroad. Each year we award thousands of dollars in need- and merit-based scholarships, diversity scholarships, a full ride scholarship and more. Visit our scholarships page for details!

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