Drexel in D.C.
Because they spend their summers working instead of vacationing, you might think that Drexel students don’t get too much time outside of Philadelphia. In fact, many of our students travel throughout the year, and not just for fun. Drexel, of course, has a study abroad program like any other university. Students on co-op can search for a job anywhere in the world, and our Fellowships Office offers the same chance to travel to students applying for research positions. Yet students don’t even have to spend as long as a quarter or two away from campus, thanks to Travel Integrated Courses offered by the Honors College.
Usually offered during term breaks, past courses took students to New Orleans for travel writing, London for the Paralympics, Shanghai for the World’s Fair, and Bulgaria to study emerging democracies. Recently Dr. Kevin Egan, the acting director of the Honors College’s Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry, organized a five-day one-credit course to Washington D.C. The course, “Media, Campaigns and Elections,” brought 10 students to the capital last September to learn about how media affect political campaigns.
“Students applied with an essay explaining their interest in politics and how this particular experience would relate to those interests as well as their academic and professional aspirations,” says Egan. The students who were chosen for the trip visited both NPR and NBC. “Karen Curry, Executive Director of the Rudman Institute in Westphal, has contacts at both NPR and NBC, and she helped me arrange those visits,” says Egan. They toured NPR’s facilities and met with the head of their Washington, DC bureau. Nancy Nathan, the producer of the Chris Matthews show, talked to students during their visit to NBC, where students sat in the anchor’s chair.
The trip was about more than posing as news anchors, though. “ In both instances, the individuals we met with discussed the realities of news coverage in their respective fields—the difficulties of 24-hour news coverage, accusations of media bias, and the influence of money in media and politics, as well as how the election would be covered,” says Egan.
The five days were packed with events. Students met with press and political staff and also enjoyed DC’s museums. “We had a very full agenda, including a tour of the Capitol, a meeting with Senator Toomey's press secretary, Rebecca Neal,” says Egan. They also attended public events at the National Press Club and American Enterprise Institute and toured the Newseum and Smithsonian Museum of American History.
This trip will be followed by a second Travel Integrated course to D.C. in January for the presidential inauguration. According to Egan, “Clearly there are a number of students on campus who are interested in having this kind of first-hand educational experience, but it doesn't necessarily have to be restricted to politics and media—although being so accessible to DC is nice.” No matter any new programs that develop from the week in Washington, students can be sure that new travel opportunities will arise. “We would like to continue to pair some of our courses with travel-integrated opportunities in order to move learning outside of the classroom,” says Egan. Coming up this spring is a course in Florence to study Galileo and a Service Learning course in North Carolina. A course in South Africa to study ancient and contemporary cultures will run this summer.