BAC Criminal Justice Class Visits London over Spring Break

Julia Beeman, Department Chair

  The Academic Departments at the Abbey, always attempting to be in sync with the excitement of campus, never cease to find new ways to engage Abbey students.  With that in mind, the Criminal Justice Department began creating the new course English Foundations of American Law, which was offered for the first time in Spring 2015.  Professor Steve Ward is an attorney who has made numerous trips to London.  He was instrumental in finding way to not only teach students about the important historical connections between the US and the British legal systems, but to show the students the very places where those connections began. What better way to do this but a trip to London! Armed with his legal education, knowledge of the city and personal contacts, he put together an 8-week classroom course that focused on the narrative of the history of government and the church, law enforcement and courts of England. The class discussed how those foundations remained the same or changed in America after the Revolutionary War and the writing of our Constitution, and how we continue to see similarities in 21st century America.

The second part of the course involved moving the narrative to the streets of London. Professor Ward stated  “It was my goal before we went not only to let the students see the course content come “alive” but to expose them to a whole new world.  We went far beyond all my expectations.” The class of nine students and four adults (Professors Ward and Julia Beeman, Steve’s wife Mary and Mr. David Wallace, a Mecklenburg County Assistant District Attorney) left for London Thursday evening and slept as they flew over the Atlantic Ocean. Upon arriving Friday morning, the walking and touring began immediately. The class even developed their own hashtag: #AbbeyCJ2UK. From Friday through Wednesday, the group visited Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Churchill’s War Room, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Hampton Court Palace, and saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. They also had a guided tour of the Royal Courts of Justice and sat in on a criminal trial in Old Bailey courthouse.  The class visited with solicitors and the London Metropolitan Police museum. They attended mass at Westminster Cathedral and rode the London Eye. They even found time to visit Hogwarts Railway Station at Kings Cross! And they did all this while learning to navigate “the Tube” and walking miles and miles each day through the city. Several times throughout the trip, the students thanked Professor Ward for his efforts in pulling together the course and leading the trip. The Department of Criminal Justice thanks him as well. Hopefully, this course will be repeated in the years to come!