The Political Science Program at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, with the assistance of the University’s Division of International Studies & Programs, is pleased to introduce its Pacific Studies Program - a pioneering collaborative initiative between A&M-Kingsville and the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

The Pacific Studies Program (PSP) is being co-directed by Dr. Nirmal Goswami, Professor of Political Science, A&M-Kingsville and Dr. Elaine Webster, Director, Summer School and Continuing Education, University of Otago. The PSP will include graduate and undergraduate students traveling to and staying in New Zealand from July 5th, 2012, through July 22nd, 2012, attending classes at the University of Otago, and visiting multiple sites through field trips in the greater Otago region. Areas of focus include history, politics, economics, culture, sustainability and environmental policies, etc., with reference to both the greater Pacific region and New Zealand.

Dr. Christine Reiser-Robbins, Anthropology Program, Texas A&M-Kingsville, is directing a Service Learning Project, a special component of the PSP. The PSP will facilitate interaction between middle and high school students from Bishop School District, Texas, and Logan Park High School, Dunedin, Otago, through the application of Internet-enabled technologies.

You are all invited to cyber travel with us as we learn about the uniqueness of New Zealand and the surrounding region. This blog will document our experience. You are welcome to post comments.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Historical Methods: The University of Otago's Approach

     Excited and nearly recovered from extreme cases of jet lag, we headed off to our second seminar of the Pacific Studies course: “United States Servicemen in New Zealand and the Pacific during WWII.”  As a history major, I was looking forward to this historically-based lecture.  I was interested to see how the University’s History Department approached its topics and conducted research.  I was not disappointed.  It was obvious that the professor, Dr. Angela Wanhalla, was passionate about her research and eager to share her findings with our group.  She seemed to be a wealth of knowledge, and answered any questions we had with enthusiasm and ease.  However, I was most impressed with her methodology.  She continually emphasized history’s role in both the past and present, as well as that of the historian.  Rather than simply regurgitating facts and dates, she discussed the importance of what she was researching in relation to the people affected by it.  The majority of her research was based on accessing oral histories from sources like personal letters and interviewing direct descendants of WWII Maori war brides and US servicemen.  Also, she travelled throughout the Pacific Islands and the Americas as part of her research.  I later discovered that she teaches a course equivalent to TAMUK’s much-feared Methods of Historical Research class! This lecture gave me a perfect first impression of the University of Otago’s History Department.  I had not seriously considered it before, but I will definitely be putting in an application for postgraduates studies at this university!
      -Kelsey D.     

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