English FSP at King's College London is cancelled

by Mary Winters | 1/11/19 3:15am

There will be no English foreign study program to London this fall. The English department’s popular FSP to King’s College London will not be offered in 2019 because King’s terminated its contract with Dartmouth. In 2020, the program will be hosted by Queen Mary University of London.

English professor and 2018’s FSP director George Edmondson said that the English department does not know exactly why King’s terminated the contract, but is near certain that it had to do with King’s reevaluating its course offerings.

“King’s College unilaterally ended [its] association with us,” Edmonson said. “We’re not entirely sure why. As far as we can tell, they essentially want to eliminate the middleman, which is to say they want to have something like a thousand spaces reserved for international students, and then students can apply directly ... It’s nothing personal, as far as we can tell.”

Vice chair of the English department Aden Evens noted that King’s decision applies to other schools as well.

“The host university, which was King’s College London, decided to change [its] approach to hosting FSPs, so not just Dartmouth’s FSP, but lots and lots of schools had to stop doing their King’s College [programs],” Evens said.

While King’s hosted many schools with programs similar to Dartmouth’s, Queen Mary will host fewer schools and likely give more attention to Dartmouth, Evens added.

Edmondson explained that when the English department initially established the London FSP, it visited and considered schools all over the United Kingdom. Ultimately, Queen Mary was a close second to King’s. However, when King’s terminated its contract with Dartmouth, he said that it made sense to look at Queen Mary again.

“Queen Mary is a very interesting place,” Edmondson said. “It’s in the East End of London. It’s in a really vibrant part of town. They’re very enthusiastic about starting a relationship with us.”

He added that the English department recently changed its name to the department of English and creative writing, and Queen Mary is better equipped than King’s to incorporate creative writing majors into classes.

According to Edmondson, the Dartmouth faculty member leading the FSP will now also have the opportunity to teach a class at Queen Mary, whereas at King’s, the Dartmouth faculty member only taught a seminar for the Dartmouth students.

Additionally, the English department at Queen Mary offers a class devoted to the study of the city of London. Edmondson said Dartmouth’s English department found this appealing.

“Our students will probably be required to take this class, which is really immersive,” he said. “You sort of go out into London and you read things, you’re sort of reading the text and then going out into London and using it as ... a living classroom.”

Edmondson added that Queen Mary University has strong offerings in post-colonial literature.

“We’re seizing the opportunity to get a little more creative with the program and Queen Mary is very receptive to [that],” he said. “We’re hoping it’s going to be sort of new and improved.”

Betty Kim ’20, who went on the English FSP to London last fall, said that she found the academics to be very different from Dartmouth’s. Each of her three classes met only once a week, and most of her work was completed outside of class.

“[At King’s,] there wasn’t the same sort of consistency that Dartmouth classes have and [I’ve heard] that’s very typical of European schools,” Kim said, suggesting that the same might be true at Queen Mary.

Kim said that the different location of Queen Mary may offer advantages. While she was in London, Kim lived in Stratford, which is near Queen Mary in the East End.

“There are a lot of interesting places in the East End,” Kim said. “I think those neighborhoods usually go unexplored by a lot of students, so there’s a lot of interesting stuff happening there right now. I think one important reality of a lot of parts of London is the fact that a lot of it is being redeveloped or gentrified right now. I think it’s easier to forget that when you’re in central London and you’re seeing all these fancy buildings and just shiny streets that kind of look like any other metropolitan city with a lot of money.”

Kim acknowledged that most students want to be in central London, where there are more tourist attractions. However, she said that moving the location of the FSP could be a good thing.

“London’s not just the city of Westminster, which is what a lot of people think of,” Kim said.

For students who are interested in going on the English FSP next fall, the English department will still be offering its FSP to Dublin at Trinity College during that time, Edmondson said. However, he noted that as a result of the London program’s hiatus and both programs’ constraints in the number of students they can take, some students will not be admitted to the program of their choice.

“If people had their hearts set on going to London, they should apply for the Dublin program by all means,” Edmondson said.

Evens added that the Dublin FSP, which he has previously led, has been well-liked by students, and he does not anticipate that it will be canceled in the coming years. However, he acknowledged that there were a few issues with the program, such as a slightly lower level of academic rigor than classes at Dartmouth, financial constraints for students and an environment that is not radically different than what students are used to in the U.S.

“We’ve been running this program for a long time, and it’s a pretty successful program,” Evens said. “Students seem — pretty much universally — to report that they like the program.”

Kim is a former member of The Dartmouth senior staff.