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Earth Systems – Fall

For 2014 Earth Systems Fall Research Projects, please see Earth Systems Research Projects.


EarthsystemsfallLogo_2014 New Zealand Earth Systems Fall – June 7 to November 8th

The Earth Systems Fall programme analyzes current environmental issues arising from the interface between nature and society. Focusing on field and research based education, students study how the geosphere, bioshpere, hydrosphere, and anthrosphere systems interact to form the New Zealand Earth System. As part of this programme, students will undertake research projects assisting in the re-development of Christchurch alongside its people. This programme will see students develop as individuals and challenge concepts of learning, while giving something back to the City of Christchurch. The programme includes a 4 week field camp focusing on 1) marine and coastal ecology, management and resources, the recent Christchurch earthquakes, the recovery and rebuild, and other critical environmental issues such as climate change, agriculture and pollution.  Following the field camp, where research projects will be identified for participating students, students will enroll in a set of chosen courses and electives with learning outcomes that match the theme of this programme.

4-week field camp (Modules may change):

Module 1: Sustainability for Survival – The Island System – The Cook Islands

The Sustainability for Survival Module integrates academic principles in land use and water resources management and marine ecology with applied management tools to investigate the “Island System” of the Cook Islands. In this aquatic playground, we will evaluate the delicate balance between the health of the barrier reef and marine ecosystem with the well being of the island. This field-based module will expose students to ecological research (i.e., sampling design and techniques, data collection and interpretation) to future management strategies for the island. We will also investigate cetacean ecology and migration.

Module 2: Kaitiakitanga, Maori perspectives on natural hazards, resource management, and environmental restoration

The concept of kaitiakitanga (which loosely translates as ‘guardianship’) played a crucial role in traditional Maori society, and is increasingly sought as an environmental paradigm in contemporary settings.  As kaitiaki, Maori were responsible for ensuring the viability of land and resources for the following generations. Guidelines and methods were developed to meet the needs and requirements of traditional Maori communities. In this module we will investigate some of the indigenous methods used and the challenges contemporary societies face when assessing how to implement the principle of kaitiakitanga in the 21st century.

Students will be exposed first hand to the concept of kaitiakitanga by investigating various issues facing Bay of Plenty communities.

Module 3: New Zealand Marine and Coastal Ecology

The Kaikoura Peninsula is located 180 km north of Christchurch, with extensive coastal shores and a marine canyon only 500 m off the Canterbury Coast. It is also central to the forests, rivers and mountains of the Seaward Kaikoura Ranges.

Students will begin the week in Kaikoura exploring the flora and fauna of the rocky shore and observing oceanic influences of the Peninsula and nearshore environment. We will then be introduced to members of Te Korowai o Te Tai Marokura, and assess potential avenues for research to complement the implementation of their marine strategy ‘Sustaining Our Sea’ vision.

Following, we will venture into the near shore waters on the University of Canterbury boat, to collect plankton samples for investigation of the biodiversity within the epipelagic zone near the coast and within the canyon.

Finally, we will end the week with the charismatic mega fauna, as we work to identify individual Hector’s dolphins and fur seals and record some of their behaviour. Of course, there is always time for a snorkel, which allows us to experience some of the stressors of a cold-temperate coastal environment!

Module 4: Hazards, Emergency Management, and Science Communication of the Canterbury Earthquakes

On Sept 4, 2010, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake occurred in Darfield, 40km west of Christchurch city centre. Large scale impacts were felt across the region and country, specifically widely distributed liquefaction and land damage. Several months later, (Feb 22, 2011) a magnitude 6.3 aftershock occurred along a new segment of the fault with an epicentre only 9 km from the city centre. This event caused unprecedented damage to Christchurch; Building collapses resulted in 185 fatalities and long term reconstruction of homes and infrastructure is estimated to cost the New Zealand people 40 billion dollars. This module will focus on earthquake geology and hazards, emergency management, science communication concepts and the community’s response to this disaster.

Topics to be covered include:

  • The tectonics and mechanisms of earthquakes in New Zealand
  • Earthquake hazards (and visits to sites which have been effected)
  • Mitigation strategies and reducing risk in a quake-prone region.
  • Ways to foster recovery and resiliency in a community (pre- and post-quake)
  • Principles of science communication in a disaster context
  • A half-day, capstone Earthquakes and Science Communication training exercise.

