University Honors Program

University Honors Program

The Enlightenment: Honors Seminar with UK Study Tour

"Nasty, Brutish & Short": How the Enlightenment Gave Us the Modern World and Transformed Our Lives is a 14FS seminar with a study tour to the United Kingdom!

Class meeting time: T 3:35 - 6:40    BoKs: HP, HU

For nearly all of human history, life, as Thomas Hobbes observed, was “nasty, brutish and short.”  This began to change in some of the lands of Northern Europe during the 18th century, the era known as the Enlightenment.  This interdisciplinary course will focus on the developments of that era, especially as they were experienced in Great Britain.  It will examine the evolution of the Enlightenment and its importance to the emergence of the modern world, with a focus on its themes of scientific and technological progress, improved living standards, accountable government, individual human rights, and the revolutionary role of arts and culture in social progress. 

Students will travel to the United Kingdom, a "cradle land" of the Enlightenment, to visit sites associated with the Enlightenment and meet with representatives of institutions that continue to promote it.

Tentative Itinerary

This study tour will travel from December 9th - December 20th, 2014. Students will leave during finals week.

Day 1 - Afternoon: Depart CVG for London Heathrow (overnight flight)

Day 2: in London -

  • Early morning:  Arrive London and transfer to lodging in Bloomsbury
  • Evening:  Opening dinner at the Naval & Military Club (“the In & Out”), in St. James

Day 3: in London -

  • Morning:  Visit to the Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific society, with Rupert Baker, Royal Society Librarian.  Themes:  the emancipation of science in the Enlightenment and our duty to protect its freedom
  • Afternoon: Docent-led tour of the 18th century collections at the Victoria & Albert Museum.  Theme: the cultural and technological revolutions of the 18th century manifested in design and manufacture
  • Evening:  at leisure

Day 4: in London -

  • Morning:  Tour of the Royal Society of Arts and discussion with Matthew Taylor, CEO of the RSA.  Lunch to follow in the RSA’s Vaults Restaurant.  Themes:  21st century Enlightenment, the organizations promoting it and how we can contribute
  • Afternoon:  Docent-led tour of the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum.  Themes:  exploration, collecting, categorization
  • Evening:  Christmas Gala by Candlelight at St. Martin in the Fields.  Theme:  music of the Age of Enlightenment

Day 5: in London -

  • Late morning:  Travel on Thames River Bus from Embankment Pier to Greenwich Pier
  • Afternoon:  Guided, interpretive tour of the historic Royal Observatory at Greenwich, designed by Sir Christopher Wren.  Themes:  time and the solution to the longitude problem, seafaring, exploration, collecting, and maritime might
  • Evening:  at leisure

Day 6: in London -

  • Day and evening:  at leisure, for rest or to continue your exploration of London 

Day 7: in London -

  • Morning:  Triforium Tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral, viewing the Great Model and an interview with Jo Wisdom, Librarian of St. Paul’s.  Themes:  English Baroque architecture and the rebuilding of London
  • Afternoon:  "Gresham, the New Learning, and the Culture of Books," Professor Tim Connell, Honorary Life Fellow of Gresham College and Freeman of the City of London, and "The History of Gresham College," Dr. Valerie Shrimplin, Registrar of Gresham College, at Gresham College, Barnard’s Hall Inn.  Themes: the conceptual revolution of the 17th century and the propagation of the program of the Enlightenment
  • Evening:  at leisure

Day 8: U.K. Travel:  Rail travel from London Kings Cross Station to Cambridge.  Travel to Trinity Hall by taxi.

  • Late morning:  Check in at Trinity Hall, founded in 1350
  • Afternoon:  “Developments in Political Thought in Great Britain in the 17th & 18th Centuries,” Dr. Emma Chartreuse Spary, Lecturer in Modern European History, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University
  • Evening:  at leisure

Day 9: in Cambridge -

  • Early morning: Breakfast chat with Sarah Ormrod, Director, Cambridge Summer Schools
  • Morning: " Antecedents & Skepticism,” Professor Piers Bursill-Hall, historian of science, Department of Pure Mathematics, Cambridge University
  • Late morning: “God’s Good Governance,” Professor Bursill-Hall
  • Mid-afternoon:  Docent-led tour of the 17th and 18th century collections at the Fitzwilliam Museum
  • Evening:  at leisure

Day 10: in Cambridge -

  • Morning:  Enlightenment Tour of Cambridge,  with Professor Nicholas James, Affiliated Scholar in the Department of Archaeology, Cambridge University, and Deputy Editor, Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • Evening:  Christmas panto at Cambridge Arts Theatre or Corn Exchange Theatre

Day 11: U.K. Travel:  Rail travel from Cambridge Station to London Kings Cross Station. Taxi or walk to lodgings in Bloomsbury.

  • Day at leisure to shop for Christmas gifts and say goodbye to London
  • Evening:  Closing dinner at Over-Seas House, in St. James

Day 12: Return Travel:

  • Late morning:  Depart accommodation in Bloomsbury for London Heathrow Airport via Tube
  • Early afternoon:  Depart LHR for flight to CVG, via U.S. gateway city
  • Late night:  Arrive CVG

*Note that the group will depart on the during finals week. It is each student's individual responsibility to contact their instructors as early as possible to find out if it will be possible to make alternate arrangements for any final exams or projects that are scheduled for that week.

Course Information

Course details:

  • Course number is PLAN3090
  • The class meets on Tuesdays from 3:35pm - 6:40pm.
  • Course Attributes:  H, I, T
  • BoK:  HP, HU
  • Credit Hours: 3
  • Honors seminar

Course Instructor:

  • Terry Grundy, MA, is Adjunct Associate Professor of Community Planning in the School of Planning, College of DAAP, and affiliated faculty in the Department of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences and in the UC Honors Program.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, one of the United Kingdom's learned societies, which has been promoting the principles and values of the Enlightenment since 1754.

Course Expectations

Students are expected to meet the instructor's academic and behavioral expectations during the class time leading up to the travel component. Students who do not meet academic and/or behavioral expectations will not be permitted to travel. Students in this situation will not receive a refund.


To apply for this seminar please click here.

Applications for this seminar are closed.

UC undergraduates who are not in the University Honors Program are welcome and encouraged to apply, provided the student has a cumulative university GPA of 3.4 or above. Graduate students are not eligible to enroll. 


Total expected cost to be paid to UC is $2500. The actual cost per person for UC is $4000, but this will be offset by a $1300 grant from University Honors as well as a $200 block grant from UC International, making the actual final cost $2500. All participants will receive this grant.

Costs include airfare, accommodations, some ground transportation, some meals (breakfast in London and Cambridge, dinners in Cambridge, two group dinners in London), tours and guides, entrance fees, speakers, CISI insurance and a program fee (which covers faculty costs).

Costs do not include baggage fees, passport, insurance (travel), some meals (any not listed above), some ground transportation, immunizations, or other personal expenses.

Travel Documents

In order to travel outside the United States, you will need to have a passport that is valid for at least six months after your return; for this course, that means June 2015.  To find the forms you need to apply for or renew your passport, go to the Passport page on the US State Department's website.  New passports regualrly cost $135 while renewals cost $110.

UC encourages that all students have an International Student Identification Card (ISIC).  UC International has information regarding how to obtain an ISIC.  ISICs are $25.

Vaccinations and Health Precautions
Contact your physician to discuss what vaccinations and heath precautions are recommended, if any. All participants should carefully read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's webpage for the United Kingdom.

Contact Neil Choudhury in University Honors.