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New Zealand – Culture and the Environment: A Shared Future (HECUA)


Todd Heidt

Director, Eleanor Stellyes Center for Global Studies

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999



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This program examines how social and environmental factors are shaping political and ecological dimensions of identity and culture, and how New Zealanders from many different backgrounds are envisioning and creating a shared future in New Zealand. 

In the early part of the semester, students are on the road, traveling slowly from Auckland to Wellington over a period of five weeks, staying in a variety of communities, where discussions of history and culture with European, indigenous Maori, and Pacifica leaders establish the complex bases of New Zealand's identity and nationhood: its bicultural foundation and diverse multicultural population, the rich ecological setting, national commitments to peace and sustainability, and the challenges posed by globalization. To understand the distinctive features of Maori cultural life and the contributions of Maori knowledge systems to environmental management and to governance, students explore the history of colonization, the Treaty of Waitangi and Treaty Settling truth and reconciliation processes, and the Maori renaissance. The program also explores the concept of indigeneity itself, seeking to understand how the Maori experience parallels or stands apart from indigenous experiences and movements elsewhere. Finally, students examine the tensions inherent in New Zealand's evolving national identity and its pursuit of cultural pluralism. Though New Zealand offers an acknowledged model for environmental sustainability, its economic prosperity still largely depends on a biological base, with income from international tourism and the export of resources extracted through large-scale fishing, forestry, and agriculture, industries that place enormous pressure on the natural environment.

The program is based in Wellington, with field study in areas around the North Island, including the Waikato and the Taupo regions, a Maori community on the flanks of Mt. Ruapehu, Wellington, and the greater Auckland area. In Wellington, students intern for seven weeks in a local organization, becoming directly involved in efforts and debates around wildlife conservation, environmental advocacy, sustainability, transportation, water quality, youth development, cultural pluralism, and human rights. While in Wellington, students are lodged in homestays with accredited families (room and meals are provided). During field visits, students are housed in various types of community facilities and provided with group meals which students and staff prepare together.

Learn more about the HECUA: New Zealand - Culture and the Environment: a Shared Future program.

Credits: 4.5 Knox credits for the fall or spring semester.


Click here for more information about the application process, program selection, and more!

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Printed on Monday, May 17, 2021