6/13/2013 Peter Durantine

British exchange students research U.S. history at F&M

Two students from England's University of Chichester have been at Franklin & Marshall College this month, delving into America's past as part of the student exchange program between the two institutions' history departments.

John Scott Fitzpatrick and Ian McEvatt, rising seniors at Chichester, are the second pair of Chichester students to visit F&M through the exchange program, which started in 2011. The program is part of the College's efforts to connect F&M students internationally, said Maria Mitchell, associate professor of history and organizer of the exchange program.

"It's a valuable opportunity to form connections with historians of another place," Mitchell said. "And sending students there is a great benefit."

F&M will start sending students to Chichester in 2014. Mitchell said one student is scheduled to attend next year. 

  • British exchange students John Scott Fitzpatrick (right) and Ian McEvatt, from the University of Chichester, work with their F&M academic adviser, Louise Stevenson, professor of history and American studies, on their dissertations. (Photo by Melissa Hess)

The program offers a cultural and scholastic experience that benefits students from either side of the Atlantic by exposing them to a different education system while giving them access to primary resources that are not available to them back home, Mitchell said.

Scott Fitzpatrick and McEvatt will use the research they completed during their June 3-17 stay at F&M in their dissertations for graduating next fall from Chichester. That was how the 2011 exchange students applied their research.

 "That worked out very nicely for our first two students," Mitchell said. "So it fits in well with their academic program."

Scott Fitzpatrick has been examining turn-of-the-20th-century American foreign policy with Latin America, which Theodore Roosevelt established in his 1904 Corollary speech, vowing to intervene in conflicts between that region's countries and European countries. Scott Fitzpatrick also is analyzing whether Roosevelt was an imperialist president.

McEvatt's interest is in President James Buchanan, the start of the Civil War, and how the United States became so polarized over a single issue -- slavery.

Both students are history majors, and Scott Fitzpatrick has a minor in theology. They were impressed at the resources and materials available in F&M's campus libraries.

"They were certainly superior to anything I could get at home," McEvatt said. "It's hard to find materials and books in Britain related to my period."

Louise Stevenson, professor of history and American studies who served as their academic adviser, helped them refine and hone their research projects.

"They made time for us," Scott Fitzpatrick said, noting the program has been time well spent. "I've got a good, basic bibliography built up."

While both students have been to the United States before, this was their first time to Pennsylvania. When they were not in the library doing research, they were out enjoying the campus, which impressed them, and meeting F&M students.

Other history department faculty and F&M student ambassadors Maxwell Polans '14, Jeffrey Schlossberg '14 and Dan Burke '14 showed the two British students Lancaster city and county as well as Philadelphia.

They were so appreciative of the experience, guidance and research that they want to find a way to thank F&M.

"If our dissertations get a good mark we'll have to send them here," McEvatt said.

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