Blending Design & Culture in the United Kingdom
Discover the connections between design and culture in the United Kingdom.
London is a diverse, colorful, captivating artistic and intellectual power. It is both Medieval and cutting-edge, simultaneously Victorian and modern. While virtually visiting London, discover how charming gardens and world-renowned museums make up just part of its brilliance.
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a modern city that—like London—effortlessly bridges the historical and the present day. While virtually visiting Edinburgh, experience how the design of sites like the Medieval Old Town and the neoclassical New Town has contributed to the cultures of the United Kingdom throughout history.
The aim of the course is to present design as an important aspect of our culture—how and why things are made, planned, organized, and positioned in our world is important. Ultimately, the goal is to observe the world around us and realize that this is at the heart of the design process.
We will focus on how expressions of design activity have become a measure of culture and a lens through which culture is evaluated in our contemporary world. We will view design and the study of design in a deliberately broad way—as a key ingredient in the way a culture expresses itself to itself and to others. To examine cultural differences, we will study design in Minnesota as well as design in Scotland and England.
We will also study how design expressions (graphic design, interior design, architecture, etc.) have helped communicate contemporary Britain and shape its cultures over time. The coursework and site visits will 1) demonstrate how design and the formation of cultural/cultural identity are connected 2) emphasize today's need for social responsibility and ethical understanding in design.
Housing & Meals
Students will stay in hotels with other program participants.
A welcome and farewell meal and some additional meals are included in the program costs. Take other meals at local restaurants and eateries.
England and Scotland will become our classroom as we explore and experience the seminar coursework through site visits. Excursions, visits, tours, and sites in London and Edinburgh may include:
- Covent Garden: architecture and retail
- Brick Lane and the East End: diverse inner London
- Tate Modern and the South Bank
- Victoria and Albert Museum: the world's leading museum of art and design
- West End: the theatre hub of London
- Walking Tour of Edinburgh
- Arthur’s Seat
- Scottish Museum
- Scottish National Gallery
- Edinburgh Castle: a top heritage attraction in the UK
All program participants will take the coordinated group flight to and from the program site. The cost of the group flight is included in the program fee that will be posted to your student account. Do not book your own flight; you will receive information from the Learning Abroad Center about your seat on the group flight once your participation has been confirmed.
- Socialize as global professionals who understand that human interaction and culture are relevant to achieving professional goals
- Discover and connect with the University of Minnesota campus and community
- Think critically, analyze topics, and appreciate diverse perspectives through pre-departure coursework, studying abroad, and guided reflection
- Function as an effective team member by utilizing personal strengths in a group setting
- Develop an understanding of the importance of future international and intercultural learning
Faculty & Staff
This seminar is taught by James Boyd Brent, a professor of Graphic Design in the College of Design. He has taught freshman courses for more than ten years, including Freshman Seminars to the United Kingdom in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2019, and 2020, as well as Freshman Seminars to Istanbul in 2015 and 2016. He is a practicing printmaker, exhibiting widely, and a recipient of the McFarland Outstanding Teaching Award in the College of Design.
One 3-credit course
This is an on-campus class during the spring semester. On-campus Spring Semester 2022 course meets: Wednesdays from 9:35–11:30 a.m. on St. Paul campus. Abroad term: Spring Break 2022
Coursework will include five short response papers, a semester journal, and a term paper/research project, as well as a final presentation of this design-related research project. Students will keep a written and visual journal and start work on their term papers, then present them back in class.
No previous design experience is required.
Receive credit for: DES 1406W
Liberal Education Fulfillments: Global Perspectives and Writing Intensive
Submit the online application and complete the assigned application checklist according to the appropriate deadline:
|Term||Program Dates||Application Deadline|
|Spring Break 2022||March 4 - March 13, 2022||December 1, 2021|
Important Note: This program departs for the UK on Friday, March 4. If you have any class on that date, you may need to miss them in order to travel.
Program dates are subject to change.
If the deadline falls on a weekend, submit your materials on the following business day.
Important Note: Enrollment on this program is limited to 20 students. Admission is granted on a rolling basis and applications are reviewed in the order they are completed. Some programs may fill to capacity prior to the application deadline, therefore applying early is recommended. Additionally, applying early will allow for more time to plan ahead and prepare for the program.
On Campus Dates
Wednesdays, 9:35–11:30 a.m., on St. Paul campus
Orientation Dates & Locations
Orientation will be conducted in 2 parts: an online orientation, which is mandatory for all students, and an in-person, program-specific session. You will receive more information about the online orientation via email. Failure to complete the online orientation will impact your ability to go abroad.
See below for tentative dates and times for your in-person session. You will be notified of the official date and time via email. Participants will receive applicable orientation materials via email approximately 1 week prior to the in-person session.
|Spring Break 2022||TBD||TBD|
Spring Break 2022 Cost of Participation forthcoming
The program fee includes airfare, housing, program administration, welcome and farewell meals, some additional meals, international health insurance, entrances to course-related excursions and site visits, airport transfers, and in-country transportation for all course related activities. Typically, program fees range between $4,000–$4,700. Students must also budget for passport and passport photos, a few meals, spending money, and miscellaneous living expenses.
If you do not see a budget estimate for the term you intend to go abroad, the fee has not yet been finalized. We strive to post fees for this program at least 30 days prior to the application deadline. The Learning Abroad Center will delay the posting of some fees until enrollments, inflation and exchange rates are determined. Note the average increase in fees will be 3–10%. Program fees are based on estimates and may change depending on international economic factors.
If you are registered for less than 13-credits, or if you are a non-UofM student, you will be charged tuition for this course in addition to the program fee. Notify the Learning Abroad Center if this applies to you.
Billing & Payments
Visit Billing for information about the billing process for application fees, deposits, and program fees.
Financial Aid & Scholarships
Visit Financial Information for information on using financial aid and scholarships for study abroad.
Bridging Loan, a no-interest/no-fees loan that funds the upfront deposit and flights costs, is available for this program for eligible students.
Before you apply to or confirm your participation on this program, review the Learning Abroad Center's Cancellation Policy to inform yourself of the timeline and financial obligations for canceling.
Be aware: Learning Abroad Center programs require a $50 application fee. This fee will be charged to your student account upon submission of an online application.
You will be charged a $50 application fee for each application you submit.
After you submit your application, you will receive an email notification confirming that your application was received. Submitted applications are assigned an application checklist, which will include the following items:
- Application Essay
Detailed descriptions and instructions for submitting each checklist item are included on the application checklist assigned to you.
After your application checklist is complete, your application is reviewed by our program team. You will be notified of an acceptance decision by email. If accepted, you will be assigned a confirmation checklist, which you will complete to confirm your participation in the program. If you decide not to continue with the application process, log into the online application system and submit a Cancel Request.
Register for On-Campus Course
Your participation on this program is secured by applying and confirming through the Learning Abroad Center application process.
You will also need to register for the on-campus course DES 1406W.
Note: Registering for the course, but not confirming through the Learning Abroad Center, will not hold your spot in the program.
For further information or questions about this program, send an email to