Ecology and Culture

This is a course designed for Biology and non-Biology majors alike.  All MC students welcome to apply!


Study in one of the most ecologically diverse countries on the planet. Through readings, lectures, and experience, students will be familiarized with the New Zealand biota (plants and animals) and their relationships with the environment. Local animals and their ecology will be covered in addition to ethnobotany, culture, history, and economics of New Zealand.

There are three main components to the course: 

a. Lecture - which is based upon experiences of the course instructor, guest speakers, and
reading assignments;
b. Laboratory - which will center around an 18 day field experience in New Zealand in which
students will plan, execute and write up a research project;
c. Discussions - based upon readings in current New Zealand literature.

Course Goals:

  • Provide a cross cultural and interdisciplinary experience through which students will gain insight into the cultural and biological diversity of a part of the world which is very different
    Provide “hands-on” experience in study of local ecosystems & the challenges facing them.
    Through interactions with local residents, tourists, and indigenous people provide students the opportunity to confront cultural norms, living conditions, and world views that are not only outside of the norm for them, but quite likely, outside of their comfort zone.
    Provide an opportunity through which students can experience one of the most spectacular ecosystems on earth.

Why consider this course abroad?

  1. The Ecosystems and component biological diversity of New Zealand are some of the most spectacular on Earth.
  2. The culture and world views of not only the indigenous peoples of the region, but the residents and tourists (primarily Austral-Asian) with whom students will interact are likely very different than anything you have experienced before
  3. This course includes topics from a broad range of disciplines, although the program will focus on natural science topics and culture while stressing “hands-on” experiences and projects
  4. This is a safe, stable country where the native language is English
  5. Opportunity for you to experience a different racial and socioeconomic culture

Tentative Program Fee :  $5,800 (subject to change)

Program Fee Includes:
Roundtrip airfare
Local transportation
All excursions & cultural activities
Some meals 
Travel insurance 

Not Included:
Personal expenses
Some meals

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1 Knoxville to Auckland
Day 2 Travel from Auckland – Hamilton, Waitomo Caves
Days 3-4 Cultural Stay, University of Waikato
Day 5 Travel to Tongariro National Park, Hiking the Tongariro Pass
Day 6 Travel to Wellington, Day off to explore city
Day 7 In-country flight to Dunedin, near the Otago Peninsula. Stay at Otago University
Day 8 Exploration of the Otago Peninsula, visitation with Otago University Professors
Day 9 Departure for Bluff for Ferry Ride to Stewart
Days 9 - 12 Stewart Island – birding, hiking, water taxies, kiwi watching
Days 13-14 Travel to Fiordland National Park
Day 15 Travel to Queenstown – City Tour, Adventure Experience.
Day 16-17 Travel to and hike Fox Glacier
Day 18 Travel to Christchurch
Day 19 Christchurch - Knoxville