Most students don’t participate in study abroad courses during their freshman year, but a University Honors course aims to impact that. Last fall, the college’s Dr. Tamara Davis was selected to serve as a faculty member in Ohio State’s Freshman London Honors Study Abroad course, a collaboration between the University Honors & Scholars Center and Office of International Affairs. A key purpose of the course: to engage students in study abroad as early as possible during their college education.
Prior to students’ arrival at Ohio State, incoming University Honors and Scholars freshmen are invited to apply for admission to this course. This particular study abroad is an excellent opportunity for students who have never previously traveled abroad to become more comfortable traveling outside of the United States while experiencing a little independence with a safety net.
Each year, four faculty and four staff are invited to teach the class and serve as resident directors for the 100-member class. The class meets weekly during autumn and culminates with a nine-day study abroad to London, one of the world’s most international cities. The London Honors course offers an introduction to British life and culture, with students attending lectures on topics specific to London and England. Faculty teaching the course bring their individual areas of interest and scholarship to their respective lectures and class sections.
Dr. Davis’ class section focused on diversity, multiculturalism, and social change in London/England while tying the discussion to England’s experience of [im]migration. Students considered current and relevant issues in England and the United States and were challenged to explore their own cultural identities and perceptions of diversity. To bring their study of London’s immigration patterns and social change to life, students participated in a walking tour of East London to include Brick Lane, Whitechapel, and the Museum of Immigration.
“My London Honors study abroad with freshmen and my colleagues from across the university was a tremendous experience,” says Davis. “Naturally, I hope that exposure to some of the social issues we examined during the course will peak the interests of students and lead a few of them to consider Social Work as a career path.”
Students also learned about British history, notable scientists, literature, physics, linguistics, and engineering, To complement their classroom learning, they visited numerous sites relevant to the culture and history of England during the in-country portion of the course.
For instance, a ferry ride to Greenwich included a visit to the Royal Observatory Astronomy Centre and afternoon tea. Day trips to Stonehenge, Bath, and Hampton Court Palace allowed students to observe magnificent historical architecture, artifacts, and key points of interest. A trip to Oxford and walking tour of the University inspired some to consider future study at the prestigious University.
Students also enjoyed a little fun in their cultural learning through experiencing British sport (they attended a Futbol match) and theatre performances. And, of course, learning about British culture would not have been complete without visits to the British Museum, Museum of London, Tower of London, and Westminster Abbey. A packed agenda kept everyone hopping from morning till night, with everyone becoming quite adept at navigating the “Tube” to travel around London.
But for Davis, this is just the beginning.
“I am thrilled and honored to have been asked to serve as the lead faculty for the London Honors course in autumn 2012,” adds Davis. “Leading this course is exciting for me personally and further contributes to our involvement as a college in engaging some of Ohio State’s brightest undergraduate students in international study.”