Mason Faculty Members Take Their Classrooms Abroad

Posted: December 12, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

What better place to study philosophy than Greece, the home of Plato and Socrates? Or what better place to study theater than London, where Shakespeare plied his craft?

More than 200 Mason students couldn’t agree more. They’ll soon be leaving U.S. shores for winter break study tours around the world sponsored by the Center for Global Education (CGE).

Most of the tours will be led by veterans like Laura Fyfe. As a faculty director for eight previous CGE programs, Fyfe has visited many different Francophone countries, notably Senegal, Monaco, Morocco and France. When she isn’t traveling, she is coordinator of the French language program and term assistant professor of French in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages.

Her advice to students considering a study tour abroad is simple: “Go! Be a sponge. If you don’t go abroad now while you have the opportunity, when will you? Honestly?”

Brack Brown, another faculty director for CGE, is a veteran of 11 trips abroad. He echoes Fyfe’s exhortation to students, adding, “Treat it as a rare, vital and wonderful way to understand how and where you can make your life useful. That is, use it to learn about what might motivate and inspire you for the rest of your life.”

Brown, an emeritus professor of public and international affairs, has found that not only can he put his government background to use in study abroad tours, but with a biology degree as well, he can lead study tours focused on environmental issues.

Why does he do it, especially now that he’s retired from full-time teaching?

“First, teaching about how the world works requires becoming familiar with the world. Second, I am fascinated with the ingenuity and the destructiveness of people and want to see and understand how these capacities operate. Third,” he adds jokingly, “It helps build my life-list of birds and it provides stunning photography opportunities.”

Mike Dickerson, term instructor and internship coordinator in the Department of Communication, is a specialist in the study tour arena. He always visits London, which he says is considered by many the world capital of public relations.

Thus, over 18 days, Dickerson’s groups “spend quality time” with high-level PR representatives at media outlets and firms such as The Guardian newspaper, Ketchum Public Relations, Live PR and Hill and Knowlton International. Because he’s been able to establish ongoing relationships in London, Dickerson can promise his students “an exclusive look into the often-proprietary workings” of these successful organizations.

“As one who teaches public relations, I learn more and more each year,” Dickerson says. “The course is a unique opportunity.”

Study tour faculty members and their destinations for the winter break are

David Beach — London Theater Tour

Brack Brown — Great cities tour of Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava, capital of Slovakia

Antonio Carreño-Rodriguez — Spanish Language in Guanajuato

Mike Dickerson — Public Relations in London

Kelly Dunne — History in Ireland

Laura Fyfe — French Language in Guadeloupe

Mariely Lopez-Santana — International Organizations in Switzerland

Yehuda Lukacs — Israel and Palestine

Char Miller — Philosophy in Greece and Turkey

Gael Montgomery — Italian Language in Taormina, Sicily

Chris Parsons — Ecology in Ecuador

Ryan Peters — Biology in Costa Rica

Foudan Salem — Geography in Egypt

For more information, see the CGE web site.

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