Virtual Classroom

In Spring 2020, students on the Syracuse London Program had to cut their physical semester abroad short as borders closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the story didn’t end there. Professors, students, and staff worked to shift more than sixty classes online. Though it wasn’t the semester anyone planned for, the pandemic highlighted the value of creative pedagogies. Here, the Syracuse London “Virtual Classroom” showcases the incredible work of our professors and students as they continued learning together — and invites you to join us with a rich array of digital resources.

Click on a course theme to explore online tools and student work about:

Learning from COVID-19

When the Syracuse London Spring 2020 Program was suspended and students repatriated to their home countries, learning was disrupted. But it was also enhanced, as various responses to and consequences of the pandemic created space for course themes to be addressed in a real-world contexts. Our Human Rights class held a rousing debate on the tension between individual freedoms and the collective good; the surge in online activity exacerbated ethical issues addressed by our Data in Society course; students in our Internship Program examined the impacts of remote working on office-based discrimination and work-life balance. Here, we highlight projects from anthropology, filmmaking, and design courses that are direct responses to students’ lived experiences of pandemic.

Powerful student work informed by the events of COVID-19:

Meet the Professor: Our Students

“My job as a professor is to partner with students to transform this confusion into constructive knowledge and productive action.” The Syracuse London Faculty have been inspired by how much our students have had to teach us this semester. We thank them for their insight, and are honoured to share some of those lessons with you.

London’s Living History

In 1800, central London’s Bloomsbury neighbourhood was little better than a swamp. A century later, it had become the intellectual and cultural powerhouse of the world’s biggest empire. Local residents are among England’s most famous names: Dickens, Darwin, Yeats, Woolf. It’s where Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital and George Orwell set 1984. Thousands have journeyed from all around the world to study here, including Gandhi, Kwame Nkrumah (first Prime Minister of independent Ghana), and Paul Robeson (the African American superstar bass, actor, and political activist).

This course explores how this change came about. Students walk in distinguished footsteps to immerse in raw materials of history. Weekly tours, field visits, and archival work with primary sources such as news clippings, maps, and street directories help students to examine and write histories that have never been told before.

Meet the Professor: Richard Tames

Richard Tames has been teaching with Syracuse London since it launched in 1971. An alum of Cambridge University and London’s Birkbeck College, Richard is a qualified Blue Badge London Guide who has authored more than twenty books on London’s rich heritage, as well as histories of Oxford, Cambridge, Bath – and Japan.

London’s Living History’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

Food, Culture and Identity

London’s honors course on the anthropology of food examines how culture shapes the way we make, eat, and share food — and how food changes our understanding of identity and difference. Students visit Britain’s iconic markets to build an empathetic yet critical ethnography.

In their final essay on “The City and the Food”, students normally write about their favourite cafe in Britain’s capital. During the semester of COVID-19, Professor Bajic-Hajdukovic instead invited students to consider how the pandemic affected their local communities, as “being able to record, analyze and reflect on the current situation gave the students more power to handle this situation and rise above feeling overwhelmed by the crisis.Sophia Perida responded with a comparative examination of how the cities of London and Los Angeles supported vulnerable children who typically receive free school meals.

Food, Culture and Identity’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

  • Embrace tea culture with Marulin, an alumni-run start-up
  • “Feed the Fragile Future” with Sophia Perida’s essay

Meet the Professor: Ivana Bajic-Hajdukovic

Dr Ivana Bajic-Hajdukovic explores food studies, migration, and family relationships. She earned her PhD in Social Anthropology at University College London. Her first book, “Can You Run Away from Sorrow?” Mothers Left Behind in 1990s Belgrade, will be published in October 2020 by Indiana University Press.

Underground London

This history course goes beyond the Tube to consider the series of physical and cultural layers that have built up over time to create the London that is lived in — and on — today. Subterranean rivers, tunnels, and bunkers were and still are active locations in the city, while groups hid ‘underground’ both literally and socially for survival, activism, and crime. Course themes include diversity in Roman London; the social networks of Tudor courts; and the history of the Tube. While exploring archaeological ruins, sewers, the Thames, and more, the class pays special attention to women, LBGTQ+ communities, and other historically marginalised voices.

For their final project, students can build a 3D model, record a podcast, construct a map, or create a video about an era of “Underground London”.

Meet the Professor: Meghan Callahan

Dr Meghan Callahan is our Assistant Director for Teaching & Learning at Syracuse London. A Syracuse alumna, she received an MA in Art History before completing her PhD in Art History from Rutgers University. Dr Callahan was formerly at the Victoria and Albert Museum and has also worked with a London art dealer.

