Our global curriculum and extensive study away programs take Liberal Studies students from the handsome boulevards of Buenos Aires to the sparkling sands of Tel Aviv, and everywhere in between. You can share your view of the world by entering our fifth annual Global Photo Contest

Every year, the photo entries capture intimate scenes of local life, stunning vistas, and colorful moments from around the world. The 2015 winning photos are displayed below. I look forward to seeing your photos; look for details in your LS newsletter.

By Sristi Pradhan

By Sristi Pradhan

By Daphne Sigala

By Daphne Sigala

By Martha Silva

By Martha Silva

By Chandler West

By Chandler West

 

By Katherine Heldt

By Katherine Heldt

Brendan Hogan is a Master Teacher in Liberal Studies, based in New York City. This academic year he is teaching first-year Liberal Studies students at NYU London. Below he gives us a glimpse into what that experience is like for him and for his students.

Okay, the title of this post was either the above or Warren Zevon (Google it!), and while this reference evokes a spirit perhaps out of step with contemporary London, well, it’s The Clash, so, QED. Plus, no monsters. (Don’t tell me you have to Google The Clash…) As the NYU Liberal Studies faculty member teaching at NYU London this year, I write with greetings and salutations from this fair city.

Big Ben

Big Ben, lit up at night.

Upon arriving in central London fresh from the airport and an overnight flight this summer, I found myself towing my roll-away into the first coffee shop I saw. Stepping to the counter, and with the confidence of the seasoned traveler I take myself to be, I found myself ordering my coffee in terms quite pronounced in volume and at a very slow pace: “I WOULD LIKE A COFFEE WITH MILK.” To which the barista opened her eyes quite wide and said in equally steady, heightened, and cheerfully mocking tones, ‘OK!’ And suddenly it hit me, that my experience teaching at other NYU global sites had been so fraught with linguistic challenges that my habits had prepared me for something that was no longer necessary. English is spoken here, and this has only highlighted for me the impact of language in travel and study abroad.

There is a flip side to this linguistic access English provides, however, that has become increasingly apparent to me. The access a shared language offers can often provide an illusion of understanding and assumptions of mutual intelligibility that are constantly falsified. Every custom, from tipping for a service to greeting a colleague, varies by culture. In some ways, a shared language lulls one into a false sense of familiarity, and part of what one learns in navigating this new city is how subtle social cues and meanings can be, how different. NYU London students, though several have come from non-native English speaking backgrounds, navigate all of the above from their unique backgrounds, now in a community of learning.

In addition to learning a new city, students are also, in a way, non-native speakers to the great philosophical works of the global tradition. Indeed, these works share with an unfamiliar city their strangeness and unintelligibility, their awe-inspiring visions and foreign demands. Indeed, their difficulty. In Social Foundations 1, LS students find themselves searching the unfamiliar terrain of the British Museum, hunting for specific material and cultural representatives of the time and geography of the book of Job, for instance, posing fundamental questions about human existence. Next semester we will read and then visit the actual Magna Carta. Again, we will attempt to bridge the distance between one of the remarkable origins of human rights ‘in the flesh’, and today’s much different world. In time, though, London itself will emerge as one of the great and inspiring works of human thought and imagination, right outside their door for an entire academic year.

Plato Road street sign

London corner that illustrates Plato never goes out of style.

At a university, it is inevitable that the ebb and flow of the year eventually brings us to a new beginning in September. After a quiet summer here on the Square, I always look forward to the busy first days of the fall semester. In LS, we are lucky to have multiple new beginnings, with our students dispersed among NYU’s global sites.

Among my favorite traditions of the new school year:

First-year Away Student Orientations: With hundreds of first-year students beginning their LS education at NYU’s global sites in Florence, London, Paris, and Washington, DC, our orientation programming is not limited to Washington Square. This year, I had the great privilege of personally welcoming new students at four of our five first-year programs.

Welcoming first-year students at NYU Florence

Welcoming first-year students at NYU Florence

NYC Convocation: Back on the Square, our LS Convocation marks the official beginning of a new student’s NYU education; and, it also marks a singular opportunity for the LS Class of 2019 to gather together as a community.  There is nothing to match the energy of 900 Core Program and GLS first-year students gathered together during Welcome Week!

Convocation

NYC Core Program Convocation at NYU’s Skirball Center

Faces of NYU Welcome Week: Each year I also look forward to the launch of NYU’s Faces of Welcome Week videos, which follow a few students for their first semester at NYU. This year’s video series features five new LS students, beginning their studies in New York, Florence, London, Paris, and Washington, DC. Watch the first video here.

LS Lobby traffic: After the doldrums of late summer, when I often feel I am the only person in the LS offices, I enjoy seeing our common spaces filled with students  — talking amongst themselves, lounging on our lobby couches, reading, and working on our lobby computers. It reminds me each day of the community ties that bind LS.

So, again: Welcome, new students! And to the rest of the LS community – welcome back!