RENR400: Study Abroad in Natural Resources – New Zealand and Australia (6 credits - Wintermester)

Program Dates 2014: Dec 26 - Jan 18

Program Itinerary - click to view the 2014 syllabus and itinerary

Course description
This course uses two distinct contexts to explore issues of sustainability, conservation, and biodiversity. Beginning on the South Island of New Zealand, we explore topics related to sustainable development (sustaining human societies and the natural environment) through educational travel, field trips, active participation, lecture presentations and seminars, and coursework exercises. The goal of the New Zealand Program is integrate different perspectives drawn from the natural, biological, and social sciences to improve understanding of relationships between human societies and the natural environment.

In Sydney, the program’s focus moves from the remote natural environments of New Zealand’s South Island to an urbanized, human‐influenced context. The Sydney program focuses on urban sustainability in/around the metropolis of Sydney, a city that is home to nearly a quarter of Australia's population. Topics include urban sustainability (including energy use, carbon emissions, and global climate change), conservation of natural resources for human use (tourism/ recreation, agriculture, and preservation), and urban planning (land use and transportation).

Course Objectives
By the end of the program students will:

  1. Understand the natural history, biogeography, ecological diversity, and related social and cultural contexts of New Zealand through an exploration of the South Island’s network of national parks and protected areas;
  2. Understand the impacts of human actions on the natural systems, and human responses to those changes, using the case of New Zealand’s South Island and the Sydney Metropolitan Area;
  3. Develop an understanding of ecological education practices, integrated natural resource management, and conservation in both wildland and urban contexts;
  4. Be able to address relationships between human societies and their natural environments from multiple disciplinary perspectives and to develop a complex, multi‐faceted and holistic view of human – environment connections that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries;
  5. Know and appreciate the impacts of human actions on natural systems and human responses to those changes;
  6. Understand social change and urban planning in/around Sydney.

Attendance and Lateness Policy 
Punctual attendance at all scheduled, program–related activities is required, including group meetings, discussions, field excursions, as well as lectures and any other scheduled activities. Participation in field activities (such as hiking, snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, etc) is voluntary and at the discretion of the student; however, should you wish not to participate you must inform the instructor and an alternate activity will be assigned. An excused absence or decision not to participate in one or any of these field activities will not affect your grade for the course. During the field studies, no student is to leave the group without the consent of the faculty supervisor. Unless an absence is approved by one of the instructors or the program directors, students will lose 10% of their final grade for each day or part‐day they fail to participate. Any unexcused absences or continued late arrival to program activities may, at the discretion of the faculty supervisor, be grounds for dismissal from the program.

Academic Honesty
Upon accepting admission to Texas A&M University, a student immediately assumes a commitment to uphold the Honor Code, to accept responsibility for learning and to follow the philosophy and rules of the Honor System. Students will be required to state their commitment on examinations, research papers, and other academic work. Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the Texas A&M University community from the requirements or the processes of the Honor System. For additional information please visit:

On all course work, assignments, and examinations at Texas A&M University, the following Honor Pledge shall be preprinted and signed by the student:

“On my honor, as an Aggie, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this academic work.” Cheating encompasses the following:

1. The willful giving or receiving of an unauthorized, unfair, dishonest, or unscrupulous advantage in academic work over other students.
2. The above may be accomplished by any means whatsoever, including but not limited to the following: fraud; duress; deception; theft; trick; talking; signs; gestures; copying from another student; and the unauthorized use of study aids, memoranda, books, data, or other information.
3. Attempted cheating.

Plagiarism encompasses the following:
1. Presenting as one's own the words, the work, or the opinions of someone else without proper acknowledgment.
2. Borrowing the sequence of ideas, the arrangement of material, or the pattern of thought of someone else without proper acknowledgment.
3. Depending on the severity of the indiscretion, cheating and plagiarism may result in automatic course failure.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Policy Statement 
The following ADA Policy Statement (part of the Policy on Individual Disabling Conditions) was submitted to the University Curriculum Committee by the Department of Student Life. The policy statement was forwarded to the Faculty Senate for information. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal antidiscrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Department of Student Life, Services for Students with Disabilities in Room B118 of Cain Hall or call 845‐1637.

After class it is time to head to the beach.