History, Culture, and Programs in Health and Environmental Communication


Communication 451: Environmental Communication, 3 credits (CRN 20054)
Communication 496:  Field Studies in Communication: New Zealand History, Culture, Health and Environmental Communication, 3 credits (CRN 20055)
Communication 586:  Graduate Field Studies in Communication: New Zealand History, Culture, Health and Environmental Communication, 3 credits (CRN 20056)


For Comm 586: Admission to Graduate Program


A limited number of $1250 scholarships will be available on a competitive basis to matriculated CCSU students with a GPA of at least 2.50 who are registered for at least one of the academic courses associated with this program.

This two week tour of the North Island of New Zealand will provide participants with a real feel for this beautiful and fascinating country – probably the most clean/green country in the developed world - where the people are friendly, speak English, and travel conditions are as safe as they are in the U.S.. The tour will be conducted by two professors who are very familiar with the country having spent nearly two years between them living, teaching and conducting research there recently. Professor Tyson’s expertise focuses on the communication aspects of environmental change issues. Professor Unson’s expertise focuses on health communication.

The group will travel to the undeveloped sacred northern tip of Cape Reinga and as far south as the wondrous Lake Taupo area (one of the largest calderas in the world) visiting many special places in between. Throughout the trip, participants will learn from local experts about the history and culture of the country from both a Maori (indigenous) and European cultural perspective. They will be hosted for one night in the Waipou forest enclave of the local Iwi (Maori community) and be taken on an evening hike into the ancient Kauri forest to visit trees (and their spirits) that date back 2000 years. This is an amazing experience. If participants are lucky they may see a Kiwi, a rare nocturnal bird that is the basis for New Zealanders’ being known as “kiwis”.  Participants will visit Waitangi where the treaty between the Maori and European was signed. They will be hosted there by a distant relative of the paramount chief from that time who is an activist today with contemporary Maori- rights issues. He describes the history of the country up to present day like few can. Later that same day a Maori theatre troop will perform a private show for the group in the Waitangi Marae (temple/meetings house) of an award winning play that spans the 1800s with contemporary Maori life. In addition, near the end of the tour, the group will be hosted by an Iwi in the Rotorua area and spend the night at their Marae and be treated to a traditional Maori concert and Hangi (dinner cooked in traditional ways underground over coals or over thermal vents).

Participants will also be learning how strategic communication practices are used by governmental and nongovernmental agencies to affect the health and environmental behaviors of their target audiences throughout the tour. This is particularly interesting in a country where access to health care is universal and where the economy is primarily agriculture-based and therefore people are highly dependent on cooperative uses of water and land resources to build and sustain their businesses. There will be lectures by national experts at the University of Auckland, the University of Waikato and the Waikato Regional Council. And there will be several field trips to health care organizations and farmers engaged in ecosystem restoration projects.

In addition to these scholarly pursuits, the group will travel along the undeveloped ninety-mile beach to the far northern tip of the island where the South Pacific and the Tasman Sea meet – a breathtakingly beautiful sight where they will have time to picnic and swim at a pristine beach. The New Year holiday will be spent at Pahia in the Bay of Islands, a small beach town rated one of the best places to bring in the new year. Participants will have time there to swim, kayak, and hike. As the group travels south, they will visit the actual film set for the Shire in the film The Hobbit at a farm outside of Hamilton – a favorite stop-over of the tour. Nearer the end of the trip, the group will stay on the shores of the beautiful Lake Taupo – an icon of New Zealand. The view across the lake of the snow-capped Mt. Tongariro is magnificent. They will again have time to swim, kayak, and hike there.

The group will travel in a 24 seat bus with a wonderfully jolly driver and stay in dorm style backpacker lodges and cabins at camp grounds with communal kitchens. To keep costs down, they will prepare some of their own meals. Participants will eat breakfast together at the lodging most mornings, lunches on the road often, and cook their own dinners several times. In Auckland, Paihia, Hamilton and Taupo participants will be able to wander the town and eat on their own at various restaurants of their choosing.

For participants taking Comm 496 or 586, two orientation sessions at CCSU that will include basic instruction on health and environmental social marketing in New Zealand will be required of participants in December prior to departure.  For participants taking Comm 451, four orientation sessions at CCSU that will include advanced instruction on environmental communication and social marketing in New Zealand will be required of participants in November/December prior to departure.

Undergraduate students seeking three credits for Comm 496 or Comm 451 will keep a daily journal of their observations, participate in group discussions, and write a summary paper at the end of the course based on what they learned about environmental or health communication in New Zealand. In addition to the requirements for undergraduate students, graduate students seeking three credits for Comm 451 or Comm 586 will develop a scholarly paper upon their return that draws on relevant literature and their experiences from the trip that either contrasts environmental social marketing or health communication in socially-driven versus market-driven economies. Competencies students will exhibit at the end of all of the courses include: 

•    an understanding of the diversity of values, beliefs, ideas in New Zealand
•    an understanding of one’s own culture vis-a-vis New Zealand culture
•    an ability to communicate effectively and interact with people from other cultures
•    an ability to cope with unfamiliar settings with resiliency
•    knowledge of contemporary public health and/or environmental conservation issues in New Zealand
•    knowledge of strategic communication-based measures used to remediate these contemporary public health and/or environmental conservation problems

Registration Information and Program Costs

The cost of the travel program includes round-trip airport transfers in the U.S. and abroad, economy-class international airfare, multiple-occupancy accommodations, most meals, and ground transportation and entrance fees to all required site visits. All personal expenses (i.e., medical, souvenirs, laundry, telephone, etc.) are not included.   Course tuition is not included in the Course Abroad program fee.

Fulfillment of the University's International Requirement: 

All credits earned overseas on a CCSU-sponsored study abroad program, including courses offered in conjunction with Course Abroad programs, automatically receive "I Designation" and count toward fulfillment of the University's General Education International Requirement.

Registration Form

Registration deadline extended to October 15, 2013



$3,895 per person

Travel Dates

December 26 - January  10, 2014

Faculty Directors

Prof. C. Ben Tyson
Communication Department, CCSU
(860) 832-2699

Prof. Christine Unson
Public Health Department, SCSU
(860) 392-7029

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