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Geneva Study Group

Director Spring 2020: Valerie Morkevicius, Department of Political Science

History of the Geneva Study Group

In 1979, the Geneva Study Group was offered to students in all concentrations to engage in advanced study of international and European governmental organizations; European politics, cultural and history; and international and pan-European law and courts. It was directed by Professor Roland Blum.


The Colgate University Geneva Study Group (GSG) allows students to explore international and European governmental and nongovernmental organizations; European politics, culture, history, and thought; and international and pan-European law and courts. The program is open to students from any department. However, concentrators in Political Science, International Relations, Peace & Conflict Studies, and History will find it especially relevant.

Students take a three-week intensive French course that begins in late January. In mid-February, students start two semester-long courses and begin a fourteen-week part-time internship in an international governmental or nongovernmental organization (IGO or INGO) in Geneva, Switzerland. The semester includes two group field trips to destinations in western and central Europe.


POSC 357Y: International Institutions (Prof. Morkevicius). In this course, students explore the theoretical literature on international governmental and nongovernmental organizations and visit some of the world’s premier IGOs and INGOs including the World Trade Organization, Doctors without Borders, and various United Nations agencies. This course will offer students the theoretical and conceptual tools to understand the work of these institutions and the international political constraints they face.  This course is eligible for GE credit.

Elective course. Students choose an elective course offered to Colgate undergraduates by The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies / Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID), a world-renowned academic institution in Geneva. Students choose one course among three or four course offerings, all fitting the general study group theme of international organization.

Internship course. In mid-February, students begin a semester-long part-time internships in international governmental and nongovernmental organizations located in Geneva. With guidance from Prof. Morkevicius and in collaboration with an onsite internship coordinator, students seek internships based on each their particular interests. Work in these organizations complements the director’s course 9POSC 357) and the focus of group travel undertaken during the semester. Discussion of the internship experience and short writing assignments will be required for completion of this course. Political Science and IR concentrators will receive elective credit for this course.

FREN 122Y, FREN 200, FREN 300. To help students navigate life, work, and culture in French-speaking Geneva, they will take an intensive French course at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) that corresponds to their level of competence in French. Students will receive Colgate credit at the appropriate level, with two important conditions: 1) students may not receive Colgate credit toward the French major or minor, and 2) IR concentrators who have selected French as their language must complete both 300-level courses on the Colgate campus.

Field Trips

Group photo by the sea

The study group includes two group trips to complement and build upon the coursework and internships undertaken in Geneva. The first trip takes students to Berlin, Krakow and Auschwitz, Vienna, and Vilnius, emphasizing culturally significant sites as well as international institutions like OPEC and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The second trip takes students to Brussels, The Hague, Luxembourg, and Strasbourg to visit major international and European institutions including the European Parliament, the International Criminal Court, and NATO. Additional group excursions include visits international organizations in and around Geneva.

Because Geneva sits in the very heart of Europe, students will also have an excellent opportunity for independent travel. Such independent travel is elective and must always defer to formal study group activities (i.e., classes, internships, and Geneva site visits).

Library Facilities

Students will have access and borrowing privileges at the libraries of the Graduate Institute and other universities in Geneva. Access can also be arranged to the various libraries housed in Geneva’s international organizations, and the United Nations Library collection containing nearly two million volumes.

Housing and Local Transportation

Students reside in single rooms at the Cité Universitaire, a residential complex in the Champel section of Geneva with laundry and athletic facilities as well as a cafeteria. Each room contains a bed, bookshelves, a desk, a sink, and a closet. Shared bathrooms are situated along the corridor. Students prepare their own meals in the shared kitchen on each floor. Rooms come with a Geneva transportation card that grants unlimited use of bus and tram services. Students typically take a bus and tram to reach the Graduate Institute and their internship providers, a 40-minute trip.

After Geneva

The Geneva Study Group will end in June 2020, but there will be opportunities for students to reconnect with Geneva after they complete their senior year at Colgate. Some interested study group alums might have the opportunity to return to their internship organization for a full-time job. Others can follow in the footsteps of previous study group participants who returned to the Graduate Institute for a Master’s Degree.

Interested students could apply for the joint BA/MA degree with the Graduate Institute, wherein students take courses on the study group, and then back at Colgate, that would count toward the first year of a Master’s Degree—with students returning to the Graduate Institute after Colgate graduation for one more of year of study to complete the MA program. Contact Prof. Ed Fogarty (efogarty@colgate.edu) for additional details.

Selection Criteria and Prerequisites

Students with their baggage posing by a statue

It is expected that most applicants will be sophomores in the fall of 2018. Juniors are also invited to apply—particularly those interested in the BA/MA program opportunity—but the group’s schedule will likely preclude participation in graduation ceremonies in May 2020. Students from any department are welcome to apply.

NB: Acceptance to the study group is provisional. Students must remain in good academic and disciplinary standing at Colgate prior to departure for Geneva.

Pre-departure required courses

Students accepted to the study group must complete POSC 232 and, at minimum, FREN 121 before the start of the study group. Courses in modern European politics and history are highly recommended, and ECON 151 or 249 might also prove useful.

All accepted students will also be required to enroll in a half-credit internship preparation course during the semester prior to departure (fall 2019). This course will impart skills and knowledge of greatest interest to potential Geneva-based internship organizations, including mastery of standard word processing and accounting programs (i.e., MS Word and Excel), formal writing, and familiarity with “international Geneva.”


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see Student Cost Estimate Sheets.

Calendar and Deadlines

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

The study group application will open on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, and will close on Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Applications are on the Colgate University Off-Campus Study website and are submitted online at offcampusstudy.colgate.edu. After submitting your application, please be sure to sign up in the Political Science department office (Persson 126) for an interview time. Prof. Morkevicius will set the interview schedule, and will notify applicants of selection decisions in late December 2018.

Passports and Visas

You must confirm that your passport is valid through December 2020. All students participating on the Geneva Study Group will be required to obtain a Swiss student visa. With participation on this study group comes the responsibility of understanding and complying with Swiss government visa requirements. If you will not be traveling on a U.S. passport it is imperative that you contact an adviser in Off-Campus Study and International Student Services, 101 McGregory, to learn as much as you can about the regulations. For some students there are significant visa requirements to be met that take time, advance planning, and incur extra costs.

Program Dates

Anticipated Geneva Study Group program dates: Early January to mid-June, 2020

Informational Session

Monday, October 15 at 4:15 p.m. in 108 Persson Hall