Please note: Fall 2021 Programmes have been canceled due to COVID.
The New Zealand Earth Systems Programme analyzes current environmental issues arising from the interface between nature and society within the New Zealand Earth System through Māori and scientific world views. We explore how both indigenous knowledge and western science are utilized to manage natural resources through field based education and scientific observation.The five-week field camp takes advantage of sites on both the North Island and South Island of New Zealand. Students will explore the Bay of Plenty, Mt. Ruapehu, Banks Peninsula, the Southern Alps, and Kaikoura through a series of interconnected field modules. During field camp, students learn the field techniques needed to solve the environmental issues. Following field camp, students transition to University of Canterbury or 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.
2020 Spring Semester Field Camp: Jan 17th – Feb 10th (Dates may change)
Field camp is divided into several interrelated modules. Focusing on field and research based education, students study how the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and anthrosphere systems interact to form the entire New Zealand Earth System.
2020 Field Camp Modules (subject to change):
Module 1: Introduction to Earth Systems Field Skills and Observations in Mt. Ruapehu
Based on the flanks of Mt Doom, New Zealand, the goals of module 1 are simply to (1)introduce you to New Zealand and (2) provide you with field skills needed for the course. We will introduce basic geologic and biologic field skills and techniques that you will use throughout the program. This includes how to take field notes, sketch outcrops, identify trees and plants, and conduct marine, coastal and terrestrial ecological surveys. The first portion of the module will be based from Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, a New Zealand Indigenous University, where we will also introduce you to the native peoples of New Zealand, the Maori and their concepts of environmental stewardship (Kaitiakitanga). Located near the world famous Ohope Beach, we also plan to swim!!! Following, we will transition to Mt Ruapehu (Mt. Doom) where we will dive into field skills and volcanic hazards!
Module 2: Kaitiakitanga, Maori perspectives on natural hazards, resource management, and environmental restoration, Bay of Plenty
Running concurrently with Module 1, we will also be exploring the concept of kaitiakitanga (which loosely translates as ‘guardianship’). Kaitiakitanga 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. This module will conclude at Waitomo, where we will be introduced to Dr. Hikuroa’s family Marae and explore the world famous Waitomo Caves.
Module 3: New Zealand Hydrosphere -The Southern Alps
In this module, students are introduced to the New Zealand Hydrosphere. Based in the Southern Alps at Cass Field Station, students will learn about the physical hydrology of the Southern Alps (including the world famous braided stream networks) and the changing water chemistry as we move from the pristine Southern Alps to the Canterbury Plains – where intensive agriculture and ranching dominate the landscape. You will be introduced to New Zealand water policy an learn local environmental efforts to protect waterways. Taking a source to sink approach this module will analyse how the hydrosphere and anthrosphere interact.
Module 4: Climate Change and Conservation in the Southern Alps
In this module we will apply the field methods you have developed in the last four weeks to investigate the challenges the Department of Conservation (DOC) faces managing the intersecting spheres of the earth system in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. Today anthropogenic climate change and an exponential increase in international tourism are reshaping the park. In this rapidly changing environment, DOC is attempting to develop a management strategy that addresses the needs of a diverse group of stakeholders including overseas visitors (a crucial component of the NZ economy), NZ alpine climbers and nature enthusiasts, tour operators seeking to profit off (primarily) international tourists, and indigenous peoples for whom the land has cultural significance.
Module 5: Research Projects
During the final days of field camp, student will collect data utilised for their semester research projects. Students will be presented with a variety of projects. If they choose a project with existing data sets, students will be field assistants during these days and develop their project proposals at night.
ES Spring – 2021 January 17-June 20th
Applications due October 15th
Semester Courses: During the semester you may take up to 4 courses.
The Required Semester Courses are:
In total you receive 4 Semester Credits per course transcripted by the Skidmore College, in addition to 5 credit hours for field camp.
Tuition – 2021: $21,500 USD
Other Program Costs: