A group of FPU students were introduced to the sites, history and culture of the United Kingdom, with a focus on Christian church diversity, interfaith understanding and cross-cultural psychology during a 2023 summer tour.

Darren Duerksen, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the intercultural and religious studies program, and Jay Pope, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, led 10 students on a short-term summer study abroad program in the United Kingdom. Activities were connected to classes on world Christianity and cross-cultural psychology. 

The students engaged in a variety of experiences, including:

  • A discussion on the role of faith in society with students and community members in Bradford, England.
  • A meeting with leaders involved in interfaith collaborations and refugee service. 
  • A session in Belfast, Northern Ireland, with ministries and organizations involved in peacemaking between Protestants and Catholics. 
  • A visit to a “peace wall” in Belfast dividing Protestant and Catholic communities. Students signed the wall with messages for peace.
  • A visit to the Freud Museum in London.

Not only does the UK have a rich history, it is also becoming more religiously and ethnically diverse. “Because of this we wanted to discuss aspects of the history of psychology and the current realities of what it means to address mental health in cross-cultural contexts. As well, we wanted to explore what it means for people in the UK to be British and Christian,” Duerksen said. 

The group spent time with leaders of British African and Asian churches. “We heard how the rise of African and Asian Christian churches is revitalizing British Christianity and creating exciting new opportunities for witness and growth,” Duerksen added.

Trips like these are what make studying at FPU special, Pope said. “For this trip our students not only had the opportunity to study a culture rich with endless layers and people groups, they immersed themselves into those differences and embraced them. I love how these trips instill confidence in our students as they learn to negotiate the challenge of living life at a different pace, but also humble them and give them a global perspective.”

Participating students included: Macae Sewell, a nursing major from Madera; Madison Murad, a nursing major from Clovis; Madisen Bowen, a criminology and psychology major from Tulare; Ashley Nessling, a criminology and psychology major from Madera; Abigail Crivelli, a nursing major from Turlock; Myka Garcia, a psychology major from Madera. (FPU photo provided)



Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations