Maria Bortolucci, a junior pursuing her International Affairs degree with a focus on Latin America, and Shannon Di Virgilio, a senior pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Political Science describe their experiences with Massey University.

About the Program

The PSIA Department partners with Massey University, enabling three students per semester to take Massey University of New Zealand’s course, “Intelligence in the Security Environment.” This is an opportunity to interact with students and professors globally and gain international experience without the expense or required time away.

This undergraduate course is offered only in their spring semester. While the program does not count toward study abroad, the cross-cultural experience is rewarding and provides a unique Asia-Pacific perspective.

To hear Dr. Armstrong’s take on the program, click HERE.

Fill out this application to take advantage of this unique program. Your application is due no later than October 12, 2020, for the Spring 2021 semester.

Maria’s and Shannon’s Experiences

Maria, from Rio Claro, a city in the state of São Paulo in Brazil, graduated from Colégio Objetivo Rio Claro High School. Shannon is from Ellijay, GA, and graduated from Gilmer High School.

Maria was introduced to the exchange program through Dr. Armstrong-Williams and Dr. Harris during her Fall 2019 classes. After receiving the news that she was selected to attend the class, she met with her academic advisor, Dr. Harris, to analyze how this class would fit her plan of study.

Once this was established, she worked with Ms. Saunders as well as Procter Yuka, the coordinator for student mobility from Massey University.

Shannon was introduced to the program through Dr. Miner when he announced it to his class.  She also worked with Dr. Mienie and Dr. Armstrong Williams throughout the process.

Shannon notes that, “this ‘study abroad’ experience provides her with the opportunity to explore the intelligence field as a profession.” Even though the lectures are recorded, “Dr. Rhys Ball makes it as if we were sitting in a traditional classroom.”

Students watch the recorded lectures via an Adobe Connect program. There are no required textbooks for the class; however, Dr. Rhys Ball uses both “required and recommended articles from different authors to teach the class,” says Maria. This is similar to the International Relations Theory course offered by Dr. Greathouse, who also uses a large variety of scholarly journals rather than textbooks. Maria notes, “this is beneficial because it allows students to have a greater contact with primary sources and the way of thinking of the actual scholars who developed the theories.”

Maria says that she was excited to learn about the differences between the New Zealand and United States perspectives on education. She describes some of these differences being, “the grading system used, the grading weight distribution for each assignment, the organization of the class, and the different learning platform that is used.”  There are several tests throughout the semester, as well as two six-page essays and a final examination. Another difference is that their first semester, which corresponds to the U.S. spring semester, starts at the end of February and goes through the end of June.

Maria was looking forward to expanding her knowledge of security within international affairs. She notes, “this class will also provide unique case studies for the Asia-Pacific region that will contribute to my expertise in the region of concentration, Latin America, and broaden my understanding beyond this region. “

Maria notes that the course “requires a great amount of self-motivation, responsibility, and organizational skills.” As New Zealand’s time zone is eighteen hours ahead of Georgia, you have to be extremely attentive to the time in New Zealand so you do not miss the deadline of assignments.

Shannon uses Sundays as her “class day to make sure that [she] is on top of [her] homework/readings for the class.” 

Maria describes the application process as such:


  1. Go to the Massey University UNG page and complete the Study Abroad and Student Exchange Application form
  2. Submit documents to Massey University, such as your UNG transcript, passport, etc.
  3. Complete a few simple steps on UNG Banner in order for Ms. Saunders to register you for the class as a Special Topics course – POLS 4724.
  4. Once you submit all of the necessary documents to Massey, their IT team creates a username and temporary password for you to gain access to their system (the equivalent of UNG’s D2L and Banner in one place).
  5. Once you access the system and create your permanent password, you can start the registration process for the “Intelligence in the Security Environment” class.
  6. Once you are registered, you can access all of the course material through Massey University’s distance learning system called “Stream.”

Shannon says, “I highly encourage students to apply for programs like this. My traditional study abroad trip was expensive and rewarding; this program costs the same amount as a class at UNG and it is as rewarding as my other study abroad trips.”

Maria says that “this experience will look great on your resume for when you are applying for jobs and graduate school.” You can contact Maria directly at if you have any questions.

To learn more about the students’ experiences with the Massey University Exchange Program, go HERE.

Got Questions?

Contact: Julie Saunders, Administrative Assistant IV


Phone: 706-864-1628


Editor’s Note

While the Massey University virtual experience is strongly supported by the PSIA Department it is not seen as a substitute for required international experiences in both the International Affairs degree and Strategic and Security Studies degree which are both housed in the department.