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Honors students bring their classroom to London during OSU Summer Session

Four students stand with The Shard and other London buildings and skyscrapers in the background.

Taken from the top of St Paul’s Cathedral, this photo features The Shard in the background. From left to right: Emma Gottfried, Cory Brown, Isabella Karabinas and Kyle Corbett.

By Heather Doherty  
November 30, 2016

Imagine studying Geoffrey Chaucer, who is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and is known as the “Father of English Literature.” Now imagine putting yourself into one of his stories, literally walking the same steps as his characters did centuries ago.

This past summer, a group of Oregon State Honors College students did just that – and much more – during a faculty-led study abroad trip to London, England.

More than 20 students received a once-in-a-lifetime experience traveling around London with Oregon State faculty members, visiting museums, a medieval cathedral, historic sites and other significant locations to learn about the city’s rich past from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Six honors students pose on a marble staircase at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Honors students pose at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, known as the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. Pictured above: top row from left to right is Jack Gooding, Anna-Liisa Sepp, Jane Myrick and Steven Morris. Bottom row from left to right is Cory Brown, Amira Smith.

“I really liked that we were able to learn things in a classroom and then actually go see the places or objects that we were talking about in class,” says Cory Brown, who is studying electrical and computer engineering with minors in business and entrepreneurship, and computer science. “I think that is a really unique experience for learning that is not offered to the same degree in normal classes.”

Activities were designed to correspond closely to the courses and included excursions to the London Eye Ferris wheel and the British Library. Students were able to see the Sutton Hoo ship burial exhibit at the British Museum and learn more about Isaac Newton’s discoveries in optics at Trinity College, Cambridge.

The goal of the trip, says OSU Honors College Associate Dean Tara Williams, was to offer students a unique honors experience during which they connect with faculty, build community with other students and learn about topics, such as Newton or early modern English literature, that have strong and specific ties to the city of London and its resources.

“It is important for students to have a deeper and richer sense of the world and to broaden their perspectives and increase their sense of what is possible for the future,” Tara says.

“I really liked that we were able to learn things in a classroom and then actually go see the places or objects that we were talking about in class.”

Classes abroad were taught by faculty members in the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Science and Engineering, and featured an honors baccalaureate course and honors colloquia.

The trip is open to all current and incoming Honors College students and is offered through OSU Summer Session.

“For continuing honors students, it is much easier to fit a study abroad program into their schedules during the summer,” Tara says. “For incoming students, this summer program offered the opportunity to connect with other students and faculty before beginning their first fall term.”

Ian Paul, a first-year electrical and computer engineering student, is a prime example.

“I was motivated to sign up for this trip because it seemed like a great opportunity to travel, get 6 credits in a short time and to make friends before college,” Ian says. “I loved the small classes and ability to get to know my professors on a personal level.”

Due to its success, the Honors College plans on continuing this trip in the future through OSU Summer Session. Specific courses offered each year will vary, but students will always have the opportunity to learn about London from an interdisciplinary perspective through experiential, hands-on activities.

“When I discovered that the Honors College was offering this trip, I was extremely excited because it fit perfectly with all of my needs,” Cory says. “It was a short trip that I could fit into my summer schedule while still being able to work for most of the summer; it filled the remaining honors colloquia credits I needed; the classes sounded interesting; I had always wanted to visit London; and I would get the chance to meet more students and faculty from the Honors College.

“I most definitely recommend this trip to other students.”

While this trip is designed for Honors College students, there are many other faculty-led study abroad excursions offered through OSU Summer Session that are open to all OSU students. Find out how you can explore the world while earning OSU credits on a once-in-a-lifetime study abroad trip.

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