Underground London’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

London Museums: Art, History & Science

Through the study of London’s outstanding array of museums and galleries, students explore museum-related controversies and curatorial practice. Students analyse and debate major art-historical and sociological themes from the perspective of both museum visitors and staff. Weekly visits enable students to discuss theories in front of original objects in specifically designed environments. During Spring 2020, a variety of digital media enabled students to ‘travel’ beyond London itself, gaining a worldwide perspective on incipient controversies between museum directors and the very contemporary issue of censorship in museums.

In their final assignment, students use their new expertise to create a temporary exhibition proposal showcasing a sample room. Analysis of a specific theme is relayed through carefully chosen objects, a well-thought-out display, and specific information for the benefit of a designated public.

London Museums’ Virtual Classroom invites you to:

  • Examine fashion, textiles, and more with the V&A

Meet the Professor: Donatella Sparti

Dr Donatella Sparti has been teaching Art History at Syracuse London since 2001; in 2007, she received the Michael O’Leary Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Donatella obtained her PhD from the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa and subsequently received many fellowships. She has published widely on Italian 17th century Art.

The BBC

What does public broadcasting mean in the age of Netflix, Spotify, and TikTok? The BBC laid the foundation for a tradition of television and radio as a public service in Britain with a mission “to inform, educate and entertain”, but faces challenges today over how to remain relevant in the face of satellite broadcasting and streaming platforms — despite its annual income of £3 billion from taxes and licence fees.

When this course moved online, Professor Cook invited students to view and critique BBC TV material each week. They considered how programs like The Office and EastEnders have a distinct social agenda; how diversity in front of the camera shapes international conversations over identity and inclusion; and how new styles of programming like mockumentary and ‘reality’ TV are developed and tested…even as the BBC remains the world’s largest news organisation and Britain’s major sports broadcaster.

Meet the Professor: Christopher Cook

After reading English at Cambridge University, Christoper Cook joined BBC TV as a documentary writer, director, and producer. He continues to broadcast on politics, the media, and the arts while teaching at various universities. His life is governed by a passion for classical music, soap operas, and food…not necessarily in that order!

The BBC’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

  • Spacewalk, tour the Congo, and relive the Blitz through BBC VR

The Global Workplace

This course accompanies the Syracuse London Internship Program, guiding students’ professional development during experience in the British workforce. Participation in the course equips students with the practical skills needed to thrive in a globalised world of work — as well as the theoretical background and critical thinking abilities necessary to reflect on their position in that interconnected system. Class discussions consider corporate social responsibility, meritocracy, and diversity in the workplace. Students also have the chance to practice networking by interviewing a global professional in their field.

Through their creative project, students are invited to identify an issue in their internship placement or chosen sector and develop a solution. Spring 2020 students created guides about corporate responses to pandemic, digital marketing campaigns, and intern handbooks for their organisations.

The Global Workplace’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

  • Tour SecondHome, one of London’s revamped co-working spaces

Meet the Professor: Maggie Scull

Dr Maggie Scull serves as the Internship Program Manager at Syracuse University London. After graduating from Boston University, Dr Scull earned an MA and PhD in History from King’s College London. Before entering academia, Maggie gained experience in human resources, the music circuit, and events management.

Design

Syracuse London’s Design Program offers participants the opportunity to take a course in design history, complemented by studio and academic electives in a world capital renowned for its cutting-edge design. Multidisciplinary subject areas allow students to dive deeper into industrial and interaction design, interior and environmental design, or communications design. By working in a collaborative studio environment and making frequent excursions into the city, students are able to better understand the United Kingdom while learning how design saturates everyday life and defines people’s experiences in an urban environment.

Program alum Emily Braunstein says “London was the perfect place to find untapped inspiration. Each day during my travels, I saw new art and design styles to bring into my own personal work. London is such an amazing city, and will continue to be the perfect muse and hub for design.”

Meet the Professor: Danielle Zezulinski

Danielle Zezulinski is a Syracuse alumna with an MA from Columbia and over fifteen years’ experience in the global design industry. She is particularly interested in how design thinking can solve major business and organisational problems. Danielle’s expertise is complemented by that of other Design faculty members, who you can meet here.

