MEDIA, Pa. — In November, a group of students from Penn State Brandywine, Abington and World Campus made the most of their Thanksgiving break with a trip to Liverpool and London, England. The trip was organized by Penn State Brandywine Global Programs.
Global Programs uses distance education courses with short-term travel components to make global travel possible for students across the Penn State system. For the trip to Liverpool and London, students could enroll in two courses: Introduction to Art, led by Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Integrative Arts Paul Greene, and British Roots in American Culture, led by Assistant Teaching Professor of English Pat Hillen.
“Before our trip to England, we had each of the students design a research project to conduct while overseas,” said Hillen. “We encourage them to investigate a subject intellectually while gaining a cultural experience.”
Students on the trip completed research projects focusing on a wide variety of subjects, including architecture, the writings of Daniel Defoe, art and makeup, and gang culture. Both classes also completed reflection papers about the Beatles as fixtures of art history and pop culture.
“The two classes gave students a lot of room to find a research project pertinent to their majors, hobbies or interests,” Hillen said.
When students were not working on their projects, they saw iconic sites around the cities, including Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Buckingham Palace and London Bridge. They also were given time to explore the cities and meet graduate students at John Moore University in Liverpool.
“After a lecture about the Beatles at John Moore, the grad students took us out for a traditional English tea with sweets,” said Hillen. “That was a highlight — sharing experiences with them, talking about politics and music over delicious food.”
According to Hillen, who has been to London several times, Brandywine Global Programs hopes to establish longer study abroad opportunities in England in the future. However, for the time being, she still sees significant value in the short-term travel model.
“Short embedded programs offer so much cultural experience to students who have never traveled abroad before,” she said. “You truly see a transformation in the students who go.”
Brandywine Global Programs has planned two other trips for the 2017-18 school year: Sicily and Malta in spring 2018 and an extended trip to South Korea in summer 2018. For more information, visit the Global Programs webpage.