Blog by UCC Ambassador, Austin Gould
University of California, Santa Barbara
Majors: Film & Media Studies, Economics
Before I begin laying out the various reasons that state why David Butler’s People, Places, and Politics- Ireland, 1660-1960 class was my favorite that I took while abroad, let me first give credit to some of my other courses.
While at University College Cork, I took an Irish Music class that went over Irishness in contemporary music and helped me gain a better understanding of Ireland’s place in the global music scene. Through the teachings of this class, I was able to take what I learned and incorporate this new knowledge into my own understanding of musical styles, while gaining a better appreciation of my unique musical tastes.
Additionally, I took a Corporate Strategy course that gave me practical insight into the business mentality that I never received at my home university. This sentiment is not meant to put down my home university that I love (Go Gauchos!), but it is a research university, so my economics education has always been more theory-based than practicality based. It was nice to take a class at UCC that really instilled in me the skills needed to succeed in an everyday work environment.
As you can imagine, all of the classes I took enriched me and my worldview, but it was People, Places, and Politics- Ireland, 1660-1960 that really gave me the “bang for my buck” that I wanted as a foreign student studying in Ireland.
First of all, this class was fun. David Butler is a super nice professor who encourages students to find answers to questions rather than pounding facts into their heads. He was very patient when the class occasionally didn’t know something they should have known, but took recognition of the students who did their work and put in the extra time.
People, Places, and Politics- Ireland, 1660-1960 is also the only class where you get to leave the classroom twice in the term and take city field trips. (Don’t show up late or miss these field trips if you take this class, because it is honestly the coolest part of it all!) We walked by tons of old structures and landmarks that had such vast histories; it was almost hard to believe.
For example, there is an old citadel on Bandon Road that I used to walk by every day. I didn’t know it was a citadel for the majority of my time in Cork, and it now functions as a police station, so it was relatively camouflaged into its surroundings. However, I came to find out that this modern police station was once a military fort that pointed cannons at the city just in case the citizens got out of line. We’re talking medieval times here, something very foreign to an American like me. I could go on about the many things I learned along these field trips, but I’m not one for spoilers. Trust me though, after spending a few months in Cork constantly walking by various ancient-looking buildings and wondering what they were, these city walks with David Butler will satisfy your healthy thirst for knowledge.
On top of it all, the class is pretty stress-free. Half of your grade is judged by your notes, map creations, and photos, which is already a huge upside, but there is also no end of term exam beyond a 2,000-word paper and a Multiple Choice Quiz. The class truly focused on the individual student experience.
I highly recommend taking this class if you really want to get to know the history and background of Cork, Ireland (which I imagine is why you’d want to go there in the first place)!
Austin Gould is a recent college graduate currently residing in Los Angeles. Some of his interests include playing music, hanging out with friends, and bocce ball. He studied at University College Cork during the Fall of 2012 after a month-long backpacking trip through Europe.