The first half of the 2022 summer term saw a return of IWP’s study abroad program as thirteen of the Institute’s students traveled across the pond to the University of Oxford. Led by IWP’s very own Professor John Tsagronis and in partnership with the Oxford Study Abroad Programme (OSAP), the students were able to study under the tutelage of world-renowned scholars, immerse themselves in an environment contextualized by distinct perspectives, and explore the many sites unique to the United Kingdom and Europe.
During the six-week excursion, students were assigned to various colleges throughout Oxford – including Balliol, Oriel, and New College – as Associate Members with access to an array of amenities as well as the impressive Bodleian Library to study, research, and learn within its storied stacks. The medieval-era university proved to blend the richly-cultivated wealth of knowledge of the past with the technological advancements and cutting-edge innovations of the present – both lending themselves to students’ exceptional exploration of research topics.
Differing substantially from the American collegiate instruction we have grown so accustomed to, Oxford’s tutorial system of pedagogy offered one-on-one or small group academic sessions between host professors and their pupils. This allowed for a more intimate and peer-to-peer style learning environment where ideas could be freely exchanged, debated, and challenged. In this sense, regardless of academic rank, students and professors alike were able to engage deeply with the literature and the issues they chose to take on in subjects from Chinese influence operations in Africa and great power rivalry in the Arctic region to the future of trans-Mediterranean relations and the psychology behind terrorism.
In addition to academic rigor, IWP’s visiting students also had the opportunity to get out and explore Oxford, the United Kingdom, and the greater European area firsthand during their time abroad. OSAP hosted three trips that were included in the study abroad experience: London, the national capital of the United Kingdom; the University of Cambridge, Oxford’s renowned sister school with whom they share a healthy rivalry; and Bath, a city in southwestern England built upon and getting its namesake from the Roman-era baths around which it grew. Students truly made these, and many more excursions, their own with adventures being made in places such as downtown London for Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee, the canal-streaked capital of Amsterdam, the picturesque mountain views of Zürich, the rolling, verdant hills of Scotland, and Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice.
The IWP-Oxford Study Abroad Program served as both an experience of immense academic growth for the visiting students as well as an opportunity to expand their perspectives while giving attention to navigating the world beyond the shores of the United States. Studying at one of the world’s most prestigious and well-respected institutions of higher learning gave credence to both the scholarly interests chosen and an opportunity to venture beyond the comforting limits of our own backyard. To any of our future students that venture to Oxford, or on any of IWP’s study abroad programs, it is not only a way for IWPers to sincerely engage with and learn from the world around them, but also allows the surrounding world the opportunity to acquaint itself and appreciate the intellectual value that IWP has to offer.