Skip to content

Programs : Brochure

This page is the brochure for your selected program. You can view the provided information for this program on this page and click on the available buttons for additional options.
  • Locations: Grahamstown, South Africa; Hermosa, New Mexico, United States;
  • Program Terms: Fall
  • Restrictions: Furman applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

The application period for this program has not started.
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Faculty-led Language of Instruction: English
Faculty Director or Program Advisor: Megan Pitman - Biology, Travis Perry - Biology Areas of Study: Biology, Environmental Studies, Sustainability Science
Type of Course Credit: Furman course credit Minimum GPA: 2.5
Credit Hours Per Term: 16 credits Foreign Language Immersion: No
Program Features: Field Work, Research Project Applicable Financial Aid: Federal Aid, Furman Institutional Aid, Furman Merit Based Scholarships, State Aid, Study Away Scholarship
Housing: Cabins/ Campground, Hotel, Tents
Program Description:



The Wild Semester is a 16 week, 4 course program that immerses students in wilderness, adventure, and environmental biology.    Students will live in a remote ghost town on the edge of the Aldo Leopold Wilderness in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico for 12 weeks while taking Conservation Biology, Ecology, and Field Zoology.   After time off to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving break, students will reunite at Furman before departing for South Africa where the fourth and final course of the program, African Ecology, will be taught.   The Wild Semester program emphasizes hands-on learning, practical skills for scientists (and conservationists in particular), research experience, exploring career options, and a thorough academic understanding of the course material.  Learning takes place 24/7 through lectures, lab exercises, field trips, camping, hiking, and field studies.  The program is personally, physically, and academically challenging, requiring students to be prepared, motivated, enthusiastic, and fun!


BIO 340 Ecology
GER credit:NE.  Biology major requirement. Counts towards Sustainability Science major. Counts towards Environmental Studies minor.
Instructor:   Travis Perry
The interactions between organisms and their environments, and the consequences of these interactions for population dynamics, community structure, and the flow of energy and matter through ecosystems. Also, consideration of environmental issues and conservation. Laboratories include local field work, experiments, and possibly one or two overnight/weekend field trips. 4 credits.

BIO 422 Field Zoology
Counts towards Biology major.  General credit. 
Instructor: Megan Pitman
Course catalog description:   Taxonomic techniques, natural history and phylogenetic relationships of vertebrates. Emphasis on mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Frequent laboratories and field trips (including at least one overnight) to observe, identify and collect animals. 4 credits.

BIO 430 Conservation Biology
Counts towards Biology major, Sustainability Science major, and Environmental Studies minor. 
Instructor: Travis Perry
An overview of all modes of living natural resource management from the strictly utilitarian use of fisheries and wildlife, through endangered species conservation, the preservation of biodiversity, and adaptive management at the ecosystem level. The course also includes a review of U.S. environmental treaties, law, policy, and the environmental movement since 1900.  Two overnight field trips to view conservation biology in action. 4 credits.

BIO 344 African Ecology
GERs:  NW and NE.  Meets Biology major requirement. Counts towards Sustainability Science major and Environmental Studies minor. 
Instructor: Travis Perry
Travel study course taught in South Africa demonstrating ecological principles and examining conservation issues. Focus on the ecology of the region’s unique flora and fauna as well as the conservation challenges of South Africa’s cultural, political and economic
situation. 4 credits.


New Mexico:
Students will be housed most of the time at the ghost town of Hermosa on the Ladder Ranch.  Facilities consist of bedrooms in a renovated 1880’s hotel, a large classroom in a renovated mercantile, a separate building for supplies and equipment, and a house with kitchen and dining room for meals. Electricity is supplied by solar power. Students are divided into teams for planning and preparing meals, cleaning, and maintenance. At other times, students will camp or stay in hotels (for example when we go to town for food and laundry).
South Africa:
For most of the time students will be housed at the Basil Kent Research Facility (“Grasslands Farm”) on the Great Fish River Reserve. The facility is a large, turn of the century, farm house with bedrooms, common rooms, dining room, kitchen, and bathrooms. Meals will be prepared for us. We will also camp at Mountain Zebra National Park, where Rhodes students and staff will prepare meals. In Kruger National Park, we will stay in bungalows and eat in the park restaurants.


Semester faculty-led programs are open to Furman University students of all majors, subject to any course prerequisites. Successful applicants will demonstrate a marked academic, vocational, or personal interest in the program. The faculty directors of this program will read all applications and admit the most qualified individuals.


The Rinker Center for Study Away and International Education reviews all study away programs on an annual basis, and more frequently as needed, to plan for and mitigate risks associated with the health and safety of participants while traveling. In this day and age, nothing is risk-free. Students and faculty are instructed to remain vigilant and cautious at all times and will receive additional instructions during a mandatory pre-departure orientation session and on-site orientation programming. When students commit to a study away program, they are asked to self-disclose personal information - which may include allergies, medications, disabilities, mental health conditions, medical concerns, and past medical histories. This information is shared with the faculty directors and study away staff for use during medical emergencies, and in an effort to be aware of and plan for situations that may arise or accommodations that are needed while students are away from Furman's campus resources. It is extremely important for students to be transparent and forthcoming about their concerns, needs, and medical histories prior to the start of the program as well as during the program. Furman University contracts with Educational and Institutional Insurance Administrators (EIIA) to provide medical and emergency services to students while traveling abroad on Furman study away programs. Students participating in study away programs in the United States are required to show proof of medical insurance. 

