The past 12 months have seen huge
political decisions made on both sides of the Atlantic which signalled a
seismic shift in the mindset of voters: those wanting to see Britain leave the
EU and those wanting to put Donald Trump in the White House.
These two results, unthinkable at
first, both came to pass.
But I do not believe these
decisions can be the end of the story. Brexit, after all, was rejected by nearly
half of those who voted, and we should always remember that a very significant
majority of our young people voted to remain in the EU, saying in effect: “We
will not close our doors - the world belongs to us all.”
It was our students who came to us
after the Brexit referendum result and as the US presidential election became
more and more vituperative to say that they wanted to make a clear and
unequivocal statement about their commitment to internationalism.
So the idea was born that 2017
would begin with the clearest statement possible: a #DMUglobal trip by 1,000 of
our students and staff from some 45 nationalities to the very heart of Trump’s
empire, New York, to declare that they are what Theresa May derided in October
– citizens of the world.
There are few cities which can
rival New York’s prestige, history or global profile. So what better place to
show our students what the world has to offer, where their talents and hard
work can take them?
And what better city for our
students to make the boldest assertion yet of DMU’s guiding principles of
tolerance, diversity and respect?
Earlier this month, in Times
Square, our students proudly declared themselves Citizens of the World. They
seized the opportunities to immerse themselves in this fast-paced, exciting and
energising city. Their itineraries were filled with activities from 17
different academic strands which deepened their understanding of their subject
areas and enhanced their employability.
Journalism students met New York
Times reporters, Architecture students got a masterclass in design from the
creator of the High Line park while Engineering students discovered first-hand
how the world’s largest railway station is re-designing itself following
The trip has been such a success
and been so well-received by students that we’re planning another on an even
bigger scale; this time to Berlin later in the year.
They say travel broadens the mind.
If there’s one message that our students heard in New York, it was that
education is about dismantling barriers, not building them.