October 1, 2014  

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British Studies Has Educational, Economic Impact for Students, Region

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PHOTO:Westminster Abbey is just one of the many points of interest awaiting students choosing to spend their summer semester in London as part of The University of Southern Mississippi’s British Studies Program.

Students can make their summer 2012 semester one they’ll never forget through The University of Southern Mississippi’s popular British Studies Program, set for June 28 – July 29.

Offering a unique learning experience for more than three decades, British Studies makes the international city of London and other destinations in Europe virtual “classrooms” for participating students who can earn six hours of undergraduate or graduate academic credit. The program also has an important role in connecting America and Europe through economic development opportunities.

Dr. Douglas Mackaman, a Southern Miss professor of history and director of British Studies, joined other faculty members who teach with the program in visiting classes during the opening of the spring semester to pitch the benefits of the program.

“We visited 120 classes in just four days, talking to students about the ways this program can change their lives,” he said. “Those who have participated in the past talk about how it gave them a new perspective on the world and an edge in a job market after they graduated.

“More and more, employers appreciate having employees with a global outlook because of the international relationships that are crucial to the success of our economy.”

Courses are offered in accounting, art, psychology, political science, journalism, communication studies, finance, geography, history, interior design, music industry, sports management, sociology, marketing, library and information science, English and management. Instructors for the classes include The classes are taught by Southern Miss faculty and feature lectures and presentations by some of England’s top scholars and business and political leaders.

Students in the program stay in London’s King's College hall of residence, located adjacent to Waterloo Station, the River Thames and the South Bank Arts Complex. Situated in the heart of London, the residence hall is within easy travel distance to many major attractions, including the theatre district; Covent Garden; the Royal Festival Hall; the National Theatre; the National Gallery; Trafalgar Square; Leicester Square; and Piccadilly Circus, among many others.

Midway through the program, students travel with their class to Edinburgh, Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris, or Brussels and then can choose to spend five days visiting other popular European destinations.

Richard Price, the Mississippi Development Authority’s representative to the United Kingdom and Europe, was on the Hattiesburg campus recently to speak to representatives of the British Studies Consortium and visit the Mississippi Polymer Institute. The consortium is a network of universities participating in the British Studies Program, with Southern Miss serving as the coordinating institution.

Price assists with logistics for British Studies students and faculty when they come to London. He said that American students can learn a lot through the program, especially those who want to learn about how the two cultures intersect economically.

“Even though we speak the same language, our cultures are quite different,” Price said. “Students studying abroad in London, especially those who are interested in careers in international business, get the opportunity to understand business practices and culture in the UK and how they interact with American businesses.”

Price said he sees more and more opportunities for cultural, educational and business relationships between Mississippi and the United Kingdom and Europe. Business clusters in Mississippi that include aerospace, defense, automobile, plastics and energy industries, along with attractive cost structures and incentives offered by the state, have strong potential to attract more European investment, he said.

He cited the Nissan and Toyota plants as examples of successful foreign investments in Mississippi, as well as the testing facilities for Rolls Royce aircraft engines and other products at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County.

“I work to make businesses in the UK and Europe aware of what the state and region has to offer,” Price said. “So a lot of what I do is raising the flag for Mississippi.”

The Southern Miss British Studies Program is currently accepting applications for the summer semester. Financial aid is available. For more information, online visit www.britishstudiesprogram.org or call Southern Miss International Education at 601.266.4344. Visit http://www.usm.edu/study-abroad for information about the university’s other study abroad programs.