Notable Programs for ES Students Fotor1218163516

The Environmental Studies Program urges its majors to think carefully about their educational goals when considering off-campus study. Environmental Studies majors frequently find that off-campus study complements their academic program effectively. If you are considering off-campus study, we urge students to consult with their adviser and program OCS liaison about:

  1. The off-campus program(s) that can best meet the student’s academic goals.
  2. The best semester to study abroad. This choice will depend upon the OCS program selected and the individual’s academic program. The ES program has no preferred semester for off-campus study.

Environmental Studies majors are in a special situation when it comes to studying abroad. Their primary goal is to study the natural history and ecological relationships as well as environmental problems of the area. For this reason, the requirement to have taken three semesters of the country’s language before the semester abroad is waived when the student attends selected Environmental Studies-recommended programs. For most ES approved programs in non-English speaking countries, students should complete a class in the language of the country. In special circumstances, however, if a particular student is required to take a full load of natural science and environmental studies courses while abroad, the Environmental Studies Program in consultation with OCS may permit her/him to omit the language class.

All classes to be credited toward the major must be pre-approved by the chair of the program or OCS liaison of the program. Any subsequent changes to the approved courses must also be pre-approved. ES Majors may transfer a maximum of 8 credit hours for a semester of off-campus study, or 12 credit hours in total from non-Colby programs, including credits transferred from other institutions, toward their major requirements.

Below is a list of many of the popular programs that meet program requirements as well as the interests of past ES students.

The Off-Campus Study Liaison for Environmental Studies is Russ Cole (Olin 224; Ext 5728) or visit Colby’s Off-Campus Study page for more information.

International Field Programs


School for Field Studies

The School for Field Studies is the oldest study abroad program in the country that focuses on environmental studies. SFS offers semester-long programs in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Australia, ranging in topic from marine resources to tropical rainforest management. The hands-on approach used by SFS combines lectures, presentations, laboratories and community service with a student-directed research project that forms the culminating project of the semester. SFS currently runs eight programs:

-Rainforest Studies (Australia)
-Himalayan Studies (Bhutan)
-Conservation, Ethics, and Environmental Change (Cambodia)
-Sustainable Development Studies (Costa Rica)
-Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies (Panama)
-Biodiversity & Development in the Amazon (Peru)
-Wildlife Management Studies (Tanzania)
-Marine Resource Studies (Turks and Caicos Islands)

For more information on these programs:  SFS-Program Details

School for International Training

School for International Training (SIT) programs augment formal academic studies with a month-long, independent research project designed in consultation with the program director and a local expert in the field. SIT offers opportunities around the world to study development, public health, and many other themes including:

-Rainforest, Reef and Cultural Ecology (Australia)
-Public Health, Race and Human Rights (Brazil)
-Comparative Ecology and Conservation (Ecuador)
-Sustainable Development and Social Change (India)
-Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management (Madagascar)
-Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation (Panama)
-Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology (Tanzania)
-Biodiversity in the Tropics (Panama)
-Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics (Iceland)

For more information visit: and read about one of our students SIT experiences in Tanzania.

Round River Conservation Studies

ColinThe Round River Conservation Studies is a research and education based organization they emphasize the importance of each to achieve their conservation goals; and therefore, see the student programs and research efforts as complements of one another. Students take four classes while there but also immerse themselves in a research program. Their programs are located in: the Namibian Desert, Bostwana-Linyyanti, Patagonia, British Columbia (Taku River – First Nation), the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, and new in 2017 on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica.



International Honors Program run through SIT


Sponsored through School for International Training, the International Honors Program coordinates both semester and year-long programs in global ecology, global culture, indigenous studies and urban studies. The global ecology program examines conservation practices, economic development, environmental policy and social movements in England, Tanzania, India, New Zealand, Mexico and the United States offering students the unique opportunity to make comparative studies using examples from around the world.

-Beyond Globalization: Reclaiming Nature, Culture, and Justice
-Health and Community: Globalization, Culture, and Care
-Cities in the 21st Century

Organization for Tropical Studies

The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), in partnership with Duke University, offers semester and summer programs for undergraduate students interested in field biology. The Costa Rica Semester and Summer Programs utilize the three OTS field stations as well as other Costa Rican sites, allowing direct study of a wide range of tropical ecosystems and habitats. The South Africa Semester Program is based at the world-renowned Kruger National Park, allowing direct study of African savanna ecosystems. All of the Undergraduate Offerings feature the OTS method of field-based, experiential learning under close the guidance of highly qualified professors. Graduates of an OTS undergraduate program will be well prepared for advanced studies in tropical biology and resource management.

Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE)

CIEE study abroad programs – based in more than 40 countries around the world – span more academic disciplines than any other international education organization. And by combining that coursework with homestays, internships and a variety of cultural activities, CIEE offers students a uniquely immersive international experience. Offering summer and semester programs.  Some of those programs frequented by Colby students include:

Costa Rica – Lessons in Sustainability: Environmental Conservation and Controversy
China – Seeking a Sustainable Future
Australia – Environmental Impacts on Native Wildlife in a Biodiversity Hotspot
South Africa – Toward Urban Sustainability: A South African Case Study

International Sustainable Development Studies Institute

Academically challenging and intensely experiential, ISDSI courses are expeditions into the cultures and ecology of Thailand. Each course is focused on understanding sustainable development and is designed in collaboration with local communities.

Integrating both the social and natural sciences, on our courses students may work on an organic farm alongside villagers while learning about agroecosystems, backpack on remote forest trails in the mountains with upland people in order to study indigenous forest management or sea kayak to learn about oceans, reefs and fishing communities.
-People, Ecology, and Development (Thailand)
-Sustainable Architecture and Design in Southeast Asia: Villages, Empires, and Cities
-Summer program: Culture and Ecology of Northern Thailand with ISDSI

SEA Semester

SEA Semester is the leading off-campus Environmental Studies program focused on the ocean. While the academic focus varies, each program offers an interconnected suite of courses designed to explore a specific ocean-related theme using a cross-disciplinary approach. We look for motivated undergraduates of all majors who are passionate about learning, inspired to tackle and address real-world problems, and eager to become part of an unparalleled living and learning community.

Domestic Field Programs


Changing Oceans: Colby at Bigelow Laboratory

Important note: Students interested in studying on this program will also be permitted to study abroad for another semester (exempt from a petition).

Changing Oceans at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, in East Boothbay, Maine, offers a semester-in-residence program for Colby College students interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of oceanography and hands-on research experience through immersion in a professional laboratory environment.  The intensive research experience is focused on ocean science within a changing global climate, and covers topics such as microbial oceanography, marine biogeochemistry, the ocean’s role in the global carbon cycle, molecular approaches to biological oceanography, and pelagic ecology; implications for public policy are explored within each of these topics. This unique program is a must for any student interested in becoming a marine scientist. For more program information visit

Semester of Environmental Science at Woods Hole

(Petition) – The Semester in Environmental Science is sponsored by the Ecosystem Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, a world-renowned center for biological research and education with a long tradition of offering superb training in science. The curriculum includes core courses in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem analysis that introduce fundamentals of biogeochemistry and ecosystem science. An elective in either Aquatic Chemistry, Ecology and Management of Wetlands, Problems of Human-dominated Ecosystems, Issues in Global Ecology, Mathematical Modeling in Ecology, Microbial Methods in Ecology, and The Role of Animals in Ecosystems (not all electives offered in all years). A Science Writing Seminar and an Independent Research project are also offered.


Williams-Mystic combines academic excellence and the learning environment of  Mystic Seaport. Students study the past, present, and future of the earth’s  oceans by participating in four courses, a museum skills class, a Pacific Coast caravan, a trip to Nantucket Island, and a deep water offshore voyage.

Duke University Marine Lab Beaufort -2- Bermuda Spring Semester (Petition)
In addition to the traditional semester offered solely at the Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, students may choose to split their semester of study between the Beaufort campus and the campus at the Bermuda Biological Station for Research (BBSR). The spring semester will be divided into two seven-week sessions with a break between sessions. A student may choose to spend the first session at either institution and would then switch to the other institution for the second session.

Semester in Washington, D.C.

Colby students from a variety of disciplines including ES have the opportunity to study and intern in Washington, weeks   andD.C. for a semester and should contact the Office of Off-Campus Study for more information.