The Design Program’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

  • Map markets, transit, and more with this book by Liran Federmann
  • Lift your spirits with coffee at Sike Chan’s The Doc

Digital Britain

In an era of “fake news,” threats to the freedom of the press, big data, and user-generated content, professional journalism faces unprecedented pressure to retain users’ trust and redefine its role in the 21st century. At the same time, technological innovations have led to new ways of storytelling across a variety of British media. In this class, students look at how British media are evolving in the digital age, finding innovative ways to engage audiences. During site visits and guest lectures, students roadtest a number of digital projects, develop an understanding of contemporary pressures facing the media industry, and examine how British journalism stands out in a noisy online world.

Digital Britain’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

Meet the Professor: Carol Nahra

Carol Nahra is an American journalist and documentary specialist with MAs in both Anglo American Studies and International Journalism. Carol hosts the DocHouse Conversations podcast for Bertha DocHouse, the UK’s only documentary cinema, and also blogs for DocsOnScreens.com and serves as a trustee for One World Media.

Masterpieces of Art

This course is an exploration of the making of masterpieces and the development of genres in European Art. Students learn how to ‘read’ works of art and acquire historical knowledge enabling them to understand why specific works like Leonardo’s Mona Lisa or Michelangelo’s David hold an almost mythical status. Weekly visits to museums facilitate debates in front of original works. During Spring 2020, the class learned about the art market, restoration and conservation, and other major art-historical themes through digital platforms enabling students to ‘travel abroad’.

In their final essay on iconography, students display newly acquired skills: they ‘read’, compare, and contrast works of art with the same subject-matter. The assignment enables students to demonstrate their ability to conduct independent research and formulate their own theories while understanding the historical contexts and artistic techniques.

Meet the Professor: Donatella Sparti

Dr Donatella Sparti has been teaching Art History at Syracuse London since 2001; in 2007, she received the Michael O’Leary Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Donatella obtained her PhD from the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa and subsequently received many fellowships. She has published widely on Italian 17th century Art.

Masterpieces of Art’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

  • Nip to Italy for Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Botticelli at the Uffizi

Architecture

Architecture is one of Syracuse London’s Special Programs, featuring multiple custom courses and studio spaces for the University’s renowned School of Architecture. London is an incubator city in that its accelerated pace of development and central position in global trade allow it to test, anticipate, and play out urban formulas and preoccupations pertinent to cities engaged in the new normal of global economic exchange. The London Architecture Program invites students to experience the multifaceted environment of the city, to reflect on its history, and to investigate its most urgent contemporary issues as they play out globally in time.

The program is comprised of workshops focused on interrelated themes, with an intentional synergy between design studio and survey field work. Critics, academics, and practitioners from across Europe supplement course work through lectures, critiques, and specialized excursions.

The Architecture Program’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

  • Build Agro-CoOp with Isabel Sutherland, Noah Bishop, & Wesley Feero

Meet the Professor: Davide Sacconi

Originally from Rome, Davide Sacconi founded TSPOON, a research-based office with awards for architecture, landscape, urban design and editorial projects. He has also studied at the Berlage Institute of Rotterdam and taught at the Bartlett School of Architecture. He now serves as Director of the Syracuse London Architecture Program.

Data in Society

The contemporary information environment means that we learn, work, shop, play, and fall in love digitally. The consequence of our online participation in social and political life through likes, clicks, shares, comments, and views is a deep wealth of behavioural data — data that marketers, tech giants, businesses, the entertainment industry, the medical industry, politicians, and the government can use to target policies and predict trends. This course helps students think critically and ethically about the role of data in everyday life.

Student essays examine how individuals, groups, and society create and are created by digital data and algorithms. The shift to remote work, distance learning, and social distancing in the midst of COVID-19 only amplified the social, political, legal, and professional issues considered in this class, giving Spring 2020 students an active laboratory for reflection.

Meet the Professor: Eric Litwack

Dr Eric Litwack is a philosopher and ethicist with years of experience in academia and the private sector, including ethics consultancies for the British and Canadian governments. In addition to general social and moral philosophy, Dr Litwack’s research interests revolve around the philosophy of technology and architecture.

Data in Society’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

Human Rights and Global Affairs

Human rights provide a framework for concepts of justice, fairness, and equity. As members of the United Nations, all countries have agreed to govern with respect to human rights, yet human rights are in crisis, with abuses occurring daily around the world. This course starts by asking whether we have a clear picture of what human rights are and how knowledge of them can help protect the freedoms we enjoy.

Students choose a specific human rights case to examine throughout the semester, working to understand the historical context, political reality, and legal potential for advocacy and recourse through local and global human rights systems. Spring 2020 students practiced their communication skills via digital presentations and peer critique.

