RSU Studies-at-Large Course Students Visit Paris, Spain

  • Ashleigh Ross of Collinsville admires Monet paintings at the Musee d’Orsay (Museum in Paris) while traveling with an RSU studies-at-large group.
    Ashleigh Ross of Collinsville admires Monet paintings at the Musee d’Orsay (Museum in Paris) while traveling with an RSU studies-at-large group.

Nearly 20 Rogers State University students finished the spring 2024 semester off campus.

Very, very off campus.

From May 18-30, students in Dr. James Ford’s studies-at-large course spent nearly two weeks overseas, studying European culture and history firsthand in a unique learning experience. Ford is professor of and interim department head for English and Humanities at RSU. He also serves as the director of the university’s Honors Program.

“We took 17 students and spent four and a half days in Paris and Barcelona, and about three and a half days in Madrid, spending the weeks studying the countries’ art and culture, their history, where they began, where they are today, and how that connects to the rest of the world and even things happening today at Rogers State University,” Ford said.

Participating students included Jon Biersdorfer, Luke Biersdorfer, Kaylee Blair, Ian Busking, Moriah Chambers, Gracelyn Dill, Baylor Downing, Jessica Hollingshead, Emma Kelley, Tori McAllister, Bryce Pogue, Sidney Roland, Ashleigh Ross, Yuvia Salvidar, Terran Schornick, Avery Thomason and Teagan Thurston.

RSU has hosted numerous studies-at-large short-term courses in the past, typically affiliated with the Honors Program, coordinating learning trips based on student interest and travel viability.

While in Europe, RSU students were joined by RSU Brad Henry International Scholar recipient Shelbee Base of Tuttle, who is spending a semester studying at Swansea University in Wales.

 “We had a pretty amazing trip overall,” Ford said. “We had dinner in the Eiffel Tower – kind of a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience, so that was great. We took tours of the Louvre and Orsay Museums in Paris, we toured the Picaso Museum in Barcelona, we ate at the world’s oldest restaurant in Madrid, we went boating in a park in Madrid and engaged in several cultural events to just see how people in those cities live.”

Although not part of the planned activities, while in Europe, Ford took a handful of students to the Taylor Swift The Eras Tour concert in Madrid.

Ford said he’s been involved in several previous Studies-at-large trips, and – although each is unique – this trip was the first to incorporate the respective countries and stops on the itinerary.

“Some of the students had never even traveled outside of Oklahoma, so it was pretty neat for them to not just leave the state but to leave the country and travel internationally. Overall, it was an amazing experience for all the students who were a part of it. It was very special.”

During their travels, students keep a journal, and they are required to write a paper about their experiences for academic credit.

For more information about studies-at-large and other RSU Academic Enrichment Programs, visit