New Zealand Regional Area Study

Program Snapshot
Semester: Spring
Offered: Spring 2024, Spring 2028
Estimated Dates: Early January to mid-April
Program Focus:

Regional Area Study with Biogeography, Ecology, and Science Studies Emphasis

Prerequisites: Minimum 2.75 GPA is highly recommended. Students must satisfy the Words and Numbers CORE requirement before participating in an overseas program.
Spring 2024
Program Leader:

Maryann Bylander
Associate Professor of Sociology, 503-768-7617

Program Design

As a “lost” part of the ancient Gondwonan super-continent, New Zealand has a rich ecological and cultural history that exemplifies the theme of isolation and repeated colonization. The program focuses on both the cultural and ecological nuances of this unique location, allowing students to immerse themselves in the cultural history and biodiversity of New Zealand. The program is open to all students and will emphasize science from a non-specialist perspective.

Students will benefit from the opportunity of experiencing a unique culture and by gaining a thorough understanding of sociopolitical issues and the ecology of both islands. The goal will be to experience another culture while participating in a rigorous program of scientific merit. Students with majors from throughout the College are encouraged to apply. Many students have already expressed interest in the program and we anticipate a large qualified applicant pool, therefore be sure to submit your application in a timely manner.

New Zealand is a fascinating place and exists as an effective parliamentary democracy while being one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth. As a “lost” part of the ancient super-continent it has a rare diversity of species and remains incredibly unspoiled. This diversity and preservation allows for study of science and ecology that can occur nowhere else in the world.  Additionally, it is served by seven regular universities and several specialized language and culture associations. Infrastructure, health care, and technology are very comparable to what we have in the United States. These characteristics make New Zealand an ideal place for an undergraduate overseas experience.

About the Program Leader: Maryann Bylander: “I am a sociologist by training, and my research focuses on questions of international migration, global development, finance/debt, and non-governmental organizations. Most of my work relates to Southeast Asia, where I lived for several years while running a small nonprofit. At home I enjoy baking, reading and getting outside to hike, climb, and bike with my husband and our three-year old daughter. We can’t wait to experience New Zealand with Lewis & Clark students!”


Requirements Fulfilled:

General Education - This program fulfills the Global Perspectives general education requirement for students who successfully complete 8 or more semester credits.

IS 295 fulfills the Culture, Power, and Identity general education requirement. 

BIO 115 fulfills the Scientific & Quantitative Reasoning Category A or Natural Sciences general education requirement (may not be applied to the Biology major).

Credits: 16 credits (4 courses)


IS 294: Cultural Ecology of New Zealand (4 credits)

Overview of New Zealand’s approach to the conservation of its indigenous biota. Lecture-based material will cover New Zealand’s policy and planning approach, provide examples of conservation practice focused on single endangered species, outline the increasing importance of landscape restoration, and discuss challenges to the conservation ethic arising from unsustainable human resource use and short-term economics. Field visits to sites of active conservation management will demonstrate a wide range of practices and a diversity of conservation ambition. Presentations at field sites by people doing the conservation work will emphasize the diversity of conservation action undertaken in New Zealand.

IS 295: Repeated Colonization, a History of New Zealand (4 credits)

Emphasis on original colonization by Polynesians, and secondary colonization by Europeans. Effect of history on the political system, present-day economy, and the environment. Will cover pre- European history, current government and legislative processes, health, education, and other services, New Zealand’s current role in the international community.

BIO 115: Explorations in Regional Biology, New Zealand Flora & Fauna (4 credits)

Learn how New Zealand’s natural history has evolved to be so different from that found on continental landmasses. Lecture-based material will cover New Zealand’s geological origin, the basic principles of island ecology and historical biogeography, the evolution in isolation of New Zealand’s flora and fauna and provide an explanation of its special vulnerabilities. Field trips will give hands-on experience with native plants and animals, and demonstrate principles covered in the lectures. 

