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University unveils Paris program

Adam Llorens | Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Students will have the opportunity to make the City of Lights shine a littler brighter next year when Notre Dame institutes its second study abroad program in Paris.

The College of Arts and Letters will offer the program to complement the social sciences program at the Parisian Institut d’Etudes Politique also known as “Sciences Po,” and the abroad program Université Catholique de l’Ouest in the French city of Angers.

French professor Julia Douthwaite, academic liaison program for the Paris program, is excited about the University’s expansion into France.

“We were seeking a partnership with a strong university where we could send our advanced students,” Douthwaite said. “We wanted something that would be exciting and challenging for our junior students.”

Students will take courses at Université Paris Diderot, a school of about 26,000 founded in 2007. The campus is situated by the Seine River in southeastern Paris in a diverse neighborhood populated primarily by ethnic Chinese refugees from the former French colony of French Indochina. Locals speak Cantonese, Vietnamese and Khmer in addition to French.

Douthwaite said the program is designed as a yearlong immersion, but students can take a semester program beginning in spring 2014.

She said the Paris program offers an opportunity for students to take more challenging language courses on location.

“What’s different about this program from Angers is that students can take lower-level requirements for their French major or supplementary major on campus, and then they can take up to 40 percent of their requirements in France,” Douthwaite said.

Students can take a variety of classes in the fields of film studies, French literature, comparative literature, French language and linguistics, literary history and theory and literary methods.

“They will get credit for any kind of French culture, linguistic, grammar, literature, film studies classes and we are working on art history,” Douthwaite said. “It’s a huge university, so there are many other disciplines represented, and our students are our ambassadors and will help future generations.”

“The broad variety of humanities course offerings makes Université Paris Diderot a ‘must’ for advanced level French majors,” Douthwaite stated in a press release. “They will be able to attend a well-regarded French university and take classes with native speakers, all the while doing upper-level coursework that is recognized for the major and supplementary major in French.”

Douthwaite said students would have a variety of options for living arrangements in Paris.

“Notre Dame International will negotiate with the association that provides host families in Paris,” Douthwaite said.

“Another option will be a room in a dormitory with other students, similar to the situation of the students who go to the Sciences Po program, or they may find a small apartment on their own.”

Douthwaite said the new program also excites her as a faculty member, author and researcher.

“The faculty over there are people like us,” she said. “They are active and publishing scholars and are exciting to talk to … It will be good for our students to have faculty similar to us in France.”

In all, the Paris program diversifies the study abroad options and provides students with an opportunity to study and live in a world-class city, Douthwaite said.

“This is a fabulous opportunity for students, and if I were 20 years old, I would jump at the chance to be a part of this program,” she said. “It will give students a time of independence and gives them time in Paris, my favorite city in the world.”