London Study Tour

This course will include three asynchronous sessions as well as synchronous learning prior to the five-day study tour in London, England.

The course examines the roots of the US legal and governmental systems, within a comparative analysis framework of the US and UK systems. A brief review of UK political history will provide a foundation for a deeper exploration of the structure of the UK government and political systems and its unwritten constitution. This will then lead into an examination of the elements of the UK systems that the Founding Fathers found both attractive and problematic, resulting in the necessary compromises leading to the drafting of the U.S. Constitution with its three branches of government.

The subject matter will be contextualized by viewing the events surrounding the drafting of the Constitution through the eyes of three people with connections to both the US and the UK:

  1. Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) – Founding Father, resided in London for 17 years while attempting to negotiate a path whereby the colonies would remain under UK control.
  2. Phillis Wheatley (1753–1784) – A slave in the US who became a published poet with popularity in the UK. She visited the UK while still a slave and had an audience with the mayor of London.
  3. Benjamin Banneker (1731–1806) – A free African American almanac author, surveyor, astronomer, and farmer. He was a member of the surveyor team that laid out the borders for the District of Columbia. He corresponded with Thomas Jefferson on issues of slavery and racial equality. He crafted a wooden clock that struck on the hour; some speculate that Big Ben (the Elizabeth Tower) is named after Banneker.

Study of these individuals will illuminate that the birth of the US systems did not impact everyone equally, while also helping to bring history to life by visiting sites in London related to each. While in London, site visits could include Buckingham Palace, Parliament, Big Ben, the “Legal London” tour, Benjamin Franklin’s house, London Mansion House, and the U.S. Embassy.