Honors Program Students in Oxford, UK

by Dr. Roberta Berry | July 2018

Sixteen Honors Program students are studying the US Constitution from a comparative perspective this summer while residing in Mansfield College, University of Oxford. Class readings in PUBP 3000 US Constitutional Issues center on seminal US Supreme Court decisions interpreting the US Constitution, and also introduce students to the UK Constitution, structure of government, and legal system. A field trip to the Inns of Court in London, where British barristers’ chambers are located and law students traditionally train, brings the comparative readings to life. A British solicitor leads the tour, then joins the class for continuing conversation over dinner at the historic Punch Tavern on London’s Fleet Street.

For the past three summers, a partnership between Georgia Tech’s Oxford Summer Study Abroad Program and the Georgia Tech Honors Program allows Honors Program students to enroll in an enriched study-abroad version of PUBP 3000, taught by Dr. Roberta Berry, Director of the Honors Program. The class is taught in the active-learning style characteristic of Honors Program classes; student “attorneys” re-argue US Supreme Court cases, responding to questions posed by “Justices of the US Supreme Court” (their classmates). Co-curriculars arranged for the class take advantage of the study abroad program’s close proximity to London and to its home base, within the walls of a college of the University of Oxford, located in historic Oxford.

A second field trip, led by a professional tour guide, takes students to sites of historic significance in the struggle between Royalists and Parliamentarians, past the pub where the “Inklings” (including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis) met, and through the grounds of other colleges, each with a distinctive character. The tour guide also makes special arrangements with Oxford STEM departments for Georgia Tech students. In 2017, students toured Oxford’s Mathematical Institute in its new building (opened in 2013) incorporating mathematics in multiple aspects of its design. In 2018, they were treated to a private presentation of slides and artifacts by Oxford Professor of Earth Sciences David Pyle, curator of a 2017 exhibition on volcanoes at Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries.