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Steigerwald shares insight on WWII Study Abroad Program

WWII study abroad program

David Steigerwald, professor in the Department of History, shared his insight in a recent video on the experiences of the students who participate in his May session study abroad program, The U.S., Europe and the Second World War - Intersections in 20th Century History. The program, which is open to all majors, explores the significance of World War II sites in England, France and Germany.

Before departing for Europe, the students enroll in several spring semester courses to prepare for their experience abroad. “By the time they get ready to go to Europe in May they have a pretty good undergraduate basis for what they are seeing and what they are learning when they are there,” said Steigerwald. “They are well prepared to deal with the things that they encounter in Europe.”

Steigerwald finds that the amount of traveling from one country to the next is what draws students into the program.

“Many of them are attracted by the travel,” he said. “We go to London, we go to Normandy, we go to Paris and we go to Berlin. Next year I’m pretty sure we are going to cut Paris a little bit so we can go to Poland as well. So it’s the travel that really attracts, especially, those who have not had a chance to go abroad.”

He thinks this program is a transformative experience.

“Students who have gone on the program have uniformly loved it, and a number of them have told me that it has been life-changing for them,” he said. “I think that the whole structure of the program can have that effect on students. They’ve become close friends with at least some of their fellow program students. They’ve developed a close relationship with a couple of Ohio State faculty that remains.

He emphasized the importance of gaining an understanding of  world history from the perspective of the British, the French and the Germans.

“One of our focuses on the trip is to appreciate the different interpretation of the war in different places, and the museums are really interpretative marvels that express a kind of collective national memory wherever you’re at,” said Steigerwald. “One of our tasks is to understand how the British, the French and the Germans all see the war in a different historical light as you can easily imagine. We make sure that students have enough time to see the sights. In fact, in each place we’re at they have a free day where they get to explore on their own, but we also finish early enough in the afternoon that they can go out and enjoy the places where they’re staying.”

Watch the video to hear David Steigerwald’s remarks in their entirety.