Sept. 17-30, 2004
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IN THIS ISSUE
A New Formula for Higher Education
Alumnus Trice assists diversity commission
Medical Center budget healthy, operating board told
Digest
Civil engineering professor drives for safer highways
U.Va. in London
Symphony celebrates 30th anniversary
Bob Woodward to lecture about Iraq war motives
Engineer envisions vehicles of the future

 

U.Va. in London
Shannon Carnohan and Nathan Baker
Photo by Jane Ford
Shannon Carnohan and Nathan Baker gained confidence as students and adults during their semester in London.
Here the two pause for a moment at Bedford Square.

By Jane Ford

London — Whether it was visiting the Lakes District where Wordsworth wrote or touring World War II sites in London, “to go on walks and actually see where events happened was amazing,” said U.Va. student Shannon Carnohan of her study-abroad experience.

The decision to leave Charlottesville and travel to London for a semester was a big move for both she and fellow student Nathan Baker.

“I needed an experience outside Charlottesville,” said Baker, an English major and Charlottesville native who ha always wanted to attend U.Va. In London, he said, he “lost that safety net of having my family nearby.”

Carnohan, a history and foreign affairs major from Fredericksburg, now said she feels “confident” that she could be “far away from home and still be happy and comfortable and … form new bonds and [make] new friends.”

Both students wanted a study-abroad program taught in English. They were attracted by the wide variety of courses offered through the U.Va. in London program — courses that include biology, chemistry, business, economics, theater, English literature, politics, philosophy, art and architecture history, among others.

Sarah Adams, a U.Va. sports medicine major, said she chose the program because she could take a pre-med physics class and lab, required courses for her major.

Tahirah Gooden, a media studies major at U.Va. and an international student from Jamaica, chose the program because she had heard positive stories about London from her parents, who had once studied there. Additionally, the British Media and Society course being offered — and her hopes of getting a summer internship at the BBC — made the program especially appealing.

Since fall 2002, the U.Va. in London program has been formally affiliated with the New York University London Center. All courses are U.Va.-approved, and the grades students earn there transfer directly and are factored into their grade-point averages.

The classes are taught by faculty from NYU, the London School of Economics, University College London, King’s College London and U.Va., and are held at the NYU London Center on Bedford Square. The neighborhood is home to the University of London, the British Museum, the Royal Institute of Philosophy, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Royal British Institute of Architecture, among others. Students have easy access to the public events hosted by these groups and the history and cultural offerings of the city.

“The location of the London facilities is fantastic,” said Herbert “Chip” Tucker, the John C. Coleman Professor of English at U.Va. and an expert on 19th-century literature, who taught in the program in fall 2002.

“There’s a huge difference between London and Charlottesville,” Tucker said. That difference allowed him to modify his courses to take advantage of his location abroad.

For students to read Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House” and visit the sites of nearby legal London is something Tucker cannot provide in his Charlottesville classroom, he said.

Beyond enriching the educational experience for students, working in London gave U.Va. faculty access to a wealth of institutions for their own scholarship.

When he wasn’t teaching, Tucker spent his days in the British Library, where his efforts were rewarded by the discovery of “some pretty obscure poems” for his ongoing research on the Victorian poets, he said.

Similar to Tucker, Alon Confino, an associate professor of history at U.Va. whose teaching and scholarship focuses on modern Germany, praised the ability to broaden and extend his classes into the city of London. While taking his courses — German History in the 20th Century, which highlighted the relationship between Germany and England, and Remembering the Second World War: 1945 to the Present — Confino’s students had access to relevant museums, commemorative sites and monuments. “International experiences are always good for students,” Confino said. “They [let students] see how people do things differently, how they organize their society and politics.”

Carnohan praised the History of London class she took last spring for integrating the subject matter with the city. That class, along with a mandatory class in British popular culture and one on the Atlantic slave trade, gave Carnohan a better grasp of British culture, she said.

Baker also benefited from a uniquely London educational experience. With his Modern British Stage class, London’s theaters served as his classroom two to three times a week. He saw plays ranging from small productions to performances at the National Theater. Not only did he and his classmates discuss the plays in the classroom, but they learned about the business of the theater and the British government’s active role in supporting the arts.

“The best way to talk and learn about the theater is to go to the theater,” said Betsy Tucker, U.Va. assistant professor of acting and directing, who taught in the London program in fall 2002 and used her spare time there to search out experimental works and pub-theater.

“A lot of new work is developed there today in the back rooms and upstairs of pubs,” she said.


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