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Pictured, from left are WIU students Kady Fairfield, Marlaina Haberman, Cassie Zimmerman, Conor Ryan, and Jessica Toops, who have participated in the Belfast Study Abroad experience.
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WIU Community Invited to Study in Belfast in Summer 2014

October 10, 2013

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MACOMB, IL – The Western Illinois University Office of Study Abroad is offering Western students, faculty and staff a chance to study in Belfast, Northern Ireland during the Summer 2014 semester with the WIU in Belfast program.

The program is available to graduate and undergraduate students, regardless of their major, as well as to non-degree seeking graduate students. Undergraduates receive six credit hours for the program while graduate students receive three.

WIU in Belfast is in its third year at Western, and the next interest meeting on the Macomb campus will be at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7 in Morgan Hall, room 314.

The program is hosted by the Institute of Irish Studies at Queen's University of Belfast and is attended by students from all over the world. There are two main components: a six-week online course, which begins in June 2014 and prepares students for their time in Northern Ireland, followed by three weeks spent at Queen's University. The travel dates for Summer 2014 have not yet been set by Queen's University, but are expected to be in late July and early August.

Through the online course, students will be expected to participate in common readings and online discussions and complete research papers in their areas of interest. While in Belfast, students will hear lectures from leading scholars in a variety of disciplines, including historians, political scientists, anthropologists, economists, religion, literature and education scholars.

There will also be sessions on Irish cinema, literatures of the Titanic, agriculture in Northern Ireland and the place of sports in Northern Irish Society, as well as guest speakers and hands-on workshops on Irish music and dancing. The program also incorporates a number of field trips, including tours of Belfast and its murals, a visit to the Centre for Migration Studies/Ulster American Folk Park for emigration and genealogical study, an excursion to Giant's Causeway and Dunluce Castle, a visit to the Belfast Titanic Museum, a trip to Derry/Londonderry, and behind-the-scenes tours of The Police Service of Northern Ireland Headquarters and Stormont, the meeting place of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Before the program moved to WIU's Department of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration (LEJA) in 2013, it was housed in the WIU Department of History. Program Faculty Leader and Associate Professor of History Jennifer McNabb, calls the program "the trip of a lifetime."

"I think all of us who traveled would agree it was," McNabb said. "The educational programming at Queen's is superb, the field trips bring Northern Ireland and its history to life, and the city has so much to offer in terms of culture, dining and entertainment. It all makes for a truly unforgettable experience."

WIU senior Joe Maluck, a LEJA major, traveled to Belfast through the program earlier this year.

"It was truly eye-opening to spend time in a region that was once so troubled by conflict and struggle. To have seen first-hand that it now is beginning to flourish with peace and harmony amidst its citizens was an astonishing experience."

This year's trip will be led by WIU Associate Professor Erin Taylor, of WIU's Department of Political Science. She said Belfast has been designated the second safest city in the world by the United Nations, but added that its history of conflict makes it "a powerful site for inquiry about religious and national identity, conflict and terrorism, peach processes and institution building."

"Not only does Northern Ireland have such a rich culture and so much natural beauty to offer on its own, but the program at Queen's University enables participants to encounter both under the tutelage and guidance of leading experts in Irish Studies, making for an incredibly deep and meaningful travel abroad experience," she said.

To be eligible for the program, students must have completed at least 12 semester hours, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 and be in good standing with Student Judicial Programs. Applications are due by Feb. 3 and can be completed by visiting the program's online brochure at

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