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Sustaining Human Society and the Natural Environment - (PTRM 345)

Credits: 3-6 | Offered: Winter and Summer
Instructor(s): Borrie

Who should take this course?

These field-based, experiential classes focus on the environmental and conservation concerns, as well as the modern & traditional cultures, of Australia, New Zealand, or Fiji. They are offered Winter and Summer semesters. They are intense, academically rigorous, and interdisciplinary in design, such that they are suitable for students of all backgrounds and majors. While they have no pre-requisites, as junior-level courses students are expected to have good study skills and habits.

Why should I study abroad?

Everyone has a different answer to this question, but UM students who have studied abroad are very enthusiastic about its advantages. Here’s some of the most common:

  • Academic/intellectual growth: Students learn adaptive, problem solving skills as well as intercultural communication skills; they broaden their perspectives on geography and history; they are exposed to people who think and process information differently than they do.
  • Professional gain: Students interact with a wide range of professionals, gain a sense of drive and direction for their future career, and gain a broader sense of responsibility in a global academic environment.
  • Personal experience: Students can gain an appreciation about what we have here in the United States and they often develop more self-confidence, greater adaptability to a variety of situations and self-reliance. You will see the world from a different perspective.
  • Inter-cultural savvy: Students develop an increased interest in our increasingly-globalized world as they become aware of cultural difference, encountering different priorities and ways of life, becoming more culturally sensitive and accepting.
  • Resume building: Many employers operate internationally and many areas in the United States have diverse populations. International experiences are an important advantage for prospective employers.

There are an increasingly number of U.S. colleges and universities that are requiring a study abroad experience prior to graduation.

Australia, New Zealand and Fiji are ideal and unique places to study conservation and the sustainable management of natural resources. They have amazing ecological diversity and complexity, vibrant indigenous & modern cultures, and challenging issues of economic, social, and ecological sustainability. We believe that today’s environmental and conservation issues will take complex, integrated, global approaches that will transcend international boundaries. Students are challenged to consider their own social and environmental impacts and how their future professional aspirations can change our society.

What will I learn?

Each of the programs uses the theme of sustainable development to explore the relationship between people and their natural environment. As an example, the New Zealand program focuses on issues of ecotourism, sheep farming, land tenure, conservation management, ecological restoration, alpine recreation, global climate change, Maori history and traditional use of resources. More details on all three programs can be found at

These courses develop a global perspective on human-nature interactions, with an emphasis on ethical, economic, and ecological worldviews. Each course focuses on environmental and conservation concerns, as well as the modern & traditional cultures of Australia, New Zealand or Fiji. Studying environments and cultures far from our home not only sharpens our own knowledge and priorities, but also introduces different views, different values, and different approaches.