Ideas for a Study Trip to London and Brussels

I love the idea of study trips for students.  They are great opportunities to make the curriculum more real, and they can make lifetime memories.  Our school offers a number of trips through the foreign languages department (I actually get to chaperone the German trip), but I’ve always wanted to offer a study trip for one of my courses.  As such, I’m thinking of offering a trip to London and Brussels to study British politics and the EU.

Why those topics?
One of the courses I teach is AP Comparative Government & Politics.  It’s probably my favorite course to teach because we focus on six countries (China, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the UK), and the EU is part of the curriculum.

On top of that, I’ve been to Brussels before (once as part of a trip sponsored by the Delegation of the EU to the US, and another time for a seminar hosted by the German Marshall Fund).  Plus, in the past five years I’ve been on Twitter, I’ve been fortunate to have made a number of connections with people who work in EU institutions or write extensively about the EU.

Here are my learning objectives for London, followed by ideas to accomplish them:

  1. Learn about the parliamentary system and the functions of the House of Commons and the House of Lords- Tour Parliament (talk w/ MP’s?)
  2. Learn about the major political parties (Conservatives, Labour, LibDems, UKIP, SNP, etc.)- Meet with members of political parties (tour HQ?)
  3. Learn about the election process- Meet with somebody from the Electoral Commission
  4. Learn about the role of the media- Tour BBC and The Guardian, and maybe talk with journalists
  5. Learn about unions- Meet with representatives of the Trade Unions Congress
  6. Learn about the NHS- Meet with representatives
  7. Learn about UK foreign policy- Tour the Foreign Office and talk about US-UK relations and Brexit

Here are my learning objectives for Brussels, followed by ideas to accomplish them:

  1. Learn about the EU institutions- Tour and talk with representatives of the European Parliament, European Council, Council of the EU, European Commission
  2. Learn about the role of the media- Tour PoliticoEurope and viEUws and talk with journalists
  3. Learn about transatlantic relations- Meet with representatives from the US Mission to the EU and the US Mission to NATO

As it stands, the students will pay for the entire trip, but I wonder if there are any grants for such opportunities, especially ones that promote transatlantic relations.

What I Would Like from Readers
If you have ideas about how to make those objectives happen- people to talk to, places to see, funding, etc.- please leave a comment below.  Also, if you happen to work in one of the places I mentioned, or you know somebody who does, please leave me a comment with the best way to contact you.  Finally, one of the factors I have to consider is that some places want a certain of ratio of students to chaperones, so if you’re aware of anything like that, please let me know as well.

Ideally, I would love for this trip to occur every other summer; so, if I can make this first one a success, I should be able to continue offering it.

**UPDATE: As I’ve been doing research and talking with all of the people who have made suggestions/offers on Twitter, I’m thinking it might be easier for me to make the first trip a Brussels-only trip.  It will be easier for me to plan and get my feet wet in the world of study trips.  I will, however, still definitely welcome suggestions for London for future trips.

Thanks for reading.



4 thoughts on “Ideas for a Study Trip to London and Brussels

  1. I wish I was in high school! That said, I’m going to make sure my daughter is in your AP class next year! I don’t know about grants but check out the London School of Economics Summer Accommodations. Very reasonably priced and, who knows, maybe they would offer a school discount.

  2. Very rough ideas here from me, and I am afraid I do not know how to get funding for this. Other will have to help on that.

    First, if you’re going from the UK to Belgium, it might be worth taking a day trip to the World War I graves at Ypres or somewhere close as well. That’s central to modern European history, and would be a worthwhile trip.

    Re. London and the House of Commons, and Brussels and the European Parliament – both of these have formal visitor services, who will show you the buildings and explain to you the basic way the places function. BUT they tend to not get the best or most dynamic speakers – so use Twitter contacts to find good people (inc. MPs, MEPs) to speak to your groups.

    The most interesting stuff is what people will tell you off the record – so try to find ways to facilitate that (we’ll organise an EU Tweetup for you in Brussels for example to help with that). Also when it comes to the press and journalism side, it might be better to try to get into a midday briefing in Brussels rather than visiting a studio or an office.

    In the UK, trying to find someone in NHS or Electoral Commission is not likely to be especially enlightening I’d imagine – unless you can find someone with an international and comparative perspective

    • Thanks very much. So far, the response on Twitter for the Brussels part of the trip has been amazing. It seems that I might be able to get MEPs and people who work in some of the institutions, whereas the UK part might be a bit more work.
      The thing with the Electoral Commission and the NHS is that the electoral process and the welfare state are prominent in the curriculum, and that was all I could come up with when I wrote the piece. Perhaps something will hit me as I do a bit more research.
      I’m really hoping to give a solid itinerary to my boss, so that she approves it. A lot of work ahead, but definitely worth it (especially if there’s a EU Tweetup involved).

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