APSU’s new signature study abroad program sending students to live in Victorian manor outside of London
(Posted Oct. 23, 2019)
If you take the train an hour north from London to the town of Grantham, where Sir Isaac Newton once studied, you’ll discover an ornate Victorian estate hidden deep in the countryside that’s often compared to fictional places like Downton Abbey and Hogwarts. This is Harlaxton Manor, a house surrounded by lush gardens and green lawns so wide that the Royal Air Force landed bombers on the property during World War II.
For the last 48 years, the University of Evansville has used the manor for its top-rated study abroad program, and in the early 1990s, Dr. Marissa Chandler spent a year as a college student living in the opulent country home.
“It was a dream come true,” Chandler, now director of study abroad and international exchange at Austin Peay State University, said. “It’s owned by the University of Evansville, and I was able to study there and have an amazing experience.”
Chandler’s time at Harlaxton transformed her life, turning her into a world traveler whose passport is filled with stamps from places like Tokyo, Paris and the Galapagos Islands. A few years ago, while feeling nostalgic for her days at Harlaxton, Chandler began work on a partnership between Austin Peay and Evansville. Next summer, that partnership will come to fruition when Austin Peay unveils its new signature study abroad program – APSU’s British DEAL (Discovery, Exploration, Adventure, Learning) – which will send students to live in Harlaxton Manor for a week, followed by a week in London.
“We’re very happy to be partnering with the No. 1 program in the country,” Dr. Mickey Wadia, APSU professor of languages and literature, said. Evansville’s Harlaxton program was recently named the best study abroad program by Best College Reviews. “Harlaxton is a Victorian manor home but it resembles a castle in many ways. It’s absolutely exquisite on the inside. I mean, who has classes for God’s sake in a Victorian manor.”
Get them early in their academic career
Austin Peay will begin its signature program next May by offering two classes at Harlaxton – a world literature class taught by Wadia, and a global business class taught by Dr. Victoria McCarthy, chair of the Department of Management, Marketing and General Business. Part of what makes the program unique is that the world literature class is a general education core course that most students take within their first two years, regardless of their major.
“A lot of students get into their academic career and they really have a lot of class and coursework obligations, so they can’t really find room or time to do a study abroad program,” Dr. Tim Hudson, executive director of the APSU Center for Extended and International Education, said. “The idea is to get them early in their academic career so any student majoring in anything can take Dr. Wadia’s literature course and have the advantage of this program.”
The University has offered study abroad courses for decades, sending students to South America, Asia and Europe for different educational experiences. The APSU British DEAL program is different because it creates, for one week every summer, a satellite Austin Peay campus at an English country manor, followed by a week in London.
“We’ll be going to the same site from year-to-year, and over time we want to offer three or four general education courses in subjects like art and communication,” Hudson said. “There’s a lot of research that says if we can get students involved early in their academic career in a study abroad program, it opens their eyes and this experience reverberates through their entire learning experience, rather than having it as a capstone when they’re on the way out the door.”
The learning never stops
While in Harlaxton, the students will visit sites such as the Triumph Motorcycle factory and Leicester Cathedral, where Richard III’s recently discovered remains were reburied. The next week in London, where the program will relocate to the Royal National Hotel, Wadia’s students will visit literary sites like the Bloomsbury district and Shakespeare’s Globe theater on London’s Bankside, as well as a field trip to the Bard’s picturesque hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. McCarthy’s upper-level students will tour the Bank of England Museum and possibly visit the London School of Economics and Political Science.
“We’ve set it up as a global business class, which can be a required course or an elective, and we’re going to be pushing students outside the classroom, outside the textbook,” McCarthy said.
“The learning never stops on a study abroad,” Wadia added. “It never actually stops because of the location – we’re in a different venue, a different culture. We’re always pointing out something of value, even just walking down the street. I’ll often stop the class and give a mini-lecture, a pop-up lecture. ‘Stop right there, I want you to see something on this building.’”
To ensure all interested students can take advantage of this trip – which includes a direct flight from Nashville to London – all participants will receive a $500 study abroad travel grant. The students taking world literature will receive a $500 general education core scholarship from the Center of Extended and International Education, and the College of Business is awarding students enrolled in the global business class with a $1,000 scholarship.
“And there’s lots of other funding sources available for students,” Chandler said.
For information on Austin Peay’s new British DEAL program, visit https://apsu-sa.terradotta.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=39298.
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