Make The Connection

September 27, 2022 | By Marcos Crespo ’23

Cole Peterson ’23 visits Apsley House, the London home of the Duke of Wellington. Peterson used OWU Connection funds to visit the United Kingdom to research his senior honors thesis. (Photo courtesy of Cole Peterson)

Honors Research

Ohio Wesleyan Student Travels to United Kingdom to Study Britain’s ‘Great Game’

Name: Cole Peterson ’23
Hometown: Marysville, Ohio
Major: History
Minors: Classics and Economics
OWU Connection Experience: Traveling to the United Kingdom to conduct senior thesis research

Peterson received OWU Connection funding to explore “The Perennial March: Britain’s Self-Imposed Disaster in Afghanistan.”

Using the Theory-to-Practice Grant, Peterson traveled to the United Kingdom for two weeks in July and August to conduct research in the British Library’s India Office Archives.

Cole Peterson visits the historical Trafalgar Square in London. (Photo courtesy of Cole Peterson)

Why I Chose this Experience 

“This benefits my honors research project, which looks to examine the origins of Britain’s expansion into Central Asia, known as the Great Game by historians. This research spans from 1828 to 1842, which covers the development of British strategy in the region to the end of the First Anglo-Afghan War, one of Britain’s greatest defeats in the 19th century.

“I learned that most of the material I needed was not digitized. I hoped to go to the British Library to put the skills I learned in classes like Historical Research and Inquiry and do archival work to help create a better senior thesis. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to use these skills, especially as an undergraduate.’’

My Favorite Moment

“At the British Library, I was able to photograph all of the documents I needed to access. This allowed me to get some sightseeing while in London.

“I was especially thrilled to visit Apsley House, the London home of the Duke of Wellington. Wellington is one of the key figures in my thesis, so to see his home and the collection it held was stunning.

“I also managed to see St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was beautiful. I went right as it opened, and it felt almost as if I had a private viewing.”

Lessons Learned

“I was applying what I learned in the classroom to do archival work. I learned about the whole process of writing a grant, which was in itself a great educational opportunity. I’m hoping to go into academia in the future, so already knowing how to write a grant will be a great foundation as I go into graduate school.

“Additionally, even getting the opportunity to go abroad to do research like this is a great bonus to have in grad school applications. I’m hoping that it will really enhance my thesis paper, which I’m planning to use as my writing sample.”

Why Internships Matter

“I’d never been out of the country before, so going on my own to the UK for a couple of weeks was an experience that I was both excited and nervous for. Once there, I tried to immerse myself in the culture, although it’s not terribly different from the U.S. It also felt great to do something that I always wanted to do since coming to OWU, especially considering that it didn’t look like I’d ever get this chance courtesy of COVID.”

OWU Faculty

“I would like to thank Dr. (Franchesca) Nestor and Dr. (Mark) Gingerich as I’m not sure if I would have been able to go on this trip without their assistance.” (Nestor is an assistant professor of Politics and Government; Gingerich is a History professor.)

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“When looking at colleges, OWU was in my top three. After offering the best financial aid, my parents and I decided to tour the campus, and we were able to meet with Dr. (Richard) Spall (now retired).

“Our discussion with him was much more engaging and welcoming than the other talks I had with other professors on different campuses. After meeting with him, even without the financial aid I felt that OWU was the campus for me.”

Plans After Graduation

“I’m hoping to go straight into graduate school for history, with the ultimate goal of becoming a history professor.

“I think that OWU’s History Department has absolutely prepared me with the skills I need to succeed in that world. That’s also not to mention the rest of the great faculty members I’ve had the chance to take classes with, especially in the Economics and Business Department and Classics professor Dr. (Hank) Blume.

“In their classes I’ve enhanced my critical-thinking skills, sharpened my writing, and created my own style, and showed me what a good professor looks like.”