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Global Citizenship at Otago

Global Citizenship at Otago

Like other MNU members, the University of Otago is involved in a wide range of activities relating to global citizenship; examples of some of these activities are provided below (though this is not an exhaustive list).

Student Empowerment and Engagement

Ignite Consultants: Ignite is a student-run non-profit organisation that provides free business advice and strategic planning to charities in Dunedin and Wellington.  Ignite provides students with a unique opportunity to actively engage with their local community in a professional capacity and to work collaboratively with other innovative and socially motivated students.

Generation Zero: Generation Zero is a student-led organisation dedicated to reaching the target of zero carbon emissions and providing solutions for New Zealand to cut carbon pollution through smarter transport, liveable cities and independence from fossil fuels.  It operates on a grass-roots, self-organising, non-partisan basis, constantly evolving to meet the challenges being faced.  The organisation has branches at universities in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton as well as Otago.

Otago University Medical Students Association (OUMSA): OUMSA is a student organisation which represents and serves the needs of medical students at the university, but which also organises many activities within the Division of Health Sciences and throughout the wider community.  The association has various subsidiary groups, including Medical Students for Global Awareness (MSGA), which operates at both university and national levels.  Recent initiatives have included: public lunchtime seminars, featuring speakers from inside and outside the university, and aiming to raise awareness on a variety of global health issues; peer education sessions, enabling members to develop their understanding of areas such as Women’s Health, Child Poverty and Climate Change; advocacy campaigns and submissions to government consultation processes; fundraising to support both local and international charities.

University of Otago Volunteer Centre (UVC): UVC is the channel through which students can connect with volunteer opportunities in the community.  All students at Otago are able to register with UniCrew Volunteers, the key volunteer programme administered by the UVC.  Registered students are able to access an online database of volunteer opportunities, which is curated to provide roles that help students to make contributions to the community and, in the process, also develop their personal skills and leadership.  The UVC also works with 14 residential colleges to integrate volunteering into their annual schedule of events and overall college culture.

Aspire Programme: Aspire is an after-school programme for primary school children, initiated by the University of Otago Volunteer Centre.  Offered twice a year, the programme is an 8-week experience for 12 Year 8 students from low-decile schools in the Dunedin area, run by senior University of Otago students.  It aims to help children at risk of disengaging from learning as they transition into high school and to develop their confidence through fun and engaging learning experiences on campus.

Student Leadership Award: The Award is an extended leadership programme designed to enhance students’ leadership potential and to enhance the experience and benefits of volunteering.  The programme requires completion of at least 170 hours of service and leadership activities over a minimum period of two years; of the 170 hours, 120 hours must be in leadership roles.

Otago Global Citizen Award: All students returning to Otago from an exchange abroad who are actively engaged in the promotion of the Otago Global Exchange Programme can be considered for this award.  Up to 3 awards are made per semester in recognition of significant engagement in self-directed promotional activities (such as regular blogs) and/or support of institutionally arranged promotional activities.


AQFI301: Field Methods for Assessment of Fisheries and Aquatic Habitats (Department of Marine Science): This paper is offered as part of the major in Aquaculture and Fisheries for the Bachelor of Applied Science degree and is based on an 8-day field course at one of the Marae (tribal home and headquarters) in the vicinity of Dunedin.  Subjects for research in the field study are selected by the students from a list of topics that are of importance to the tribe, Kati Huirapa.  In selecting a topic students must assess the feasibility of arriving at a useful contribution, and at the conclusion of the field research they give a presentation on their findings to Kati Huirapa.

BSNS301: Internship Practicum (Otago Business School): This programme involves a 6-12 month credit-bearing in-company internship, typically taken between a student’s second and third year of study for the BCom (Bachelor of Commerce) degree.  Once accepted as an intern, the student takes primary responsibility for designing a project that is the basis for assessment in the course.  Interns submit a monthly reflective log on their progress and complete two final reports: one for the company, the other for the university, including citations to the academic literature that has informed the project.

Food Waste Module (Department of Food Science): This special topic paper for honours and postgraduate (4th year) students requires students to specify and develop their own projects, positioning them as change agents and co-creators of learning and teaching.  This is done by having students take responsibility for establishing and implementing a ‘real life’ community engagement campaign about a social and/or environmental issue relating to food disposal.  In 2015 the group project involved building a partnership with the Dunedin City Council to fund and screen the film Just Eat It, followed by a series of three public workshops on how to use food less wastefully.

Master of International Studies: This one-year Master’s programme aims at equipping students to understand and to operate with confidence in the global environment.  This is achieved through seminar discussions, debates, simulation exercises, and independent research, led by senior academics who are all specialists in their fields.  The programme prepares students for careers in diplomacy, international business, research, teaching, journalism, and the public service.


Shephard, K., Bourk, M., Mirosa, M., & Dulgar, P. (2016). What global perspective does our university foster in our students? Environmental Education Research.  ABSTRACT: We used a modified circuit of culture enquiry to explore processes of production, representation and consumption of global perspective at our university, in the context of fostering this perspective as a graduate attribute.  We identified four frame packages by which this perspective is understood and communicated.  Global perspective is framed within our institution simultaneously as essentially cooperative and as competitive.  We express concern about how such complexity is fostered in our students.  We ask our colleagues and university teachers internationally to critically reflect upon the diversity of global perspectives extant within higher education and potentially to clarify their intentions as university teachers.

Education for Sustainability: These web resources, developed by Professor Kerry Shephard and colleagues, bring together sources of information about Education for Sustainability at the University of Otago, with the aim of supporting academic staff as they explore concepts of Education for Sustainability.  They do not seek to duplicate resources available elsewhere, but rather to provide a single point of access to these resources.

He Kitenga Magazine: He Kitenga is the University’s annual research highlights publication.  The 2015 edition focussed particularly on researchers, groups and centres who have undertaken work that has touched the lives of people all around the world.