Students explore civil and human rights during American study trip

Date 18.10.2018

A group of Education Studies Students have just returned from a study trip to Atlanta, Georgia, a unique and historic city which has a focus on civil rights in its cultural DNA, as part of their course.

The group of 11 BA (Hons) Education Studies students, in their second and third years of study at the University of Northampton, exploring global perspectives on education, key issues, policies and debates in education today, and the way in which the world around a child can influence their experiences while in education.

During the trip, students visited many historical sites in the City, including the birth home of Dr Martin Luther King, the Carter Presidential archives and library where they examined archive material relevant to civil and human rights. The students had the opportunity to meet with the Director of the LGBTQ research institute to discuss contemporary research and campaigns in a part of the US that has the least progressive laws protecting the LGBTQ population.

Students also visited schools and settings in the ‘Sanctuary’ suburb of Clarkeston, to meet with staff and pupils, experiencing the education system in action within ‘charter’ schools, which focus on supporting pupils from refugee backgrounds. Charter schools have both supporters and detractors who fear they can increase division in communities and compete with public schools so this provided an interesting perspective.  Looking deeper at the difficulties refugees have to contend with particularly within society and education systems, the students gained an alternative perspective from staff from refugee support services.  Students then explored the current political and societal issues with the Mayor of Clarkston ‘The most ethnically diverse square mile in the US’, specifically discussing the issues he faces within his constituency.

Sean Millar, a second year Education Studies Student said: “The Atlanta trip was a great opportunity to really think about how outside influences can influence children’s education. The international trips on offer on the course are a great opportunity to further understand the way in which those who work in education must have a grasp of the world outside the classroom to better help young people reach their potential.”

Dr Kyffin Jones, Senior Lecturer in Education said: “During this trip, the students explore many global issues in education, in the context of civil and human rights. Looking at this in detail in Atlanta gives a unique view on how the civil rights movement has influenced the way in which the education system responds to children from different backgrounds.

“To conclude the trip students visited the CNN studios to explore the contemporary role of the media in the era of ‘fake’ news and bias. Students met with Ted Turner who founded CNN in the 1970s”.

The trip to Atlanta is part of a longstanding international collaboration with Georgia State University.