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Santa Fe, New Mexico

Director Fall 2018:  Professor Sarah Wider
Departments of English, Native American Studies, and Women's Studies

Students in the Santa Fe American Study GroupDeeply rooted in learning that is lived, the Santa Fe study group combines community-based learning, classroom discussion, and frequent field trips.  The semester focuses on both the long history of native peoples in the American Southwest, and the con- temporary issues facing Pueblo, Navajo and Apache peoples today. Interdisciplinary in nature, the courses complement many majors.  Students in the past have majored in English, Education, Sociology, Anthropology, Religion, Biology, Women’s Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies, as well as Native American Studies. Given the nature of the courses and the rich resources of the Santa Fe area, it is an excellent program for students interested in environmental studies (including environmental injustice, alternative energy, water management, biodiversity), public health, education, creative writing, art, anthropology and archaeology.

Community-based learning is the heart of this program.  Students engage squarely in Indian Country, making the program actually a term abroad despite being located in the United States.  Depending upon their interests and concentrations, students are placed at Tesuque or Cochiti Pueblo, where they assist in programs such as early childhood education, elementary education, health, environmental management, sustainable farming, eldercare, or law. Alternatively, some students may be placed at the Santa Fe Indian School if their interest is in secondary education. The service learning projects earn a half course credit, making this a 4 1/2 credit program.  

Over the years, student responses to this semester-long study group indicate that it has often been a life-changing experience.  Students report that they have developed new ways of thinking, formed life-long relationships, and discovered or confirmed career paths.  

Located in the beautiful mountainous region of northern New Mexico, Santa Fe has long been a crossroad of cultures. Originally the home of Tesuque Pueblo, it is now the New Mexico State capital. Given its long history of resistance (the first American Revolution began here with the 1680 Pueblo Revolt), Santa Fe continues to be an active area for social justice movements, many of which overlap with the arts. Known for its international art markets in Native, Hispanic, and contemporary arts, it is a city with a vibrant performance culture. In a welcome relief to upstate New York weather, Santa Fe boasts nearly 300 sunny days a year and comfortable daily temperatures.


As an interdisciplinary study group, our courses count toward many different concentrations—for example, ENGL, ENST, EDUC, SOAN, and WMST. Consult with the director. Courses meet MW. Students are involved in service learning at the pueblos TTh. Courses are augmented by single and multiple day field trips. There are no classes on Fridays.Class walks along a red rock face. 

NAST 302: Contemporary Issues in Native American Studies Taught by Dr. Joseph Suina, Professor emeritus, College of Education, University of New Mexico, and Tribal Councilman, Cochiti Pueblo. This course focuses on various issues facing Native American communities today. Areas explored in the course include cultural expression, sovereignty, environmental and sacred-site protection, education, language shift, healthcare systems, economic development, among others. While these issues will be considered in the context of Native communities throughout the Americas, particular attention will be given to Pueblo, Navajo and Southern Ute.

NAST 302L: Service Learning in the Native American Southwest. Taught by Sarah Wider, Professor of English and Women’s Studies. In this half-credit course, students engage in experiential learning two days per week at Cochiti or Tesuque Pueblo or at the Santa Fe Indian School according to their own interests and the Pueblo needs and desires for assistance.  Community learning opportunities have included projects in sustainable farming, land and animal management, law, health and wellness, elder care, and education from pre-school through high school.  Students also meet as a seminar to discuss their projects in the context of contemporary issues facing southwest native peoples.

ENGL 336Y: Native American Literature. Taught by Prof. Wider. This course focuses on Pueblo and Navajo writers. Particular attention will be given to biography and autobiography. We’ll consider the various literary and cultural traditions upon which these writers draw.  What part does an oral tradition play in creating a written work? Can one be translated into the other? How do types of life-writing, like ethnographies, affect the way contemporary authors choose to represent a life’s stories? We’ll read works by Leslie Marmon Silko, Simon Ortiz, Evelina Zuni Lucero, Luci Tapahonso, Orlando White, Laura Tohe, and will take advantage of poetry readings in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Taos. This course meets the Global Engagements requirement.

NAST 301: Native American Women. Taught by Prof. Wider. Focusing on Native Women’s Health, this course draws upon the wealth of experts in the Santa Fe area.  Each week students will meet with women who work in different facets of healthcare from pre-natal to eldercare. We’ll meet with those who work in the clinics at the Pueblos, with the Community Health Representatives, with representatives from Tewa Women United, and specialists in diabetes management. Issues to be addressed include Native food sovereignty, exercise and sports programs, reproductive healthcare, stress-related diseases, violence against women and its intersection with environmental injustice.

ANTH 359: Archaeology and Ethnology of Southwestern Indians. Taught by Dr. Eric Blinman, Director, Office of Archaeological Studies, Museum of New Mexico. Lectures, readings, field trips, and discussions highlight the deep time depth and diversity of the traditional cultures of the Southwest. Topics include environments and traditional technologies that underlie the transition from Paleoindian big game hunters to Puebloan farmers over the past 10,000+ years. The final segment of the course will review the dramatic changes of the past 400 years of cultural contact and conflict during the Spanish, Mexican, and American periods in the northern Southwest.

Prominent red rock outcropping

Field Trips

Field trips will include visits to pueblos, reservations, and archaeological sites. These trips will be of two types: one and two-day outings to nearby places, such as Taos and Acoma pueblos, the Salinas area pueblos, Abiquiu, and Chaco Culture National Historical Park; and an extended seven-day camping trip to the Four Corners Area of the Colorado Plateau, which involves visits to Mesa Verde National Park, Canyon de Chelly, Hopi Pueblo, and Zuni.

Extracurricular Opportunities

Fall in the Santa Fe area is particularly good for hiking, fishing, camping, skiing, rafting, rock climbing, horseback riding, Hispanic cuisine, and museums, as well as theater, musical performances, and art shows. Students may wish to travel to Santa Fe early for Indian Market in mid-August, or for the Corn Dances at Santa Clara and Zia Pueblos.

Students look out over a canyonLiving Arrangements

All students will live in fully furnished apartments at Fort Marcy Residential Suites in Santa Fe. Parking is free. Fort Marcy Suites are located a five-minute walk to the historic center of Santa Fe.

Prerequisites and Selection Criteria

There are no prerequisite courses.  However, in spring 2018, all accepted students will take a ¼-credit course, NAST 300, Continuity and Change in Pueblo Communities (taught by C.A.Lorenz).  This course provides an introduction to the pueblos and enables students to begin planning their service learning projects.


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see Student Cost Estimate Sheet on the Off Campus Study/International Programs website.

Calendar and Deadlines

All students interested in applying should plan on attending one of the informational sessions. The deadline for applications for the fall 2018 Santa Fe Native American Study Group is Wednesday, November 15, 2017. Applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study/International Programs’ website and are submitted online. Acceptance decisions will be sent by December 2017.

Program Dates

August 25, 2018 - December 15, 2018

Informational Sessions

Thursday, October 19 at 4:15pm and

Wednesday, October 25 at 4:15pm

Both sessions will be held in the 212 Lathrop Hall.

All students interested in applying should plan on attending one of these sessions.

More Information

For more information, contact Carol Ann Lorenz at or Sarah Wider at

Helpful Links

Sponsoring Departments

General Information

Course-related Material

The American Indian Quarterly