The British Studies Program celebrates its 40th year at The University of Southern Mississippi. This study abroad program takes students both from Southern Miss and partnering universities on a four-week, hands-on learning experience to the United Kingdom.
According to David Davies, the current director of BSP and a professor of journalism, said the program began in 1976 with USM leading several other universities in a collaboration that sent both students and professors from all over the United States to King’s College in London.
Davies said the program was dedicated to experiential learning and expert British lecturers, and because of that commitment, the program grew quite large from the very beginning. In some years it has been the largest summer program for Americans in London.
Erin Blackledge, a sophomore political science major who attended BSP in summer 2014 said this alone was good for the university because it is a huge draw to Southern Miss.
“British Studies is good for the university because it’s very, very good for our students,” Davies said.
According to a recent press release, USM has sent over 9,000 students to London over 40 years, a number that Davies believes was made possible in part by student testimony.
Blackledge, who is also an International Programs peer advisor, uses her position talk about her experience with BSP to motivate other students to attend the program.
“I loved touching the history and being in the place where it happened,” Blackledge said. “I think it benefited me as a person. I feel like I can do almost anything now.”
As Davies points out, students like Blackledge who share their stories, which relay both a love for the program and the personal benefits of it, are a major reason the program has lasted these four decades.
“Southern Miss has a deep commitment to international education, and so the university and colleagues all across campus have worked very hard to keep interest in the program high,” he said.
Both Davies and Blackledge said there is already a big push to inform and excite students about the upcoming summer 2015 session of BSP. BSP alumni are encouraged to share their stories on the BSP Facebook page, and Davies said there is the possibility of an alumni reunion later in the spring. This year will also see the addition of a new class to the program, the History of Food.
For students interested, there will be an informational meeting in Union Room B on Thursday at 3:45 p.m., and all applications are due Feb. 27. More information about the program and how to apply can be found at http://www.usm.edu/british-studies or by calling International Programs at 601.266.4344.