Forty St. Mary’s University students embark Sept. 5 for a semester’s worth of potentially life changing experiences in academic, social and cultural knowledge while they are in London for the Study Abroad Program during the fall semester 2003.

“This is a great learning opportunity in one of the world’s great cities for some of St. Mary’s top students,” said Steve Neiheisel, Ph.D., professor of political science, now in his second year as program director. “I took a summer program as an undergraduate (Xavier University) to Europe and it opened my mind and changed my career. As a result, I decided to become a college professor.”

The St. Mary’s contingent, which includes the Rev. Norbert Brockman, S.M., Ph.D., professor of political science, and Sharon McMahon, M.F.A., professor of art, will be in the British capital from Sept. 5 to Dec. 17. The group will stay in town homes owned by the Foundation for International Education (FIE) and attend classes nearby at the Foundation House.

All students enroll for 12 credit hours; five three-hour courses are offered. Alternatively, the undergraduates have the option of taking an internship in a professional or vocational field (six hours), combined with two courses (six hours).

“The key to the curriculum is that each course is interdisciplinary in nature,” says Neiheisel, who will teach “Ben Franklin’s London,” an on-site and on-line exploration of the politics, art and public life of Benjamin Franklin, who arrived in London in 1764 as a proud Englishman but left in 1775 as the “first American.” Neiheisel will make three separate trips to London over the course of the semester to teach the course in person for up to a week at a time.

Students will have the opportunity to record their experiences in on-line journals, known as Web blogs, veritable electronic diaries.

“We have integrated the academic part of study and scholarship to being physically present in London, including a focus on the art, history and architecture of the city,” Neiheisel said. “Every course has to be site-based and incorporate London, English or British history in its description,” he said.

Brockman, the field director, will teach a course on “Britain Today,” while McMahon will teach two courses, “The Christian Artistic Expression in England” and “Art of the Western World in London.”

Dominic Janes, Ph.D., academic director of FIE, will teach a survey course on “British Cultural History” and lead the three-day per week internship.

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