Dr Sarah Williamson is a university director, specialising in institutional business development with expertise in international education. She has 16 years creative programming experience in Higher Education, the last 10 of which have been spent leading and providing consultancy services on innovative institutional education projects that transform the educational portfolio of higher education institutions.
At King’s College London, she is leading the university’s strategy to grow a summer portfolio of education projects on campus and overseas that support education abroad initiatives and research project knowledge transfer/public engagement intentions. Before this, she was the inaugural Head of Study Abroad (2009-14) and the architect of King’s study abroad strategy and programming.
Late June. Birdsong early in the morning. Sunrise by 5 am. Lazy evenings that go on and on to the point where you realise you should have gone to bed an hour before. (But it’s light till so late!) People start dropping into conversation that they are heading off on their holidays soon. The tabloid press is obsessed with swimwear. And universities across the world are readying their halls to welcome their summer students.
At King’s, now in its 9th year, the summer school has grown into a full portfolio of programmes. More than 1,800 people are poised to enrol and embark on what at any other time of the year would be described the start of term. They are coming from all over. The summer has always been a moment in the year for new experiences and adventures. And for cerebral beings, that can mean relocating for a few days to several weeks and flexing their intellectual muscles in the community of learning that is King’s College London.
I’d like to say that there is something for everyone, but if the Internet has taught us anything it’s that there’s some pretty select areas of interest in human society! So, I’ll simply say that there’s an impressive range of classes on offer; a range that works hard to give the world a taste of the research and learning that is the fabric of King’s everyday. A range designed to peak the interest of you out there in the ether and beckon you in to join in the discussion.
From Healthcare and Technology to Ancient Greek, Psychology to Politics, King’s College London is in the happy position of being a specialist-generalist research institution, so we are luckier than most when it comes to putting together options for summer students. This year’s Pre-University Summer School participants certainly think so! 600+ of them, all high school students aged 16-18, will be heading to class to explore engineering, politics, science, history and literature, and so on. That’s 600 developing minds filled with ideas and opinions and ready to shake things up. Where better to do so than at one of the best universities in the world?!
Education abroad courses are also in the portfolio. King’s has long championed studying abroad as a stalwart of an internationalised curriculum and this year we kicked off the summer study season with a course that uses Berlin as its classroom. 50 students studying for King’s degrees flew out to explore civic engagement Berlin-style, taking a journey through the social, economic and political change in Germany. A key component of this course and many of our other summer courses has been exploring ideas around personal agency and asking how people exercise their personal agency to bring about changes in their communities. Not only is this line of inquiry a direct arrow into the heart of our university motto, “In the service of society” but also heralds King’s institutional strategy around “Service” that’s due to be published in the new academic year.
Education is a cornerstone of personal empowerment and there’s nothing like a truly international classroom to bring the richest of learning experiences to campus. One of the fascinating areas of any discipline is understanding transnational perspectives and their application within research hypotheses. And the summer classroom, with its intensive learning format (the summer is only so long!) leads the way on active learning. Increased contact time and an emphasis on experiential learning via practitioner speakers and academic-led site visits means that learning is intense and truly flavoursome. What the short course format of a summer education course loses in extended personal reflection time, it gains in peer-to-peer debate and a fearless critical thinking-infused classroom.
So, come July 2nd, take a moment to consider what you could be learning in summers to come. At King’s we never stop exploring. And if that idea resonates with you, you know where you should be. #summeratkings #everybodywelcome