In response to a growing need for study abroad options for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), FIE has collaborated with multiple US colleges and universities to create faculty-led non-lab based STEM programs in London.
The city is a vast resource for STEM-related venues and offers students and visiting faculty the opportunity to enhance the out of classroom learning of non-lab based science courses. While science for STEM majors is an unlikely occurrence abroad in London, non-science students who need science credit can be catered for with FIE's facilities and support.
“Our university has been very interested in providing opportunities for study abroad to our STEM majors. One of our required core courses is about science, and I realized that teaching it in London was an excellent way for students not just to read about how science developed, but actually to visit the places where early leaders of the scientific method lived and worked. The course was intensive, with co-curricular activities almost every weekday for four weeks. The FIE staff was fantastic in working through all of the scheduling issues and complex travel details, from visits to the Natural History and Science Museums, to Newton’s house, Darwin’s house, and Bletchley Park.”
Pamela Fink, Adjunct Professor in Computer Science, St. Mary’s University
While London has long been a source of strong complementary co-curricular activities to academic courses in theater, literature, and political science, FIE and our partners have found an endless potential for science courses. We have created a STEM London guide for visiting faculty or study abroad offices interested in pursuing a science-based study abroad program.
CASE STUDY: ASTRONOMY
Tom Bensky, Department of Physics, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
"The long history of the UK and Europe necessarily means it’s filled with cultural centers for all fields in science, just waiting to be explored. I have since found and taken students to no fewer than 15 locations in and around London, at times on a private, chartered bus, all arranged by FIE.
I’ve developed a study abroad astronomy class. In my case, the history of astronomy is quite different than contemporary astronomy. My curiosity as a professor led me to learn that the original use of astronomy was to track time and to navigate, not to find, for example, habitable planets. So I needed a country with a culture of timekeeping and navigation, which led me to the Greenwich Observatory, just outside of London, England.
FIE is near Greenwich and is well-versed in advising how to get me there efficiently with a group of 30 students. They offer classroom space and technical support for pre- and post-trip lectures, and convenient faculty housing. Greenwich was a goldmine for me. In addition to the Prime Meridian, the observatory is loaded with old telescopes and clocks, all of which trace back to early astronomy and navigation. Hardly contemporary astronomy, but one heck of an interesting experience, one no other place in the world offers.
There is another important component to a science study abroad: a hands-on laboratory activity. But not the usual result-driven” lab as done back home, or one that “re-enforces lecture concepts.” No, this is different kind of lab that allows students to immerse themselves in the science theme of the class. The professor will have to push their creativity hard as to how this will work. But, if done right, the students can claim they did Biology like Koch in Germany, Pasteurization (a la Louis) in France, or Genetics like Mendel in the Czech Republic. Suddenly your science-based study abroad has a tagline that sounds a lot like “Shakespeare in England.” Wow!
In coordination with FIE, I was able to arrange support for a lab experience. They arranged for an “activity” classroom with flat tables (as opposed to podlike chairs), offered me a small amount of storage space for my equipment, tolerated a messier than the usual classroom, and coordinated the shipping of my supplies.
I argue a science-based study abroad class could be based around a time period and location that would illustrate a productive time in the historical development of a scientific field. Professors current in such a field are in an excellent position for such a look back, and in curating it all for students. The broadest appeal may be to non-science majors needing a science credit for their degree. Professors hopefully realize the importance of creating new courses to offer their campus community, which is time-consuming, but also a worthy pursuit in one’s professional development.”
OTHER STEM AT FIE OPTIONS
Our partner universities in Dublin also offer a vast array of study abroad program options for non-STEM and STEM majors. University College Dublin (UCD) and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) are two of the top research-intensive universities in Europe. With established programs in STEM subjects from Anatomy to Physiology, FIE at UCD and TCD programs are excellent options for STEM majors to experience studying abroad.
KEY CONSIDERATIONS AND INITIAL FIRST STEPS
We believe in true partnership between our organization and our institutional partners. FIE will work with you to design flexible custom or semi-custom STEM programs and provide as much or as little assistance as needed. We can work with your faculty leaders to provide the right level of assistance and customization they need, and we also offer social and networking events for visiting faculty during their time with us.
- Education Abroad Offices as Key Players – All programs will be designed in accordance with home university policies on credit transfer, financial aid, travel, and university oversight, ensuring the program meets your academic and policy standards
- Flexibility with Costs and Program Options – We recognize that cost is one of the most important considerations with customized programs. One of the many points of value FIE brings is to help find the best options through a continuous dialogue that work with your institution’s budget