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UT Austin International Office Study Abroad

brisbane australia journalism maymester

Program Description

The environment varies tremendously from place to place, and it is conceptualized very differently among individuals and cultures. According to research, environmental stories are consistently among the most important and interesting topics; however, the way media report about these issues does more than inform and entertain. Quality environmental journalism has the potential power to shape public policy.

Global climate change is arguably the most important issue of our time and represents one of the “hottest” topics in both the scientific and environmental journalism fields. This seminar examines the environment of one of the most exotic, isolated, and ecologically diverse places on Earth: Australia. Based in Brisbane, students travel in the state of Queensland with science experts to visit three distinct ecosystems, each of which is experiencing dramatic impacts of climate change:  one of the oldest tropical rainforests on the planet, an inland desert in the Outback and the most extensive coral reef on Earth.

The course operates as an intensive reporting and writing seminar with the goal of producing content across all media platforms for publication on the course website. The goal is to hone students’ storytelling skills across media platforms while sharpening understanding about scientific and environmental issues. Armed with digital cameras, audio recorders, computers and notepads in the company of scientific experts and field guides, this program facilitates one-of-a-kind storytelling.


  • J 346F / J 362F / J 395 / GRG 356 | Reporting on our Changing Environment: Queensland, Australia. The J362F section meets a capstone Journalism Portfolio requirement.
  • COM 119 | International Learning Seminar: Australia Maymester. Taken during the spring semester preceding the program.

Faculty Director

Kris Wilson

kris wilson

Dr. Kris Wilson is considered an international expert in the communication of climate change science and has presented his research in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Great Britain, France, Wales and Mexico. Dr. Wilson spent more than a decade working in television as an award-winning news director, executive producer, anchor, reporter, and weather anchor. In addition to his professional experience, he holds a doctorate in geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder (1993) specializing in climate change and a master's degree from Ohio State University (1986), where he was a Kiplinger Fellow and specialized in environmental journalism. “Dr. Kris” has been recognized for outstanding teaching at four universities, including UT as a finalist for the 2012 College of Communication Teaching Excellence Award and is nominated for the 2013 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award. He has travelled extensively in Australia and has many journalism and science contacts Down Under.

Program and Application Details

For full program details and information on how to apply, go to the Program Page.

Questions? Email: Laura Kaplan