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Earth Systems – Auckland

*Now accepting applications for January 2015 on rolling basis (reviewed as submitted). Spaces limited and all FA Programmes are expected to be filled for 2015. Apply as early as possible. Final application deadline: 15th October, 2014*


New Zealand Earth Systems – Auckland, January 11th to June 28th, 2015

The New Zealand Earth Systems – Auckland programme analyzes current environmental issues arising from the interface between nature and society. The five-week field camp begins in the Bay of Plenty on the North Island before heading down to Kaikoura, the Southern Alps and Christchurch on the South Island to continue investigation of the New Zealand Earth System. Modules will include study of marine ecosystems, the Maori concept of kaitiakitanga (guardianship), earthquake geology and hazard management, all while learning a variety of environmental field techniques. Following five weeks in the field, Earth Systems students attend the University of Auckland, where they enroll in four courses, one of which is a research methods course based upon data collected in field camp.

2015 Field Camp Modules (subject to change):

  • Module 1: Rarotonga, Cook Islands – Sustainability for Survival The Sustainability for Survival Module integrates academic principles in land use, water resource 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 wellbeing 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 patterns with the help of local experts.
  • Module 2: Kaitiakitanga, Maori perspectives on natural hazards, resource management, and environmental restoration, Bay of Plenty. 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: The New Zealand Geosphere, Hazards and the Christchurch Earthquake, Kaikoura & Christchurch. The same processes that make New Zealand one of the most stunning landscapes on earth also can lead to devastating earthquakes, as witnessed by the destructive 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. In this two-part module, students will first  be introduced to the New Zealand geosphere through a mapping exercise on the Kaikoura Peninsula. Students will learn to describe a stratigraphic rock sequence, and produce a geologic map and cross section of the peninsula. This will provide students with the background knowledge necessary to understand the hazards that the New Zealand landscape presents. Part two will transition to the city of Christchurch where, on Sept 4, 2010, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake occurred in Darfield, 40km west of the city centre. Large-scale impacts were felt across the region, specifically as a result of widely distributed liquefaction causing severe 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, causing 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 part of the module will focus on earthquake geology and hazards, emergency management, science communication concepts and the community’s response to this disaster.
  • Module 4: New Zealand Marine and Coastal Ecology, Kaikoura Peninsula. Following our week in the Bay of Plenty, we’ll head down to the South Island. Located 180 km north of Christchurch, the Kaikoura Peninsula is home to extensive rocky 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 near shore environment. We will then be introduced to members of Te Korowai o Te Tai Marokura, a local community group, and assess potential avenues for research to complement the implementation of their marine strategy ‘Sustaining Our Sea’ vision. Next students 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 behavior.
  • Glaciers Module 5: Mountains, Glaciers and Climate, Southern Alps. Students will transition to the Southern Alps lodging at the Cass and Hari Hari field stations where they will study the interactions between the atmosphere, cryosphere (glaciers) and geosphere (mountains) and how this affects the New Zealand climate system. Students will become familiar with the mountainous setting and the particular climatology of windward and inter mountain regions of the Southern Alps, understand state-of-the-art techniques for measuring climatological variables, obtain practical experience in field techniques and data analysis. Additionally, students will work at Fox Glacier to understand how glaciers are affected by climate change.


Campus Semester:  February 23rd –  June 28th, 2015

The field camp experience will transition into a semester at the University of Auckland. Auckland Students will enroll and receive credits for 3 courses and a required fourth course based on research project during the field camp. Students at the will focus their work on Marine and Coastal sciences and management and Kaitiakitanga.

Programme Director: Dr. Dan Hikuroa, Research Director of Ngāti Maniapoto Tainui, Te Arawa, University of Auckland

Dan is an expert in environmental sciences and earth systems, and has a unique ability to blend his scientific knowledge with his Maori heritage. Dan has designed and taught field geology and environmental science courses for Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi in Whakatane and is team leader on several University of Auckland and Frontiers Abroad research initiatives in the Bay of Plenty region on New Zealand. He is currently leading research efforts to integrate indigenous knowledge into modern science practices for environmental restoration and geothermal energy. In addition to his research and Frontiers Abroad duties, Dan instructs courses for the School of the Environment, University of Auckland.

Programme Details

Credits/Units: Five course credits transcripted by the Lafayette College.

  1. Earth Systems Field Camp - GEOL 364: Field Study in Earth Systems
  2. Environmental Field Research Methods – GEOL 366: Field Research in Earth Systems
  3. Two courses within the School of the Environment (Auckland)
  4. One course of your choosing

Tuition 2014: $20,000 USD   (2015 tuition TBD)

  1. Tuition includes all 5-week field camp costs
  2. Semester tuition
  3. Travel and health insurance
  4. Academic advising
  5. Lafayette Transcript
  6. Pre-Departure Services
    1. Application and Visa Support Services
    2. Housing Support
    3. Course Selection
Housing: Room at Wellessy Apartments  - $4,500 USD, $300 refundable deposit
Wellessy Apartments offer flatting style city accommodation in a safe, supportive and modern environment. The apartments feature group living with each fully furnished apartment having 4 or 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a living area and kitchen. Apartments are self-catered meaning you prepare your own meals. Meals not part of housing fee. Internet is purchased on a per use basis.  More information
Additional 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 – approximatley $400 NZD
  4. Internet – Dependent upon usage

Applications Close 15th October 2014

“I am a current Frontiers Abroad student studying at the University of Auckland after an amazing five weeks of field camp! I couldn’t be more impressed with Frontiers Abroad. The field camp they organized was beyond anything I anticipated. The amount of stuff that we fit into five weeks was incredible. I learned as much (if not more) in that time than I have in any of my semester long college courses. Dan, Max and Darren are all great, as well as the numerous visiting professors and other assorted experts we spent time with throughout field camp. In my opinion, one of the best things about field camp was how many different topics we covered. Whether your major is Geology, Chemistry, Engineering, etc. etc., the knowledge you gain will be relevant and you”ll learn a lot. And it’s not all work- we had plenty of time to enjoy snorkeling, hiking and finding swimming spots :) I would strongly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in any aspect of environmental science. I’m only a few weeks into the actual semester here in Auckland, but I love it so far! Choosing to come to NZ with Frontiers Abroad has been one of the best experiences of my life. If you’re considering applying, stop thinking and do it already! You won’t regret it.” Jamie Shannon – 2010 Pomona College and Frontiers Abroad student