French field study and internship programs

Field Study & Internship

The curriculum of the Paris program


Preparing students to participate in France and Paris

In the Paris program the five-week preparatory session is devoted to a multidisciplinary cross-section of politico-historical, institutional, social and geographical France. Through lecture, discussion, workshops and site visits, this two-course session provides students with the core notions, central principles and social synthesis needed for any understanding of France today.
Students become familiar with the actors, the acronyms, the social problems, the political stakes, the cultural movements, the demographic profile and the territorial diversity of France. As a result of this preparation students become interns ready to take their place, and take part in the work of their host organization.



Two courses comprise the Preparatory Session

- Course I - The Foundations of French Politics, Policies and Institutions, Yesterday and Today

- Course II - Structure, Transformation and Issues in French Society: A socio-cultural approach

During the internship period

- Course III - Towards a European society





- Course I - The Foundations of French Politics, Policies and Institutions, Yesterday and Today

The purpose of this course is to help students grasp fundamental notions of French society today by studying the roots and the development of the main institutions and concepts of French political life. It also extends this analysis to France’s international policies, decisions and debates, past and present, including its view of its role in the world, focusing on several key themes. The course contributes to the overall purpose of the IFE preparatory session, which is to equip students to participate as fully as possible in French professional life and social and political discussion. For more than two centuries, since the Revolution of 1789, France has constructed its political identity on the basis of a continuous, ongoing modification of its institutions and on the results of a broad variety of forms of political experimentation. No less than 14 regimes and as many constitutions frame the political history of France. This grand-scale political laboratory has forged unique forms of political behavior and doctrines, many of whose influence has extended well beyond the borders of France.

Professor Cauchy explores the fundamental points of this history in a series of lessons which enable students to address such questions as "how much of this change was in discontinuity?" or how much of what occurs in the century following the Revolution of 1789 is a search for a new equilibrium in a European and even world context? Professor Grosser demonstrates how all the important questions and developments of French political life and debate take on an international cast, beginning with the heritage of the old European rivalries, the favored relations between the French crown and the Vatican, the heritage of empire and sovereignty, and moving on to the great security questions of the 20th century, and France’s ongoing self-examination on its role in the world. These lessons – based often on case studies from France’s diplomatic history – illustrate the importance of the changing French institutions as presented by Professor Cauchy for international decision-making.
Taught by Pascal Cauchy and Pierre Grosser. (Syllabus)


- Course II - Structure, Transformation and Issues in French Society: A socio-cultural approach

The purpose of the course is to equip students from various disciplines with a basic sociological toolkit as a means to get a solid grasp on French society today including the main issues that are currently crucial for the structuring of the French public space. The course also aims to equip students with a basic understanding of French society from a cultural perspective since culture and cultural policy are among the most important of these structuring elements.The course contributes to the overall purpose of the IFE preparatory session, which is to equip students to participate as fully as possible in French professional life and social and political discussion.
In the first of the two parts of the course students will be taught what sociology does and then will apply that to social stratification and transformations in the welfare state, to the rise of spatial segregation, to the question of the "destiny" of French society in the face of immigration, the existence of institutionalized racism, the changing place of women in French society, and metaphorphosis of the French school system. In this way the entire first part is focused on the question of mutations of French society – social, economic, political and cultural, while also demonstrating how the State contributed heavily to these mutations but has been in turn profoundly affected by them.
The second part of the course will examine how changes in French society have both prompted and been affected by changes in the definition of art and culture, especially when art is placed in carefully-defined socio-cultural, political, and esthetic contexts. Ideologically art has moved from elitism to participation. This part of the course will also look at how new discourse on art is reflected in art-making and in cultural practices. The ties between public and culture will also be examined through an analysis of the democratization of art as practiced in France since the end of the 18th century, impacting how art is displayed, how it is taught in schools, its place in the public space, etc. Another question which will inform all of the second part of the course is that of the engagement of artists in the life of the polis and the State as art actor. Pride of place will be given to case study and to developing thoroughgoing definitions of the essential notions in this area of investigation.
Taught by Ugo Palheta and Constance Moréteau. (Syllabus)


During the internship period

It is during the internship period that students work individually with their research advisor to delineate a research topic, set an outline, define sources, and produce the independent study field research project.

Student-interns also return weekly to IFE premises to attend a third academic course, a seminar on European issues and stakes.


- Course III - Towards a European society
The European Union and European integration are phenomena which must be taken into account in the course of a growing number of IFE placements. This course is designed to give students the background and the tools for reflecting on European issues and thereby incorporating European considerations more skillfully into their work. It is also essential that any young person at the beginning of the 21st Century who acquires an in-depth exposure to a European culture acquire at the same time some knowledge of European affairs. Specifically, the objectives of the course include:
- Familiarize students with the history of European integration including its long historical cycles, the actors of this history, and the changes over time in the concept of integration
- Convey an understanding of basic European institutional structure and function, including the decision-making process
- Present and discuss the various theories of European integration
- Impart a concrete understanding of "Europe" at the level of economic and political integration
- Familiarize students with the broad lines of major European Community policies
- Train students to read and interpret European current events.

This course is taught in four parts each of which raises a fundamental question facing the European Union. The EU is commonly thought to be an integrated economic space if it is anything, but in the first part students learn to question that assumption as they are led to examine the community-nation disconnects which can exist in matters of budget, in fiscal policy, social welfare, labor mobility and other aspects of an economy. Another great issue facing the Union is to what extent it has been able / will be able to create a common public policy space. The second part of the course takes a chronological look at advances and blockages along the path of a political union from 1960 to 2008 and equips students to draw tentative conclusions on the current state of affairs on this question. In the third part of the course the main institutions of the EU and their functioning. The major question here is what direction for the EU between efficiency on one hand and reducing the democratic deficit on the other. Specific attention is paid to the Parliament, the Commission, and member state ministerial-level representation. The fourth part raises the critical question of belonging. This concerns the membership of States and the question of widening the Union and also the question of European citizenship and European identity on the part of individuals.. Taught by Hélène Caune. (Syllabus)

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