Environmental Sustainability in New Zealand

Queenstown harbor view
Learn first-hand the environmental issues facing New Zealand, with a focus on the policies being implemented to address these issues.
Location: South Island, New Zealand
Language of Instruction: English
Term: Winter Break
Academic Disciplines: EconomicsEnvironmental Studies
Program Type: Faculty-led
Open to non-KU Students: No
Fulfills KU Core 4.2: No
Fulfills KU Core 5: No

  • Spend 13 days studying environmental sustainability and policy in the breathtakingly beautiful south island of New Zealand.
  • Educational excursions to environmentally sustainable businesses (e.g., winery, bakery), the South Alps of New Zealand, and more.
  • Experience first-hand the New Zealand approach to sustainable living.
  • Develop the knowledge and skills necessary to think effectively about environmental problems from an economic perspective.

The Environmental Sustainability of New Zealand winter program, held during the summer of New Zealand, is designed to provide students with first-hand exposure to the environmental issues facing New Zealand, with a focus on the policies being implemented to address these issues. The program is held in Christchurch and Queenstown, with easy access to the best natural wonders of New Zealand. Both cities offer notable examples of sustainable living: (1) reliable and inexpensive public transportation, (2) extensive renewable energy generation, (3) comprehensive curb-side recycling, and (4) access to vast open spaces. (In particular, Queenstown serves as a fantastic base for high adventure outdoor recreation and represents one of the best places where the world’s “beautiful people” come to engage with nature.) Class field trips explore these noted amenities. In addition to classroom discussion and local field trips, students engage with policy experts in order to better appreciate the formulation of environmental protection policies.

South Island, New Zealand

New Zealand is an isolated group of islands in the south-western Pacific, renowned for their natural beauty and pristine environment. The landscape and natural resources are different from much of the rest of the world. At the same time, New Zealand has a highly developed modern economy and is an international hub for industry and innovation. The country is a leader in using renewable energy and demonstrates a commitment to environmental sustainability.

This study abroad program is held on the South Island of New Zealand which boasts majestic glaciers and mountains, beautiful landscapes and unique wildlife. Students will explore the vibrant cities of Christchurch and Queenstown. Christchurch is a lively university city and largest city on the South Island and Queenstown is stunning city surrounded by the natural beauty of Lake Wakatipu and mountain ranges. 

Three hours of upper-level undergraduate credit are granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the program, which offers a single course on environmental economics in New Zealand. In addition to an exploration of pressing environmental matters in New Zealand, this course provides an overview of the theory, analytical approaches, and research methods, especially empirical research methods, of economic analysis as it applies to environmental issues.

The program offers students three ways to enroll in the environmental economics course:

For students majoring or minoring in economics or environmental studies: 

•ECON 550: Environmental Economics: Research Methods and Analytical Approaches

•EVRN 550: Environmental Economics: Research Methods and Analytical Approaches

For all majors:

•ECON 310: Environmental Economics in New Zealand

The ECON 550 and EVRN 550 course options involve these additional elements:

•Course counts for upper-level elective credit.

•Students must have completed prior to the program either ECON 142 Principles of Microeconomics or ECON 104 Introductory Economics.

•A student must complete a small project on an environmental topic relevant for New Zealand chosen by the student with approval from Professor Earnhart.

Students will stay in centrally located dormitory or student hostel in Christchurch and Queenstown.

2024 Program Dates

  • Depart U.S.: January 1, 2024
  • Arrive New Zealand: January 3, 2024
  • Depart New Zealand & arrive in U.S.: January 14, 2024

During the program, students will participate in several excursions that illustrate concepts learned in the classroom and provide exposure to different facets of life in New Zealand. Planned excursions include a tour of a local bakery to view its sustainability practices; exploration of Queenstown’s hydroelectric dam; and hiking in the South Alps. Students will receive a public transportation pass for the duration of the program in order to conveniently get around Christchurch and Queenstown

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.

Open to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from any accredited U.S. college or university. It is recommended that participants have completed ECON 142 (Principles of Microeconomics), ECON 104 (Introductory Economics), or their equivalent prior to departure. This said, no prior coursework is required for students enrolling in ECON 310. Minimum 2.5 GPA required, but exceptions considered after submission of a petition.

Dietrich Earnhart is a Professor in the Department of Economics and is affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program; Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies; and the Center for Latin American Studies.  In addition, he serves as the director of the Center for Environmental Policy within the Institute for Policy and Social Research (IPSR).  He has previously taught study abroad courses in Germany, Costa Rica, Italy, and Slovakia and frequently teaches two levels of environmental economic courses on campus in Lawrence.