Top US students explore Bristol’s history
Press release issued: 14 June 2013
Top students from the United States are spending a month in Bristol as part of a unique summer programme looking at slavery, smuggling and trade across the Atlantic. It’s the first time the University of Bristol has hosted the prestigious Fulbright Commission’s Summer Institute, established to explore the culture, heritage and history of the UK.
Ten undergraduates from the US, who have been awarded scholarships in recognition of their academic achievements, will spend four weeks in the city taking part in various meetings, workshops, seminars and field trips looking at the role Bristol has played in American history.
It will focus on the slave trade and the notorious Triangle Trade, which saw ships depart from Bristol carrying various manufactured goods and trade items for West Africa, where these items would then be traded for slaves.
From there, ships would cross the Atlantic to the European-owned plantations in America and the Caribbean. The slaves would be traded for sugar, rum or tobacco before the ships returned to Bristol.
Yesterday [13 June], the Fulbright students examined documents relating to Bristol’s trade and maritime past, including the port books and registers of voyages, during a trip to the Bristol Record Office.
Amongst the items were the account books for the slave ship Africa, which participated in slaving voyages between 1774 and 1776. This document provides a unique look at outfitting a vessel, including crew wages, ship stores, port charges and other fees associated with preparing the ship for sea.
Other activities include a visit to Bideford, led by Professor Mark Horton, to see the unveiling of a plaque marking the former home of sailor, sea captain and explorer Sir Richard Grenville.
During the trip, taking place from 1 to 29 June, the group will also carry out community work at Bristol Zoo, the Clifton Rocks Railway and Warmley Museum.
There will also be meetings with Stephen Williams MP and Ashley Fox MEP, plus a whole host of social activities including a river cruise in the Avon Gorge, a cricket match and watching a play at the Old Vic Theatre.
The students will also be meeting George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, on Tuesday, 25 June.
The Fulbright Commission was founded in 1948 to foster mutual cultural understanding through educational exchange between both nations. It has a distinguished history built on the legacy of the late Senator J William Fulbright and the global Fulbright Programme is one of the most prestigious awards programmes world-wide operating in over 150 countries, with over 300,000 alumni.
The University of Bristol Summer Institute has been organised by the International Office and the Faculty of Arts, involving academic staff from Archaeology and Anthropology, Drama, Modern Languages, History, Philosophy, English, Theology and Music.
International Officer Gary Coulter said: “This is the first time Bristol has had the opportunity to host a Summer Institute and we’re excited to showcase the city’s rich heritage. These students will return to the US and their respective universities where they will act as ambassadors for our city. It not only promotes Bristol as a place to visit, but also as somewhere students might want to study in the future.”
Further informationAbout the Summer Institute
The Fulbright Commission selects its Summer Institute participants through a rigorous application and interview process. In making these awards the Commission looks not only for academic excellence but a focused application, a range of extracurricular and community activities, demonstrated ambassadorial skills, a desire to further the Fulbright Programme and a plan to give back to the recipient’s home country upon returning.
Fulbright Summer Institutes cover all participant costs. In addition, Fulbright summer participants receive a distinctive support and cultural education programme including: a comprehensive pre-departure orientation, enrichment opportunities in country, a re-entry session and the opportunity to join our alumni networks.
The University of Bristol has a long-standing relationship with Fulbright. It hosted a successful Fulbright Forum in January, hosting 65 Fulbright Scholars, lecturers and staff for two days.
The programme will give the group the opportunity to develop their academic and leadership skills, and to meet a wide range of people from a variety of backgrounds – both from within the University and from outside.
The University will also be hosting the prestigious Summer Institutes in 2014 and 2015.