Colgate Begins New Zealand Study Group in Spring 2023

Every fall, sophomores and juniors submit applications for Colgate-run study groups where they can travel and immerse themselves in an educational and cultural experience, while other students prepare for their travels in the upcoming semester. In spring 2023, according to Associate Director of Off-Campus Study Casimer ‘Cas’ Sowa, there is a new study group in New Zealand run by Associate Professor of Economics Dean Scrimgeour.

The New Zealand study group is Colgate’s newest study abroad program with an academic focus on University Studies. Scrimgeour was inspired to lead the program as a New Zealand native. 

“I’m a Kiwi, and I am excited to introduce Colgate students to my homeland,” Scrimgeour said. 

Scrimgeour and his fellow professors developed the idea for this program in 2017 after Professor of Computer Science Joel Sommers spent a sabbatical in New Zealand. 

“Through the experience, the place left a mark on me — the landscape, the people, the Maori people and language, the earthquakes, the adrenalin sports, the amazing native birds — there is no shortage of reasons to love the place,” Sommers said. “It became self-evident that a Colgate faculty-led study group to New Zealand would be an excellent complement to the existing study group offerings and would provide some unique and very compelling experiences for students.” 

Director of Off-Campus Study Joanna Holvey Bowles explained the process through which new study groups are formed and approved by her department.

“The location is assessed, the academic need is assessed and a site visit is arranged for faculty to review the partner university and create a written report,” Bowles said. “Once a report from the site visit and data are gathered, the work to provide a structured program begins.”

In 2019, Scrimgeour and a few other professors journeyed to New Zealand to evaluate options for potential locations. After visiting his native country, Scrimgeour and his peers proposed the idea for the study group to the Department of Off-Campus Study.

“We proposed a group that would go to Otago University in Dunedin,” Scrimgeour said, “The first group was scheduled to go in spring 2022 but was canceled due to COVID-related complications. Professor Jenna Reinbold from the religion department will be leading the inaugural New Zealand Study Group in spring 2023. So from the initial planning stages until the first group departing it has been more than five years.”

The New Zealand program intends to immerse students for a semester in both the Kiwi culture and academic society at Otago University. In terms of classes, all students take a class focusing on the field of study with the specific professor leading the program. Professor Scrimgeour stated that when he leads the program, students will take a class about New Zealand’s economic policies, how those programs have evolved over time, and important policy challenges. 

“I would like my course to be focused all in the light of New Zealand’s place in the global economy,” Scrimgeour said, “As an economist, I think that New Zealand is an interesting place to study as a small, open economy. Connections with the rest of the world are very important for New Zealand, but they can also be difficult because New Zealand is so far from other countries.”

In addition to a course related to the field of study of the program’s leader, students will take a Maori studies class at Otago University that introduces Maori culture and society. In addition, students can take two more classes at the university, which would count towards their major while being New Zealand-focused.

“These courses could be classes not offered at Colgate,” Scrimgeour said. 

The New Zealand program appears to be a new, innovative study group that its founders exclaim is a very unique program that will intrigue many students. The professors that have been involved in creating the program state that any student interested in the program, regardless of concentration, should apply. 

“Otago is a comprehensive university with many different course offerings,” Scrimgeour said. “There is something for everyone there.” 

Sophomore Gabby Urbano spoke about the study group and its focus on the location and culture of New Zealand. 

“I’d love to visit New Zealand. It seems really pretty there and I think it would be really interesting to learn about New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people,” Urbano said.