London study abroad program celebrates 20th anniversary


INDIANOLA, Iowa — Fall 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the Simpson Experience Abroad program in London, which will be led by Mark Green, professor of economics. In fall 1997, he led the first Simpson program to London, accompanied by 19 students.

Jessica (Powers) DuBlois, a 1999 Simpson alumna, was among those participating in the inaugural year of the program.

“It was the best last-minute decision I ever made,” DuBlois said. “Those three months were the time of my life with some fantastic people. I have lifelong memories and friendships that I made while meandering around Europe. I encourage anyone who will listen to travel as much and as often as possible, especially while in college where responsibilities are less.”

One thing that especially stood out for DuBlois was a weekend spent skiing in Switzerland.

“It was so pretty there.” she said.

The London semester is scheduled in the fall semester of odd-numbered years.

The director position rotates among Simpson’s various departments and divisions.

Most recently, Judy Walden, Brian Steffen and Rebecca Livingstone led the program.

Simpson partners with the University of Roehampton, a campus in southwest London with central London easily accessible via bus and Tube, as is Heathrow Airport.

Simpson students live in single rooms at Roehampton with other international students.

London program participants shop for their own food and prepare meals in a communal kitchen. Roehampton’s $100 million campus improvement project, including a new state-of-the-art library and new student residences, will be completed by the time Simpson students arrive next fall.

The Barnes neighborhood that is near the campus is full of shops, bakeries and restaurants.

Wembley Stadium, where National Football League International Series games are played each fall, is 10 miles from campus. The London Wetlands Centre is a short bus ride away.

“Students who take part in the London semester become residents of the Roehampton campus and neighborhood,” Steffen said. “While most British universities are set in drab office towers, the Roehampton campus is leafy and walkable, and just a few minutes by bus from the District Line tube trains that will take students into the center of the city.”

Simpson students may elect to take one or two classes from the Roehampton curriculum. They round out their schedules with two courses taught by the Simpson program director. One is a study abroad reflection course for which students earn the global perspectives designation within the areas of engagement.

The second course is from the director’s teaching discipline, but has no prerequisites and is not restricted to departmental majors or minors.

Green’s course is titled Bee’s Knees, Bollocks, and Bob’s Your Uncle: British Industry’s 400-Year Roller-Coaster Ride.

The course will trace the effects of globalization and technology change on a variety of British industry sectors over the span of four centuries. Course participants will also track the rapidly changing circumstances surrounding the Brexit — Britain Exits the European Union — issue.

Pending approval, this course may carry one or more engaged citizenship curriculum designations, such as written communication and historical perspectives.

Green is planning several field trips, including a tour of Northamptonshire, the traditional home of Britain’s shoemaking industry that once boasted more than 200 independent, family-owned companies.

Another destination is the Jaguar Visitor Centre in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, which offers factory tours showing how modern vehicle assembly utilizes both skilled workers and industrial robots.

Students will have numerous opportunities for independent travel by train or air. Eurostar train service connects London with Paris, and budget airlines, such as EasyJet and Ryanair, offer low-cost flights from London to many locations in continental Europe.

All students who participate in the Semester in London program in Fall 2017 will be required to take a one-credit preparatory course with Green on the Simpson campus in spring 2017.

Green and Jay Wilkinson, director of International Education, will hold an informational meeting about the fall 2017 Simpson Experience Abroad program in London from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Oct. 12 in McNeill Hall 108.

In addition to the London program, Simpson offers semester-long programs in Australia, Chile, Germany, Tahiti and Thailand. More information is available on the Simpson website under Academics: The Extended Classroom.