Campus Semester: July 13 -  November 8

The field camp experience will transition into a semester at the the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ. Students will enroll and receive credits for 2 required courses and two elective courses based (4 courses total). For students interested in service learning, internship opportunities are available.
*** In New Zealand, Departments of Geography are multidisciplinary departments similar to Departments of Environmental Science

Programme Details:

Credits/Units: 15  total credits transcripted by the Lafayette College.

Earth Systems Field Camp (3 credits)
Research Methods in Geography (3 credits)
Earth System Science (3 credits)
Two courses of your choosing (up to 6 credits)


2014: $19,000 USD

Housing Option 1-  Single Room at Ilam Apartments: $4,750 USD and Refundable Deposit $300. ***price may change slightly due to exchange rate fluctuation

Ilam Apartments is a self-catered, fully-furnished apartment-style complex that offers independent living in a supportive environment to students of all ages, at all levels of their academic career, and from all over the world. Meals are self catered (you provide your own food) and not part of housing fee. Internet is an additional fee and based upon usage.

There are three apartment types (Manuka, Kowhai or Hinau) offering students a choice of applying for a place in a two, three, four, five or six-bedroom apartment. Each apartment comes with an equipped kitchen, bathroom, a lounge/dining room, laundry facilities and telephone. All bedrooms are furnished with a bed, study desk, wardrobe, bookshelves, and have a data outlet for prepaid internet.

Residents at Ilam choose their own rooms through an online allocation system. This allows friends to flat together, or alternatively, gives residents the opportunity to meet new people. There is a diverse range of people who live at Ilam providing students with an opportunity to develop lifelong friendships. Throughout the year a number of events are held to assist with academic success, personal development and having a great University experience. These events bring residents together to create a community atmosphere.

Housing Option 2- Single Room at FA House: $4,000 USD (single – 2  available)  $3,500 USD (double – 2 available – 4 people)

Frontiers Abroad has a six bedroom two bath house, a 20 minute walk to campus or 10 minute bike ride, available for students who want a more residential experience. Fully furnished with a large yard and plenty of area for gardens. The FA House is often used for FA functions, events and BBQ’s. Internet and electricity included.

Other Program Costs:

  1. Return Airfare -  $1,500 NZD – $2,000 NZD (approximated)
  2. Board – self-catered approximately $250 NZD per week (catered meals available through the University)
  3. Books – approzimatley $400 NZD
  4. Internet – Dependent upon usage (provided at FA House for residents)

Applications Close: March 30th 2014

University of Canterbury Course Details
The required courses are:
  1. Research Methods in Geography – GEOG 309: This course draws on both service and problem-based learning. This means that it is based on group work, on learning by doing, and on learning with a community service element. The projects that groups undertake are intended to contribute towards practical outcomes for a number of community groups (that broadly work under the Transition Towns umbrella) such as Project Lyttelton, Lyttelton Harbour Issues Group, Roimata (Woolston), Sumner Redcliffs Transition Group. The emphasis is on working together to solve real world problems by developing skills that are designed for lifelong learning and that are also transferable to the workplace. The course is both a preparation for graduate study and for entry into the workforce.
  2. Earth System Science-GEOL245-S2This course covers the fundamental chemical and physical processes at work within the earth system from a geological perspective through a combination of knowledge-based and applied teaching approaches.  Lectures will both transfer knowledge and engage students in case studies.  Laboratory exercises will apply lecture material to a variety of physical, chemical, and numerical problems. Topics to be covered include: biogeochemistry; hydrology & hydrogeology; low temperature geochemistry; geochronology.

