Imagine studying Geoffrey Chaucer, widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and often called the “Father of English Literature.” Now imagine inhabiting one of his stories, walking the same footsteps that his characters did centuries ago.
Last August, more than 20 students traveled 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.
“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 studies electrical and computer engineering with minors in business and entrepreneurship and computer science. “I think this is a really unique experience for learning that’s not offered to the same degree in regular classes.”
In 2017, the Honors College is offering three global learning opportunities in the summer—a study abroad program in France and a service learning experience in Vietnam, in addition to the trip to England.
Study abroad activities are designed to correspond closely to the courses offered on each trip. Last year in London, students took part in three HC colloquia, which included a survey of early British literature and a course on Sir Isaac Newton’s life and contributions to science. Activities 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 Newton’s discoveries in optics at Trinity College, Cambridge.
Students who study abroad in England in 2017 will travel to London and take a baccalaureate core course, Studies in Scientific Controversy, as well as two HC colloquia courses, London, Sugar and Slavery and London’s Icons: How Objects and Discoveries Define a City. Students enrolled in the Honors College France Experience will visit Paris and Lyon and take two colloquia that examine France’s arts and culinary cultures.
Students participating in the trip to Vietnam will travel to Thái Bình in the southeast part of the country, where the class will partner with Habitat for Humanity to complete a service project. During the 2016-2017 academic year, students can take a series of classes called Building Homes and Hope that prepare them for the experience.
Honors College Associate Dean Tara Williams stresses the breadth of opportunities offered in these faculty-led trips. According to Williams, HC study abroad programs provides a unique honors experience in which students 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 each program’s destination and its resources.
“It’s 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,” Williams said.
“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.” –Cory Brown
In its initial run, faculty members from the Colleges of Science, Engineering and Liberal Arts participated in the London study-abroad program. This summer, a similarly interdisciplinary team will provide students with a variety of perspectives.
One of the co-leaders of the trip is Jacob Hamblin, a professor in the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion. He will teach Studies in Scientific Controversy as a part of the program. According to Hamblin, studying abroad through the HC offers many rewards for students.
“There are many ‘life’-related reasons to study abroad, from broadening our cultural horizons to simply gaining first-hand knowledge about the world,” Hamblin said. “But in a practical vein, the Honors College has gone out of its way to ensure that the summer programs include a course that satisfies one of the university Baccalaureate Core requirements, as well as HC colloquia. So, in addition to having a memorable experience, students will be making genuine progress toward their degree.”
The program in England is offered to both incoming and returning Honors College students, creating an opportunity for first-year students to join the HC community before they arrive on campus in September.
“When I discovered that the Honors College was offering this trip, I was extremely excited because it fit perfectly with all of my needs,” says Cory Brown, an electrical and computer engineering major. “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.”
The ability to study a subject in-depth is what led Hamblin to create his course for this summer’s trip to England. “London is the ideal place to engage in scientific controversies, especially for students who thrive in place-based and experiential learning environments. In the class we’ll dig deeply into the ways that science touches our lives in uncomfortable ways, including religion, war, sexuality, and politics,” he said. “Because we have opportunities to visit the former homes of Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud and the many exhibits at London’s fantastic museums, these past clashes will really come alive.”