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Primary Texts Certificate

Prof. Laurie M. Johnson
Director, Primary Texts Certificate
c/o Department of Political Science
214 Calvin Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506

Register Online!

lauriej@k-state.edu

Study Abroad Opportunities

The OSAP Student Summer Session in Oxford

The Primary Texts Program has sent at least one student to the Oxford Study Abroad (OSAP) summer program for the past five years. OSAP tutorials featuring primary texts transfer as six Primary Texts and general K-State credit!

www.coretexts.org/actc-oxford-study-abroad-programs

Four weeks in length, it consists of one core text seminar and one Oxford tutorial. While in residence, students are hosted by New College (founded in 1379). New College is one of the 38 constituent colleges within Oxford University and recognizes as a filming location for various television programs and movies, including the Harry Potter films.

Students who have attended the OSAP in previous summers have obtained six 600-level K-State credits in Political Science and Philosophy.

A Participant's Perspective:

If you are interested in pursuing this opportunity for yourself, the following is a short overview of the experience that was shared by a recent K-State participant.

"I studied at New College through a partnership between the ACTC and the Oxford Study Abroad Programme (OSAP). The program offered one month of study at New College, one of Oxford's most well-known constituent colleges. My tutor was a member of the Oxford History Faculty." --Becca Kaye, K-State Student 

K-State student William Naeger attended the ACTC OSAP Summer Session at Oxford in the summer of 2017. Naeger is majoring in Political Science, Humanities and International Studies and minoring in French and American Ethnic Studies.

What did you think of the program overall?

It was an extremely rewarding experience. The tutorial style of teaching was a great chance to change my approach towards learning and developing my thoughts. Oxford itself constantly offered plenty to do both in academics and fun activities. There was always something like studies, events, or travel, that kept me busy. -Will

What were the tutorials like?

The tutorials usually lasted about an hour, but there were a couple times the discussion between a tutor and I kept going past the regular time. Meeting one-on-one allowed the conversation to follow my own knowledge and interests freely rather than being confined by what might be on a syllabus or schedule. I tried to come into the tutorials knowing a few things I wanted to ask or clarify, but besides that just be open to whatever might come up in the conversation. -Will

How was the tutorial system set up?

Students meet with tutors usually one-on-one weekly. The students are expected to do extensive reading and write a paper on a writing prompt that covers the texts they have read for that week’s tutorial. The tutor and student go over what the student has written and discussion grows from there.  My tutors would use their knowledge to help me see if there was something I might have misinterpreted or to expand on something I wrote. I found the tutorial system to be really helpful in making sure I was thinking about the big picture rather than focusing on memorizing particular facts. -Will

What was the most interesting project you worked on?

I enjoyed how the writings and discussions in the tutorial system pushed me to be ready to apply what I read to a diverse group of situations. During my international law tutorial, it wasn’t just about learning the way international law functions or how the international system came to be. I also was pushed to think about how the international legal framework might be applied to whatever international dispute or issue my tutor asked me about on the spot. That manner of independent thinking is missing in some American class settings, but I found it to be a very interesting way to quickly dive deeply into the materials I was learning about. -Will

How does the tutorial system at Oxford work?

Classes, as we know them in America, are replaced by tutorials. The students meet with their tutors once a week. Usually these are one-on-one sessions; however sometimes there will be two or three students to a tutor. Sessions are typically 1-1.5 hours. There are also many lectures given (public and not) which students may be required or encouraged to attend. -Becca

How is your tutor assigned?

My tutors were selected based on the subject of the tutorial. My tutorials covered political and legal subjects, so one of my tutors was a political scientist while the other tutor was focused on international law. - Will

What is a session with your tutor like?

I met with my tutor at his awesome home study. It was like being on the set of an old film. There were old ornate rugs, stuffed bookcases, a chaise, squishy wing-backed chairs, a classic fireplace, old photographs and accolades, and a cat. Your first meeting is just to go over/establish a focus. Afterwards, your tutor e-mails you a reading list, which you are to go through before your next meeting.

Given the pace of our meetings, I didn't take notes. I tried taking notes at first, but I observed that my tutor seemed to prefer engaged and active listening. After our meetings, I would go to a bench or the Bodleian Library and write down what we talked about.

Meeting with a tutor either one-on-one or with another person adds an extra (extremely valuable) element to the learning process, because it demands so much more of you, not only as a student (having to play a much more active role in your education) but as an individual as well. You have to follow through deeply with a topic. -Becca

Tutorial coursework?

My reading lists were between 15 and 70 books. Of course, there's no expectation that you'll have read the entire list by the next week, but skimming is definitely a necessary skill. The reading is very interdisciplinary and very international.

The first essay I wrote was from a prompt provided by my tutor. The next two were from prompts we discussed in our meetings, and the last essay was a prompt I made. There is no required length or style of writing that applies to all tutorials. My essays, on average, were 4-5 pages (everything is printed on A4, though, which fits more on a page). At our subsequent meeting, we would discuss my essay further and expand on the topic. -Becca

How was the tutorial assessed?

The quality of your engagement in the conversation and the quality of your essays primarily. Punctuality also mattered though. -Becca

Did you have fun?

I got to know a group of students that were both at Oxford long-term and students in similar study abroad programs to my own. These students and I were able to explore Oxford and the many events or activities that were always happening around Oxford together. OSAP also organized trips to Bath, London, and Windsor Castle. These trips were great chances to explore parts of England beyond Oxford without having to go alone or go try to form independent plans between different students. -Will