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UC’s unique study abroad programme

24 June 2024

Frontiers Abroad is a semester-long study abroad programme that provides students from the United States with an enriching academic and experiential adventure in New Zealand.

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The ‘Geology of New Zealand’ and ‘Earth and Environmental Sciences’ programmes are both offered at Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC). The programmes integrate classroom learning with hands-on field and research experiences, allowing the students to delve deeper into New Zealand's unique landscapes and cultures.  

“New Zealand is a destination for geologists. It’s a place that has such diverse landscapes and geology very close together. So, when you teach students in the field, you don’t have to travel very far,” says Frontiers Abroad Programme Lead Associate Professor Darren Gravley.  

From conducting research in diverse ecosystems to engaging with Māori heritage, students gain a comprehensive understanding of the country's environmental and social dynamics. This immersive experience not only fosters personal growth and wellbeing but also prepares students for global citizenship and future career opportunities in an increasingly interconnected world.

Associate Professor Gravley says what is really unique about this programme is that each student has their own research project. “We don’t call it research, we call it authentic research,” he says.

"We are utilising our network around New Zealand, working with different communities and hapū (subtribe) on solving problems in the environment. Many of the projects provide community outcomes across the broad themes of sustainability, ecological rehabilitation, climate change adaptation, earthquake and volcanic hazards, and renewable energy.”

The programme is running for the 17th year and sees over 60 students joining the University of Canterbury annually to have what many past students have referred to as a ‘life-changing’ experience.


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