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 40 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 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.
The London Centre has long been the most popular choice for Lawrence students choosing off-campus study and since the 2009-10 academic year, Lawrence has been delivering this program in partnership with the Foundation for International Education (FIE). FIE handles many aspects of the facilities and services of our program. Please see FIE in London's website for information about these features. Note, however, that FIE is operating a closed academic program for the Lawrence London Centre and you should consult the Lawrence London Centre site for information about the Lawrence program courses and calendar.
In addition to the traditional Centre offerings focusing on the history and culture of England, we offer courses that explore the complex landscape of modern British life and culture, 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 also is a limited opportunity for juniors or seniors to pursue a nine-week internship. 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.