Select Two Electives (can include – but not limited to – for a complete Canterbury listing follow this link) ***Prerequisites will be noted in course descriptions:

  1. Hazard and Disaster Investigation HAZM403-S2: Investigation, solution and reporting of hazard and disaster management situations
  2. Resource and Environmental Management GEOG206-S2: This course will provide students with a general introduction to debates in resource and environmental management, an understanding of the policies and practices of such management in New Zealand, a critical analysis of the concepts upon which these are based, and an insight into practical issues in this field, including environmental and social impact analysis and the Resource Management Act.
  3. Science, Maori and Indigenous Knowledge SCIM101-S2 This is an integrated multi-disciplinary course between Aotahi: School of Maori and Indigenous Studies and the College of Science. This course provides a basic understanding of Maori and indigenous peoples’ knowledge in such fields as astronomy, physics, conservation biology, aquaculture, resource management and health sciences. The course provides unique perspectives in indigenous knowledge, western science and their overlap. The course will provide an essential background in cultural awareness and its relationship with today’s New Zealand scientific community.
  4. Engineering and Mining Geology GEOL338-S: The course provides an overview of engineering geology and mining geology practice, and includes introductory material on rock mechanics and mining geotechnics as well as important background on environmental management of mine wastes.
  5. Environmental Politics and Policy POLS304-S2: This course analyses the resource and environmental aspects of public policy.
  6. Forest Management FORE316-S2: Development of integrated natural resource management approaches to various decision-making techniques. Application of quantitative techniques for analysis of wood production problems, including log manufacturing, log allocation, stand simulation and optimization.
  7. Introduction to Geographic Information Systems GEOG205-S2 Geographic information systems (GIS) provide the tools for managing, analysing and presenting spatial information in an intuitive and graphical way. This course provides students with an introduction to the fundamental concepts, principles and techniques of GIS. The course examines the use of geographic technology including global positioning systems as well as GIS. It also introduces you to the development of GIS and GPS software skills, including ArcView.
  8. Geospatial Analysis in the Social and Environmental Sciences GEOG323-S2: Using a series of examples this course aims to extend a student’s knowledge of GIS by investigating the three main elements of spatial analysis. First, cartographic models are used to illustrate the representation of data on a map as well as map-based operations generating new maps. Second, forms of spatial modelling are used to illustrate the possible spatial interactions that exist between objects in a model. Last, various spatial data analysis techniques are employed to look for evidence of possible spatial relationships that exist in data. These include autocorrelation, point pattern analysis, and geodemographic analysis. A variety of software packages are used to explore each element of geospatial analysis as well as highlight a number of problems inherent when dealing with spatial data such as the ecological fallacy and modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP).
  9. New Zealand Biodiversity and Biosecurity BIOL273-S2: An overview of the indigenous flora and fauna of New Zealand, including their biogeographic origins, the unique and unusual aspects of native organisms, the makeup of native communities, and their interactions with introduced organisms. Emphasis will be placed on the role of biological invaders in modifying New Zealand ecosystems.
  10. Sustaining Native Biodiversity in Primary Production Systems BIOL379-S2: A review of theoretical concepts coupled with policy and management tools to implement sustainable native biodiversity on managed lands such as agricultural and plantation forestry ecosystems.
  11. Geographies of Development GEOG212-S2: This course provides students with an understanding of development geography and critical geopolitics. It considers the spatial imaginaries through which we know and map the so-called third world and the material consequences of these imaginaries for people, places and politics.
  12. Sustainable Development SOCI237-S2: This course critically examines processes of sustainable development and social change from New Zealand and international perspectives.  The course considers processes of development and underdevelopment in a world political and economic system, the state of the environment, access to and use of resources, poverty, and how people forge their livelihoods.  Students will consider different development paradigms, the nature of aid and development projects, and ways of pursuing sustainable development. Case material covers the Asia-Pacific region as well as New Zealand experiences, and there is an opportunity to research and write about development issues for a chosen country.
  13. Tectonics and the New Zealand Continent GEOL334-S2: Tectonic and structural aspects of convergent and divergent plate margins and their application to the geological development of New Zealand.
  14. Magmatic Systems and Volcanology GEOL336-S2: Study of magmatic systems including the nature and origin of igneous materials and links with the physical processes of volcanology.
  15. Environmental Engineering: This is a new 200-level course. More information will be available at a later date.
  16. Fluids and Hydrology: This is a new 200-level course. More information will be available at a later date.
  17. Geotechnical Engineering: This is a new 300-level course. More information will be available at a later date.
  18. Ecological Engineering: This is a new 300-level course. More information will be available at a later date.