Faculty getaway tours
Faculty members tell of their fantastic adventures. | Photo courtesy of Scott Waller
They seem confident, intelligent, kind, always well-dressed and put together. Every time they open their mouths, something brilliant just happens to slip out and somehow they manage to capture the attention of large groups of wild fledglings for at least an hour. And yet, they remain regular human beings who also take summer breaks to get away from campus.
Trips back east
While students spend their summers relaxing or interning, professors from the Political Science Department engage in some rather amazing summer projects and programs.
Scott Waller, chair of the political science department, and Darren Guerra, associate professor of political science, spent five weeks in Washington D.C., teaching and assisting students who interned on Capitol Hill. Another professor from the political science department, Tom Copeland, spent his summer as he has for the past 13 years: touring Oxford and London with a group of students.
Waller and Guerra began planning the trip to Washington D.C. around a year and a half before they left. They and a group of students left three days after graduation to experience summer on Capitol Hill.
The students interned all day during the weekdays and then attended a class on Friday taught by Guerra and Waller on faith, vocation, calling and politics where they read short biographies and other literature. On the weekends, the group went on mini-trips to Gettysburg, Philadelphia, Mount Vernon and other East Coast treasures.
Waller described his favorite memory from the trip as getting to watch the “A Capitol Fourth” show on July 4. He and his wife have watched the show, which has featured artists throughout time from 1950s icon Frankie Valli to Josh Groban, every year on television. They assumed they would be able to see it in person during the trip, but only from a distance. Then a student found that anyone could sit in the front rows as seat-fillers for the camera if the people supposed to fill the seats did not arrive. By chance, Waller and his wife had the privilege of sitting in center seats four rows from the front.
Family time in Washington D.C.
Guerra brought his wife, five-year-old daughter and three-year-old daughter with him to Washington D.C. He enjoyed having his family with him, and his family adored spending the summer touring the city. His daughters also loved playing with the students, according to Guerra.
“That was a blast,” Guerra said. “It was fun to have them there because you experience the city differently with a five-year-old.”
Waller’s children joined him only part of the time, but after the trip, he and his family toured Europe for a few weeks, noting the Eiffel Tower in Paris as the highlight of the journey.
A classroom without walls
Copeland also spent two weeks of his summer in Europe. He took a group of seventeen students on an educational tour of Oxford and London. They studied the history of capitalism, the history of the Industrial Revolution and the writings of Adam Smith. Copeland began taking this trip with students at the school he previously taught at, and he brought the tradition with him when he came to Biola two years ago.
“I feel like students will engage with ideas, like the Industrial Revolution, better if you are there on site and see things,” Copeland said.
The trip roughly gets split with a week in each city. At Oxford, the students listen to lectures from about seven different Oxford professors on subjects such as C.S. Lewis, and in London, the students visit art galleries and take tours of the city.
Copeland enjoys seeing his students begin to understand experientially what they learn in class. Since his trip mainly caters to political science majors, he described he and the students discussed the history they saw in England in light of what political turmoil occurred at the time. However, Copeland recommends the vacation for students of other majors.
“What I love about [going to England] is it becomes a classroom without walls, and students are able to connect ideas from class with the reality of what they are walking through — the museums, the sites, the streets of London,” Copeland said. “It makes the learning more tangible.”