Learning About Sustainability Against the Backdrop of The Lord of the Rings

New Zealand study abroad group

UM students in undergraduate and graduate programs in the School of Business Administration and School of Forestry and Conservation set out on their intensive New Zealand and Australia study abroad experience on December 27 and returned on January 19.  Led by Prof. Shawn Clouse of the MIS Department, the program examined international business, focusing on business sustainability practices and issues in New Zealand and Sydney, Australia. 

Shortly after their arrival in New Zealand, students toured Queenstown. They spent a full day learning about the city’s sustainable tourism.  The group then hiked around Lake Wakatipu, enjoying the “million dollar view” and experiencing the sustainable tourism for themselves.  Clouse said that many of scenes from the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were shot in this area’s native beechwood forest.  They also took a guided hike to Mount Cook, which ended in a stay at Mount Cook Backpackers Lodge.

Next, the students traveled to Christchurch and received and introduction to New Zealand’s business environment from accounting experts and the Director of American Universities International Programs.  They participated in a service-learning project in an area of Christchurch that had been destroyed by a 2011 earthquake, were awed by the vibrant street art and heard from an expert on destination marketing following a major natural disaster.

In Kaikoura, guides taught the group about Maori customs and took them to one of the native forests to learn about the way in which the Maori use native plants.  The next lecture involved Maori business ethics, the Maori business model and whale watching sustainability issues.  During their free time, students swam with dolphins in the coastal waters off Kaikoura.

The whirlwind trip included a homestay in Motueka and a winery tour and introduction to winery operations, business strategies and long-term planning and marketing.  While in Motueka, the owner of Abel Tasman Kayaks gave the group a tourism operator’s perspective on Abel Tasman National Park and then sent them on a full-day kayaking and walking tour.  Thereafter, the group proceeded to explore the business of fisheries in Nelson City and agriculture and energy production in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital.

On the last leg of the trip, the group flew to Sydney, Australia, and visited the International College of Management.   Before their return flight, they learned about Australian business from guest lecturers and toured Sydney landmarks.