This summer, a group of University of Redlands and Tuskegee University students spent three weeks documenting the sights of London for a study abroad course on storytelling. In addition to learning about the region’s history, politics, and culture and how these elements can come together in photos and narrative, the group shared personal experiences and perspectives, making for a meaningful international learning experience.
When she was designing the course, Art Professor Tommi Cahill asked Allison Fraiberg, a communications professor and associate director of international programs for the School of Business whom she had collaborated with before, to embark on the project with her. Their two disciplines—art and writing—exemplified the course’s learning objectives.
“My Ph.D. is in English, so narrative studies were the foundation of my training,” says Fraiberg. “Tommi and I relied on our respective fields of expertise as we worked with students to build their own stories of London.”
Each morning, Cahill and Fraiberg delivered lectures on the streets of London, which, in Cahill’s words, “really brought the classroom to life.” After spending the day taking photos, each student posted five photos in a private Facebook group, where classmates could comment on them and engage in discussion.
In addition to taking photographs, the group spent time in Liverpool and Brighton learning about British history, from the country’s slave trade to the Beatles, Brexit, and immigration. “Having U of R and Tuskegee students on the trip together was magical,” says Cahill. “Each student brought something different to the experience, which allowed them to learn a lot from each other.”
Joshua Williams, a communications major from Huntsville, Alabama, was one of the four Tuskegee students in the class of 18. Williams was attracted to the course because he wanted to learn about photography from Cahill in an international context. He says he learned to examine art on a deeper level and to attach a story and purpose to each photo he takes.
Meeting U of R students was a highlight for Williams: “Even though we were all from the United States, Tuskegee is somewhat foreign to Californians, so I enjoyed getting to know the other students.”
Similar to other art classes at the University of Redlands, students engaged in two critique sessions. Each student printed 20 photographs and received feedback from their classmates and professors. The final critique displayed the culmination of work, revealing the students’ unique perspectives through photography. After the trip, a book was created featuring the students’ photos.
In addition to the course’s academic worth, Cahill says that studying abroad is a valuable experience for students. “It’s important to get to know other cultures so we can understand different perspectives and see where others are coming from,” she says. “Everyone on this trip learned something new, and many of them said it was a life-changing experience.”
Learn more about study away and other global opportunities at the University of Redlands.