The ‘Wild Semester’ is a semester long environmental program consisting of four academic courses taught in remote areas of New Mexico and South Africa.  The program emphasizes outdoor research experiences and the teaching of skills and techniques necessary for environmental/conservation biology research in wild lands.  As such, the program’s activities are often physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding, occur in remote outdoor areas where adverse environmental conditions are possible, where it is possible to encounter dangerous plants and animals (poison ivy, mesquite, stinging nettle, venomous snakes, large carnivores and herbivores), and carry a particle of risk not typically associated with academic work in the classroom. 
Students, faculty, and staff need to be mentally and physically prepared to endure potentially novel and stressful conditions, a potentially stressful social environment, and adverse environmental conditions in order to engage in these activities in a manner that is safe, relatively comfortable, and conducive to learning.
Some students may find that they do not adapt well mentally and/or emotionally to certain novel aspects of this program including:
(1)  high academic expectations in an unconventional environment
(2)  domestic responsibilities and expectations (cooking, cleaning, maintenance) in addition to academic expectations.
(3)  strict and frequently communicated rules for conduct and behavior to ensure safety and professional ethics in wild lands and when working with wild animals, especially in South Africa
Some students find the social environment of this program stressful.  This environment is characterized by:
(1)  infrequent and sometimes unpredictable opportunities to communicate with friends and family outside the program
(2) living in close quarters with a small group of people for a long period of time
(3) little opportunity to spend ‘quiet time’ or time alone.
Environmental conditions and activities to which participants will be subjected may include, but are not limited to:  
(1) high elevation (over 10,000ft)
(2) extreme solar radiation at low latitude (23.5 degrees) and high elevation (over 10,000ft)
(3) temperatures over 100 degrees F and relative humidity less than 20% in the desert southwest and South Africa,
(4) temperatures below 15 degrees F,
(5) rain, freezing rain, sleet, or snow while hiking and/or camping
(6) hiking in rugged and steep terrain at temperatures over 95 degrees F and less than 25% humidity for several miles carrying 25 to 40 lbs of equipment,
(7) hiking in rugged and steep terrain at temperatures below 32 degrees F for several miles
(8) a five-day, 25 mile hike into wilderness areas where temperatures may vary from over 100 degrees F to below 15 degrees F.   Participants will be carrying packs that weigh between 25 and 40 lbs, according to physical ability.   Access to water is sufficient, but water distribution is limited.  In other words, it will sometimes be necessary to travel from point A to point B in order to replenish drinking water.    Hikers will ascend to 10,000+ from 6,000ft in the first two days, travel along a ridgeline at 9,000 to 10,000 ft on the third day, and descend from 10,000 to 6,000 ft on the last two days.   
(9) working with horses and mules for packing and riding
We will avoid towns and population centers while in South Africa; and, although precautions have been taken to ensure that students can receive mental and physical care in the case of emergency while in country, access to these services will entail significant resources and perhaps unpredictable delays given third world infrastructure.

Participants will be:
(1) less than 1 hour driving time to definitive medical treatment 15% of the time (usual rural or urban settings), 
(2) approximately 2 hours driving time from definitive medical treatment 75% of the time, or ~30 minutes from EMT access via medivac,
(3) greater than 1 hour from definitive medical treatment by any means 5% of the time,
(4) 24 to 48 hours or more from definitive medical treatment by any means 5% of the time – HOWEVER, it is during this time that students may be subjected to the harshest environmental conditions and the greatest physical strain.
(5)  subject to the less predictable nature of third world infrastructure if attempting to access mental and/or medical professional resources for 3 weeks while in South Africa.




Students will pay 2017-2018 semester tuition, room, and board plus a $250 study away program fee. Federal, State and Furman financial aid that a student normally receives will apply. Questions about financial aid should be directed toward the Financial Aid Office.


To confirm participation in a study away program, a non-refundable $500 deposit (which applies toward the study away program fee) is due two weeks after acceptance. The final payment deadline will be specified in the Financial Agreement associated with the program.


Need-based study away scholarships are available. Priority is given to students who have not previously participated in a study away program. Townes, Duke, and Hollingsworth Scholars should alert the Rinker Center for Study Away to apply their one-time study away stipend to their study away program.


Roundtrip airfare from a designated city to program location*
Lodging for the duration of the program
Meals for the duration of the program*
Transportation for program-related activities/events
Entrance fees to programmed activities/events/venues
Tours included in the study away program
Group meals (students will know ahead of time how many group meals will be provided)
Emergency Medical Insurance (on international programs)
International phone plan allowance for basic communication purposes*
*may be in the form of a program fee credit


Transportation to the designated departure city (for international programs)
Required books/materials/supplies/equipment/gear
Passport fees


International cell phone charges above the provided allowance
Trip cancellation or interruption insurance 
Personal expenses and souvenirs
Transportation, meals and lodging for independent travel

This program is currently not accepting applications.