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:
- Learn about the parliamentary system and the functions of the House of Commons and the House of Lords- Tour Parliament (talk w/ MP’s?)
- Learn about the major political parties (Conservatives, Labour, LibDems, UKIP, SNP, etc.)- Meet with members of political parties (tour HQ?)
- Learn about the election process- Meet with somebody from the Electoral Commission
- Learn about the role of the media- Tour BBC and The Guardian, and maybe talk with journalists
- Learn about unions- Meet with representatives of the Trade Unions Congress
- Learn about the NHS- Meet with representatives
- 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:
- Learn about the EU institutions- Tour and talk with representatives of the European Parliament, European Council, Council of the EU, European Commission
- Learn about the role of the media- Tour PoliticoEurope and viEUws and talk with journalists
- 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.