“I came to change the world and the world changed me”
Get ready to be amazed, challenged, and transformed when you leave a traditional college classroom and join The School for Field Studies (SFS) in the field for a semester or summer undergraduate study abroad program experience.
The remote locations in which we operate, from the world-class national parks of East Africa and pristine Caribbean coral reefs to World Heritage rainforests and the lush Himalayan mountain ridges, offer some of the most important and bio-diverse ecosystems in the world. They are your classrooms with boundless opportunities for learning and personal growth.
An SFS undergraduate study abroad program begins with identifying the critical environmental issues that often plague these natural wonders. Coral reef degradation from encroaching tourism in the Turks and Caicos Islands, the effects of climate change on Australia’s tropical rainforests, and human/wildlife land-use conflicts in Kenya all threaten complex networks that humans and wildlife alike depend upon for habitat and resources.
Our unique environmental programs and rigorous academic curriculums are designed to make you reach across disciplines and draw the connections between social and natural systems. What do Buddhist monks think about timber production in Bhutan? How do government officials in Costa Rica balance the need for biodiversity conservation and economic growth? Are commercial fishers in the Turks and Caicos able to benefit from protection of the same species they bring to market?
In grappling with these types of questions in the field you may sometimes get dirty and wet, trek far along mountain ridges, or spend long afternoons in a Land Cruiser or a dive boat. You will meet and interact with a variety of characters from Maasai hunters and Bhutanese weavers to government officials and children during a pick-up game of soccer. You may see the only tree-climbing lions in the world, glimpse a pod of migrating whales off in the distance, spot the elusive cassowary (a rarely seen bird) you’ve been waiting for all semester in Australia, and discover other charismatic creatures.
Our approach to education is practical as much as it is experiential. An SFS study abroad experience will not only take you out of your comfort zone and challenge you physically, intellectually, and culturally, but also equip you with a valuable toolkit to apply in any context.
Your fieldwork with SFS will develop research, writing, oral presentation, language, teamwork, community living, leadership, and critical thinking skills that will make you a stronger candidate for graduate school, Peace Corps, your career, or any life path you choose.
And as a result of this reciprocal model, your SFS host community will grow long after you’ve left as well; welcoming new groups of SFS students who will continue the work you and your fellow alumni set in motion during your experience. Many students cite the Directed Research portion of an SFS semester, the capstone experience, as the highlight of their time in the field. This is where research is presented back to community members (whose needs and input provide direction of the research plan) in the form of recommendations so that they are able to make more informed management decisions.
Your participation in an SFS undergraduate study abroad program will help grow a strong network of more than 16,000 alumni as well as a multitude of local stakeholders working together for over 30 years to solve the world’s most pressing environmental issues. The world needs more environmental leaders. Will you be one of them?