Making Transatlantic Connections

Iceland field trip: Skalanes

Students have benefited from two international field trips to America and Iceland as part of a transatlantic alliance between LJMU and Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) which promises a “first-rate internationalised educational experience.“

As delegates from SCSU visited Liverpool last week to further develop the student exchange partnership, the benefits of the transatlantic alliance were already being experienced by LJMU students who had the opportunity to travel to New Haven in Connecticut and Iceland as part of the programme.

BA Hons Creative Writing students are spending a month in New Haven, Connecticut, as part of the LJMU/SCSU Summer Exchange Programme. Only into their second week, the students have so far had a tour of the extensive SCSU campus - complete with its own trading floor for business students and sports stadium; they have been to lectures delivered by different faculties, attended a business expo in Connecticut’s capital city and had tours of Yale University and New Haven itself.

Creative Writing Senior Lecturer Andrew McMillan said: “We’ve been hosted by a wonderful group of enthusiastic and friendly staff and it’s really served as a reminder that, in a world that often feels like it might be growing apart, or fracturing, or becoming more tumultuous, another university, on a personal, intellectual, ideological level, can feel like home.”

A field trip to Iceland has brought Geography students from both LJMU and SCSU together and, as part of a module segment focused on examining economy-environment interactions in eastern Iceland, they were able to meet with environmentalist, author of the acclaimed book and film Dreamland, and current presidential hopeful, Andri Magnason at Skálanes Nature and Cultural Heritage and Research Center.

Andri took take time out of his busy campaign schedule to discuss Icelandic environmental issues, specifically the Alcoa Fjardaál megaproject, and the construction of the Kárahnjúkar Hydropower project, which Andri campaigned against during its construction.  In order to provide context for the discussion with Andri, students had previously visited the Alcoa Aluminum factory in Reyðarfjörður and the Kárahnjúkar Dam and Hydro Power Project and watched the movie Dreamland in the preceding days.

Dr Edward Harcourt, Pro-Vice Chancellor at LJMU said: “Visits abroad like this for our students illustrate perfectly the importance of initiatives like the transatlantic alliance and the need for a more coherent internationalised education.

“Studying abroad can be a transformational experience so crossing borders to share experiences with students in other countries, whether it be field trips like this or longer exchange visits, are as necessary as they are enjoyable. The experience will open up new ways of seeing the world, new avenues of thoughts and inquiry, and bring about the ability to develop the cultural skills and confidence that we know they will need to be successful in our increasingly integrated world.”

Robert Forbus, from the SCSU Business School envisages a long, fruitful and history-making relationship for both students and the universities. He said: “The opportunity to live and study at LJMU while completing their degrees at SCSU will give our students a competitive advantage over individuals in the workplace who have had a more parochial experience while obtaining their undergraduate education.  LJMU’s location in Liverpool, which is a very international city, further sweetens the educational experience for SCSU students, vis a vis other study-abroad experiences at institutions in less diverse cities.”

Samuel Andoh, Dean for the School of Business at SCSU described Liverpool as a “vibrant energetic city with a glorious past, a resurgent economy and development experiences.”  He added: “There are lessons our students can learn from how Liverpool has been able to weather the storms. With four world renowned soccer clubs in the city and nearby Manchester, one could not ask for a better introduction to the rest of the world, especially for a North American student.

“We are a reputable state institution, we are affordable and we emphasise teaching but do not exclude research. The ease of access to faculty is often cited by our students as one of the reasons they like Southern. An LJMU student will definitely make an impact on a Southern student who may not have had the chance to experience a different world, one that is some 3,300 miles away. We do hope that it will be a two way impact.” 

As part of the second stage of the exchange programme, LJMU will be welcoming SCSU students in the autumn.


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