Human Rights and Global Affairs’ Virtual Classroom invites you to:

Meet the Professor: Karen Bennett

Dr Karen Bennett received her PhD in Human Rights from London Metropolitan University and MA in International Communication from American University. Before teaching, Karen was a human rights practitioner with the UN, OSCE, and IRC. Her research explores the effectiveness of transnational networks as mechanisms for human security.

Documenting Reality

This course examines the rich history of British factual programming as it reflects and documents every aspect of life in the UK. Students explore an enormous range of subgenres, including animated, musical, and authored documentaries; reality formats; and fixed rigs. They will also consider the ethics of using real contributors to tell stories for mass consumption.

Students will view plenty of documentaries in this course, but they’ll also shift from consumers to producers of content: A group project allows students to apply their learning about the television commissioning process by developing their own concepts and pitching them to a British TV executive; the final assignment involves designing, filming, and editing a three-minute smartphone film.

Meet the Professor: Carol Nahra

Carol Nahra is an American journalist and documentary specialist with MAs in both Anglo American Studies and International Journalism. Carol hosts the DocHouse Conversations podcast for Bertha DocHouse, the UK’s only documentary cinema, and also blogs for DocsOnScreens.com and serves as a trustee for One World Media.

Documenting Reality’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

  • Join DocHouse’s Online Hub for documentary masterclasses

Sustainability on Trial

“Sustainability on Trial: Environmental Justice in Northern Europe” is a Signature Seminar designed for students as a field studies prequel to their semester abroad. The first part of the course explores eco-innovations in the Nordic countries, home to some of the world’s greatest progress toward carbon-neutral living. In the second portion of the class, students travel into the Arctic Circle to question whether sustainability is living up to its promise for all stakeholders.

On the road, students complete coursebooks documenting their ethnographic findings. They then teach others with multimedia reports, suggest actionable change through policy briefs, and redefine sustainability and environmental justice in theoretical essays.

Sustainability on Trial’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

  • Inspect Bloomberg HQ, the world’s most sustainable office building

Meet the Professor: Becca Farnum

Dr Becca Farnum is an environmental activist-academic focused on peacebuilding in the Middle East and North Africa. Past projects include contributing to United Nations policy; running an educational exchange between Norway and Norfolk; and serving a stint with Michelle Obama’s Correspondence Team at The White House.

Borders in Flux

“Borders in Flux: Identities and Conflict in Ireland” is a Signature Seminar designed for students as a field studies prequel to their semester abroad. Students consider the relationship between politics and religion in Ireland, what constructs a ‘national identity’, and how the violent past of Ireland impacts the present day. Students explore themes of religious conflict and peace-making within Ireland; the concepts of ‘Irishness’ and ‘Britishness’; and new tensions wrought by international migration and regional politics.

Cycling through downtown Dublin, crossing the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, and examining ‘phoenix tourism’ enables students to explore issues like Brexit, the eighth amendment referendum on abortion, and the current economic and housing crisis. Creative assignments for this field studies course include a podcast and mock newspaper article as well as a more traditional analytical essay.

Meet the Professor: Maggie Scull

Dr Maggie Scull is a modern historian whose work explores religious institutions, political violence, and sectarianism. After publishing The Catholic Church and the Northern Ireland Troubles, 1968-98 as an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, Maggie is now examining the role of funerals throughout the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Borders in Flux’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are core values at Syracuse London, in and out of the classroom. Our curriculum includes classes like “All Black Everything: Well-Being, Justice, Equality and Social Change”, a queer studies examination of “British Masculinity On Screen: James Bond and Sherlock Holmes”, and a seminar on “Black British Music: Exploring Identity through Sound”, while our programming engages the wider community to challenge injustice. The “People and Planet” Symposium Series confronts contemporary issues with guest experts and student presentations; “Love London” activities expose students to British social commentary through theatrical performances, academic lectures, and gallery visits.

In this part of the Virtual Classroom, take a look at student work from Syracuse London courses and special events celebrating the richness of cultural diversity and highlighting the importance of justice for all.

Diversity & Inclusion’s Virtual Classroom invites you to:

  • Salute Syracuse’s womxn in STEM at the Sesquicentennial Symposium

Meet the Professor: You

We all have a part to play in teaching and learning about equity and inclusion across multiple varied cultures, worldviews, and life experiences. Syracuse Abroad students, faculty, and staff embody a wide range of backgrounds and identities: Join us in working to better understand, reflect on, and benefit from this fantastic diversity!