Summer Field Programs


School for Field Studies

School for Field Studies offers 4-8 week summer programs addressing critical environmental issues in Australia, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Panama, Tanzania, and the Turks & Caicos Islands. By combining lectures with field exercises and field trips, you will gain hands-on experience and learn field research skills that will help you build your professional credentials. You will also have the rare opportunity to experience a new culture while helping the local community develop solutions to critical environmental problems.

Organization for Tropical Studies

Organization for Tropical Studies offers several summer programs in Costa Rica,   with focuses in ethnobiology, research experiences, and field tropical biology.   Each program, run through OTS’s La Selva Biological Station weeks and requires several semesters of biology.

International University Programs


Denmark's International Studies Program

Fall Semester – end of August to end of December; Spring – end of January to end of May. DIS is a direct-enrollment program meaning there is no American host university, however, there are many resources available through DIS to facilitate the transfer. All courses are taught in English by Danish faculty and usually amount to 12-15 transferable credits. DIS has recently established a program entitled, “Sustainability in Europe”, which might be of interest to ES majors.

James Cook University

James Cook University is Australia’s leading tropical research University. JCU has a strong focus on matters relating to the tropics and is located in Queensland near two World-Heritage-listed natural wonders – the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the rainforests of the Wet Tropics.

Australian National University, Canberra

The Resource and Environmental Management Program within the School of Resources, Environment and Society offers a broad, flexible education in environmental science and natural resource management. The curriculum comprises a core of natural and social sciences courses relevant to environmental conservation and sustainable resource management. They also have an environmental studies major.

University of Queensland, Australia

UQ is one of the best universities in Australia. Environmental Studies students can take courses in such fields as Environmental Management, Environmental Science, Natural Resource Science, Nature Conservation, Ecotourism, Urban Planning, Tropical Forestry, Marine Resources, Wilderness Reserves and Wildlife, and many others.

University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

With over 50 different semester programs available to visiting students. Founded in 1949 and located in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, UNSW has an enrollment of 27,000.

The University of Western Australia

This is one of Australia’s top Universities and has a very good Conservation Biology Program. The University of Western Australia is in Perth and in an area very ecologically different from the eastern seaboard.

University of Otago

Founded in 1869, the University of Otago was New Zealand’s first university. Otago is located in Dunedin (South Island) and has an enrollment of 20,000. The Division of Sciences is responsible for a full range of sciences including botany, chemistry, geology, marine science, and zoology. See a summary of Bill McCloy’s (’03) semester in New Zealand.

University of Auckland

The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s top university and is found in the North Island. There are programs and classes in Environmental Science and also some offerings that would be available in policy related courses.  Another area that might be of interest is Marine Science.

The School of Environmental Sciences

This is one of the longest established, largest and most experienced Schools of Environmental Science in Europe. The holistic approach their our teaching, integrating physical, chemical, geotechnical, biological and social science methodology into the study of natural and human environments, is noteworthy.

Programs Grouped by Destination

SFS indicates a School for Field Studies Program.
SIT indicates a School for International Training Program.


Latin America

SFS Costa Rica – Center for Sustainable Development Studies.
SFS Turks & Caicos Islands – Marine Resources Program.
SFS Panama – Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies.
SIT Panama – Development and Conservation in Latin America.

South America

SIT Brazil – Amazonian Ecology and Natural Resource Management.
SIT Ecuador – A comparative ecology and conservation program.
SFS Peru – Biodiversity & Development in the Andes-Amazon
SIT Venezuela – See a complete list of the SIT programs throughout Latin America.


Denmark’s International Studies– Based in Copenhagen, linked with the University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School, and Roskilde University
University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom – serving hundreds of American students each year


Sally Holmes ('13)

SIT Tanzania – There are two Tanzanian programs, one in Zanzibar dealing with coastal ecology and another focusing on wildlife conservation.
SFS Tanzania – Wildlife Management Studies.


SFS Australia– Center for Rainforest Studies
James Cook University – Tropical North Queensland, Australia
Australian National University, Canberra
University of East Anglia
SIT Australia – There are several SIT programs in Australia. Explore this site to find the best match.
University of Otago – See a summary of Bill McCloy’s(’03) semester in New Zealand.
University of Queensland, Austrailia
University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia – with over 50 different semester programs available to visiting students
The University of Western Australia – This is one of Australia’s top Universities and has a very goodConservation Biology Program.


SFS Cambodia
SFS Bhutan