Topics include:

  • Origin and evolution of the New Zealand landmass – Zealandia explained
  • Modern New Zealand – late Cenozoic evolution of the New Zealand landmass and interpretation of the landform we see today
  • What is historical biogeography?
  • ‘Islandism’ – flightlesness, body size/leaf size differences, fearlessness
  • New Zealand forests - sources, evolution and relationships
  • Alpine vegetation
  • Ancient vegetation, the fossil record and other evidence
  • Birds and bats
  • Marine mammals
  • New Zealand spiders – how different are they and what relationships do they have?

IS 296: Environment, Society & Natural Resource Management (4 credits)

Examines the major environmental issues and challenges New Zealand faces today, highlighting the policy and management frameworks that are in place to address these environmental issues. Students will critically appraise the role of citizen science and science communication in shaping New Zealand’s future and examine how well currently employed policy and management mechanisms achieve the goal of environmental sustainability. Field trips will provide a hands-on insight into current environmental issues in New Zealand.

Topics include:

  • Climate change and New Zealand’s future
  • Indigenous perspectives on natural resources
  • Water quality - the clean green myth
  • Sustainable farming
  • Sustainable energy
  • Citizen science
  • Science studies
  • Communication and persuasion
  • Science writing

Both of the last two courses will explore some of the most revolutionary ideas in the history of science. Continental drift, for example, was not universally accepted by the mainstream scientific community in the 1970s, and its implications have still not fully been integrated into our understanding of patterns of distribution of species. Likewise, scientific understandings of anthropogenic climate change remain much in dispute. These courses will explore these and other scientific controversies in the history of science while immersing students in the rich biodiversity of New Zealand.

Required Reading: 

Ghosts of Gondwana: The History of Life in New Zealand - 2006, by George Gibbs


2024-2025 Fee Breakdown*

Total Fee (includes Tuition, Program Fee, and Health & Wellness Fee): $40,962

Tuition: $32,197

Program Fee: $8,728

Health & Wellness Fee: $37**

Included in the program fee are room/housing, board/meals, and administrative fees. Not included are airfare, passport and visa expenses, primary insurance coverage, photographs, books, immunizations, and incidentals. 

*Fees are updated every February for the following academic year.

**The Health & Wellness Fee supports the operations of Wellness Services staff in delivering pre-program orientation services, as well as in providing health-related consultation regarding participant health needs. All students in the College of Arts and Sciences pay a mandatory fee of $37 per semester.

Stipend: Students will receive a stipend to cover the cost of meals and transportation costs not covered by the program fee.

Estimated Airfare (Round Trip PDX to AKL): $1,200 - $2,000

Estimated Travel Document Fees: $50

Estimated Health Insurance Fee: $1,906

All students participating in overseas programs are automatically enrolled in iNext, a supplemental travel insurance program. The fee for iNext is covered in the program cost. However, students are also required to have comprehensive health insurance during their time abroad. All students participating in overseas programs, both abroad and domestic, are automatically enrolled in the College’s student health insurance program. Similar to a regular semester on-campus, students participating in overseas programs may waive enrollment in the student health insurance program if they have other comprehensive health insurance (e.g., through a parent, guardian or employer) that 1) provides coverage for them in the geographic region in which they will be studying and 2) includes mental health benefits. Click here for more information regarding health insurance & overseas programs.

Program Preparation

Application Process: Applications are due one year before the start of the program. The semester before the program, students who have been accepted into the program will meet with the group and the program leader regularly

For more information about the application process, click here.

Travel: Students usually fly into the Auckland airport (AKL), where they meet the group and travel together to their next destination.

Visa: Students will be required to apply for a visa in order to participate in this program. More information will be provided upon admission to the program.

Country-Specific Health Information: Click here to view specific health information for people traveling to New Zealand.

State Department Country Information: Click here to visit the State Department’s New Zealand page.

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