Summer Study Abroad Program Makes the World a Classroom

A group of UC Riverside students are currently studying Shakespeare in London.

UCR students pose for a photo in front of the National Gallery in London.

For a group of UC Riverside students summer school this year includes traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to attend class at the Tower of London, Westminster Abby and other points-of-interest during a five-week stay in London Town.

They are taking part in “Shakespeare’s World: Society, Religion, and Politics in England” which is part of UC Riverside’s Summer Study Abroad program, which allows students to study and learn in locations throughout the world.

Led by history professor Tom Cogswell, the group traveled 5,500 miles (or 8,750 kilometers) to study Shakespeare and learn about English society and culture in the early modern and modern period.

The students started their travels on July 25 and will return on Aug. 27. A few days each week they gather for background lectures and discussions, then head out to visit the sites, such as the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Maritime Museum, the Imperial War Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery.

During their stay the students are reading and discussing four classic Shakespeare plays: “Henry VIII,” “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and both parts of “Henry IV.” They will see the plays at the Globe Theatre, which was originally built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s production company. (The current Globe Theatre is located about 700 feet from the original site.)

The UCR students will have some of the best seats in the house, which will allow them to experience the plays up-close and personal.

“In the 2006 UCR London term, the hero in ‘Coriolanus’ died a properly theatrical death collapsing into the crowd and a Riverside undergrad emerged beneath the actor’s legs,” said Cogswell. “Likewise the stage blood from the various executions in ‘Titus Andronicus’ splattered onto UC Riverside students, making them part of the action.”

“Summer programs like these have a real impact on a student’s learning experience,” said Cogswell. “It’s one thing to listen to a lecture or to read and discuss history, but it can be life altering to travel to the site where history was made and to use all the physical senses to live that history.”

Another group of students traveled to Spain this summer to take part in the Summer Study Abroad program “An Encounter with Spain, Past and Present, from June 20 through July 23.

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