BIOL 354: Ecology and Culture of the Maori Nation

Basic information

  • Location: New Zealand
  • Dates: 5/6/2024 - 5/28/2024
  • Cost: $5250-$6300 + airfare (estimate)

Note: This program is currently closed to new applications.

The small island nation of New Zealand is one of the world’s most remote nations and the last major landmass to be settled by humans.

New Zealand has long been isolated from all other major land masses, leading to the development of stunning landscapes that have inspired fantasy worlds in film and literature. These landscapes are filled with flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world, including the iconic kiwi bird, flightless bats, the world’s heaviest insect (wētā), and ancient forests of massive kauri trees. New Zealand is also home to the Indigenous Māori people, who settled these islands by canoe less than 1,000 years ago. Their culture developed largely in isolation until European colonization in the 1800s, resulting in a complex social context that impacts the national, cultural, and religious identity of the people of New Zealand. At the forefront of these issues are concerns regarding conservation of and access to the nation’s natural resources. Participants in this course will spend three weeks experiencing the culture and ecology of the north island of New Zealand. Students will visit several Māori villages (maraes), where they will interact with local residents and explore the intersection of Indigenous and Western cultures. Students will also be introduced to many of the North Island’s characteristic ecosystems through regular field excursions. Together, participants will reflect on the intersection of Christianity and Indigenous religion and how both have influenced issues of cultural identity and ecological stewardship. Coursework will include readings to be completed before the trip, frequent group activities and discussions, and daily writing in a journal to reflect on relevant issues and experiences. This course is open to students of all majors and will carry a global regions and cultures tag (pending approval by the core program governance committee). Credits can also be applied towards 300-level biology electives for students majoring in biology or environmental health and conservation.


2 credits


$5250-$6300 + airfare (estimate)

Questions / contact

Ryan Bebej

Ryan Bebej

Associate Professor
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William Miller

William Miller

Assistant Professor
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