Centre-in-London students create travel guide
for future Centre travelers
RELEASED: April 26, 2007
[Editor's Note: Dr. Milton Reigelman, director of Centre's international studies programs, in collaboration with Todd Foreman, wrote this feature.]
DANVILLE, KY—Some American college students studying in London never really leave the States. Just as on their home campuses, they eat meals in a cafeteria, live in a facility only with their fellow students, visit the same tourist sights that American tourists visit and take classes they could've taken on their home campuses.
Not so with students in the Centre-in-London program. They shop in London markets and buy and prepare all of their own food. They live in a large block of flats in Bloomsbury with a variety of British and international people. And they make extensive use of London as their ideal classroom.
The students in the British Politics class this spring completed two major projects. For the second project, each student studied one of the hundreds of British political advocacy groups, some even taking part in demonstrations.
This is the students' first project, though, that may be of great use to future Centre-in-London students and others interested in British politics. The students wrote a 131-page "London Political Travel Guide" for visitors interested in going well beyond the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and Madame Tussauds.
The professor of the British Politics course, Todd Foreman, adjunct professor of government, who now holds both United States and British citizenship, has a rare double vision. He grew up in Danville and attended Grinnell College in Iowa. He spent a year as a prestigious Watson Fellow studying the Labour Parties in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. He spent his third year as a student at the University of Pennsylvania Law School at the London School of Economics. He has a master's degree in banking and finance law from the University of London and has been a practicing lawyer in London for the past six years.
He wrote in the travel guide's forward: "All of the stereotypical English constituencies can be found [in London]: wealthy Conservative areas like Kensington & Chelsea; Labour strongholds in deprived inner-city areas like Vauxhall or Hackey South & Shoreditch; gentrified areas like Islington South & Finsbury where Labour and Liberal-Democrats battle over the Guardian-reading middle-class voters, and Labour-Conservative marginals like Battersea or Hammersmith & Fulham that are the focus of intense competition in general elections and determine who will actually govern the country."
Teams of two students were assigned two of a total of 18 London constituencies that span the political and social spectrum. The students spent time in the area; spoke with residents; did research, analyzed the demographics, political behavior, political history and local issues of importance; and finally predicted the outcome of the upcoming general election in their constituencies.
Beyond the political portrait, the students gave their own impressions of attractions, restaurants, bars and shopping in the constituency.
Natalie Frost '08 and Rachel East '08 predicted that in the artsy, affluent Hampstead & Highgate constituency, the Liberal-Democrats may overtake Labour in the next election, "especially if rumors that feisty Glenda Jackson [the Oscar-winning actress turned M.P.] will retire turn out to be true."
About their other constituency, Brent East, they noted that the police recently seized 1.4 million pounds of counterfeit goods at the Wembley Market there. "But if you're gullible enough to believe that poly-blend scarf sold on the street is actually Burberry, you have other problems to worry about. Note: bring hand sanitizer and don't be shy. It's okay to negotiate!"
In analyzing the constituency of Wimbledon, Brandon Gish '08 and John Templeton '08 predicted that the Tories would hold the seat and increase the percentage of their vote. In their other constituency, Holborn and St. Pancras, they wrote that the current M.P.'s "liking of dirty jokes and conviviality won him many friends despite his partisanship," but that the Liberal-Democrats "have a good shot at overtaking Labour in the next election."
Students in the British Politics class are enthusiastic partly because much of their learning is "on the streets," as one student said, rather than from sitting in a library or looking at a computer.
Foreman said, "I fell in love with London the first time I lived here as a student, in large part because I had an internship with a British political party. With both the political travel guide and the pressure-group projects, I wanted the students to use London as their primary resource. I see little point in studying abroad if you're going to write papers that you could have written back in Danville! The travel guide also forced the students to go a bit off the beaten path to some lesser-known parts of London that are well worth a visit. I'm pleased with how well the students got into the spirit of both projects."
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