Courses will be based in large part on fifteen to twenty excursions around London. The examples below show just a bit of what we have in store.
East End Food Tour
Discover the famous “curry mile” on an East End Food Tour. London’s East End has been home to multiple immigrant groups who have each put their stamp on the city’s vibrant food scene. Learn about these demographic transitions while we sample foods from around the world all in one neighborhood.
London Underground and Tube Tour
This tour will cover some of the history of the planning, design, and construction of the world’s oldest (from 1863!) underground subway system. Students will hop on and off trains in tube stops all around central London as they learn about the architecture of stations, the politics of forcing separate private lines to cooperate, the multi-million pound business of selling the brand of the Underground, and more. Plus the guides know all sorts of interesting tidbits about the Underground and its relationship to the city.
Explore the vibrant Camden neighborhood of London during an “Unseen Tour.” See the gritty countercultural side of Camden and learn about its influence on the London music scene, as well as the “posh” side of the neighborhood where celebrities hang out. Leading our tour is a longtime Camden resident who works with a social enterprise organization to train formerly homeless Londoners to be tour guides and show visitors their version of the city.
Crossness Pumping Station
City size is limited by technology. At the very least, urban dwellers need the wherewithal to get food in and waste out. By the mid 1800s, the population of London had reached two million souls, and there was no sanitary sewer. Hoo boy was that nasty and dangerous. The innovation of industrial era technology such as giant steam driven pumps capable of pushing millions of gallons of sewage daily out of town and to the sea contributed to the sociotechnical state of affairs that now lets London thrive with a population over eight million. The picture shows Dr. Price talking to students about the marvels of Victorian-era sewage management at the veritable cathedral of steam punk, the Crossness Pumping Station in east London. The flywheel behind him is 27 feet in diameter and weighs 52 tons.
Gentrification Walking Tour
Urban revitalization to some and class warfare to others, gentrification can transform neighborhoods dramatically as long time working class residents move out and more affluent residents move in. London’s East End has gentrified markedly in recent years and represents an important example of the patterns of economic and cultural innovation, change, and conflict that come with the process. Maybe we’ll go to Cereal Killer Cafe for lunch, if it’s still there next summer, and if we can afford it. The picture shows a trendy cafe in Spitalfields Market in the formerly run down East End of London.
The Galton Collection
The polymath Francis Galton (d. 1911) helped to develop some of the foundations of social statistics, including the understanding of normal distributions. He was also a racist and eugenicist. So, a mixed bag, as it were, but a profoundly interesting character for sociologists studying how nineteenth century English morality and technology informed the purview and techniques of then-nascent social science. The Galton Collection at the University College London is the repository of his papers and the artifacts of his work. Collection curator Subhadra Das will describe the tools and techniques Galton used in elaborating his theories about human biology and biometrics. Students will have the opportunity to examine some of these artifacts, which are not on display to the general public. (This excursion required for students in Technology, optional for all others.)
Tower of London
In addition to the excursions designed around specific course requirements, we will take some time on our trip to visit sites that are of particular cultural relevance and would be interesting to any traveler to London. The Tower of London is on the list (and so is Westminster Abbey).