Christian Lloyd, Academic Director at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle, England, was recently in Kingston. Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer, caught up with him to talk about the student experience at the castle.
Craig Leroux: What brings you to Kingston?
Christian Lloyd: I’m here for the special edition of the Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR) that we do for incoming first-year castle students and their parents. Going to university is an adventure, and going to university 3,000 miles away in England for your first year is a really big adventure. SOAR is an opportunity to learn more about what to expect, both academically and socially, and about all the resources available at the castle and Queen’s.
What can students expect from the new first-year program?
We’ve just overhauled our first-year program to help build key skills and prepare students for the rest of their degree and their careers. The centrepiece of the new program is a core course around the theme of “thinking locally, acting globally.” It draws on content from fields like history, drama, sociology, geography and gender studies. In addition to disciplinary knowledge, it is designed to build skills like writing and working effectively in groups, and to introduce students to doing primary research.
Is experiential learning still a big part of the program?
Absolutely. New this year, during the “thinking locally” session, students will explore Brighton, the nearest city to the castle, and create a digital map to explore the themes of identities and boundaries. They will talk to people, observe the local cultures and take sound recordings, photographs, notes, sketches, or whatever they want to contribute. They will then produce an online map with clickable links to their material.
Travel is another important form of experiential learning, and we’ll take students to a number of places in Europe. It’s about building cultural competencies, which is extremely important. Either in person or virtually you are going to be working with people from around the world with quite different backgrounds and assumptions from you.
How do you ensure that travel becomes a learning experience?
Some people think that just by going abroad, wandering around the usual tourist sites, you understand something about another culture. It’s actually in many ways the opposite. You can end up reinforcing your own prejudices about that culture. When our students travel, to Brighton or Paris for example, we always challenge them to talk and engage with people and local cultures.
Some people think that just by going abroad, wandering around the usual tourist sites, you understand something about another culture. It’s actually in many ways the opposite. You can end up reinforcing your own prejudices about that culture.
- Dr. Christian Lloyd, Academic Director at the BISC
We’ll take students to the Eiffel Tower, but we’ll pay attention to what’s going on under the tower. We’ll look at why there are a bunch of guys from North Africa selling trinkets there. Who are these people, and why are they there? What are the interactions between the tourists and ordinary Parisians? We want people to have their eyes open and be active. We want them to think in detail about what they are seeing. They may not understand everything at first, but they can bring back questions instead of conclusions about what they’ve experienced.
Are there other academic changes coming to the castle?
In the past we’ve had many potential science students who want to come to the castle and that was quite difficult because we didn’t offer science courses. And they would have to catch up over the summer or do online courses. So what we have decided to do next fall is to offer a science stream at the castle. Because we don’t have labs at the castle, we’ve partnered with Battle Abbey School, a local private school that has excellent lab facilities. That will allow science students to more easily pick up their studies when they return to Queen’s for the rest of their degree.
The Bader International Study Centre is a centrepiece of Queen’s international presence. It offers small class sizes, integrated hands-on experiential learning opportunities, primary research-based projects, and a diverse faculty and student population focused on innovative global learning.