London – the world in one city
At the beginning of the 20th century, London was the seat of an empire encompassing the largest landmass of any in world history and a population of over 400 million subjects. One sees this history in the city's wealth, in the grandeur of its architecture, in the tremendous variety and richness of its cultural institutions, and in the beauty of its many parks and monuments. Yet the single greatest legacy of Great Britain's long imperial history is London's internationally recognized position as a cosmopolitan centre of artistic, financial, and intellectual activity.
Having once extended its reach to the four corners of the globe, London now reflects the Commonwealth in microcosm, as it is home to one of the largest and most diverse immigrant populations of any city in the world. Over the course of the past 45 years, daily life in London has increasingly become an ongoing experiment in diversity, where the interaction of widely differing cultural, economic, and intellectual traditions encapsulates like few other places on the planet the complex possibilities and challenges presented by "globalization."
The London Centre today
The London Centre has long been the most popular choice for Lawrence students choosing off-campus study. From Fall 2018, it will be located only a short walk away from Convent Garden, the West End and Soho, in the heart of Bloomsbury, at 98-103 Great Russell Street:
These historical buildings have evolved over 300 years and are registered on the British National Heritage list. In 1685, Thomas Tufton, Earl of Thanet, acquired a plot of land on the north side of Great Russell Street. On this land he built his grand terrace home, Thanet House, which was constructed in the Georgian style of the time. Buildings adjacent to the original Thanet House were built some time between 1685 and 1693. By the late 1600's these buildings, along the fringe of fashionable Bloomsbury, were frequented by members of the aristocracy and gentry. Indeed, both the Peacock Room and the Adams Room were once drawing rooms for the elite of London and both once had beautiful long country views to the north, up towards Highgate and Hampstead.
Since December 1992, Florida State University has been the freeholder for the site, running their own study abroad programme here, as well as hosting other U.S. institutions.
Living at the London Centre
London Centre students will live in modern, comfortable, self-contained flats which are located within these historic buildings. The apartments feature 2 or 3 rooms with either 2 or 3 beds each, plus plenty of storage space and a safe for each student where they can safely store their laptops and valuables. The flats are modern, light, spacious, and fully equipped with free WiFi, a flat screen television, a kitchen with microwave oven, electric range, refrigerator and freezer, bed linen, towels and more. The flats are cleaned by housekeepers once a week, which includes a weekly change of bed linens and towels. Check out our Facebook page for more photos of the London Centre Campus and Housing.
On site, there are classrooms, a lecture hall/theatre, three computer labs with printing facilities, and a library with a librarian and IT assistants, which included books, DVDs, travel guides, newspapers and magazines, and quiet study areas. Free WiFi throughout the building allows students to study wherever they feel comfortable.
The Campus is monitored by a 24-hour reception/security staff and requires secure swipe-card access. The building also provides a student lounge with free laundry facilities.
The London Centre Programme
The London Centre operates a closed academic program for the Lawrence London Centre and you can find more information about the Lawrence program courses and calendar here.
The Centre not only focuses on the history and culture of England, but also runs courses that explore the complex landscape of modern British life and culture, including the Fringe Theatre movement, the impacts of Empire on 19th century British society, and the nature of historical inquiry in a city that dates to Roman times.
There are also opportunities for students to pursue a nine-week internship in London and a list of internship placement areas can be found here.
Given the Centre's focus on General Education Requirements, first year students are encouraged to consider the possibility of studying in London during their sophomore year. Given possibilities for internships, independent study, music lessons, and other means of tailoring the London Centre experience, upperclassmen are encouraged to pursue study at the Centre. The Centre is open to students with sophomore standing or above approved by the Subcommittee on Off-Campus Study. Students may pursue study for either one or two terms.
The history of the London Centre
The Lawrence London Centre was established in 1970 to introduce Lawrence students to the rich social, cultural, and political history of the British people through a program of classroom study supplemented by field trips, museum visits, cultural opportunities, and travel. It was originally located in the Arden Hotel, with a private classroom for lessons and housing for students with more traditional hotel customers. The hotel’s landlady, Miss Riley, is remembered with fondness for her strict rules, British sense of propriety, free-roaming cat, Tiddles, and her affection for Lawrence students which grew through the decade the Centre was located there.
While the London Centre has moved nearly a dozen times in the intervening decades, it still retains its charm and affection from its staff and faculty. It endeavors to continue to play an important role in a Lawrence liberal arts education by utilizing its setting in a cosmopolitan world city as a rich text wherein Lawrence students can engage the significant political, economic, cultural, and intellectual challenges of the 21st century.