Institute for Field Education

Academic Courses

The curriculum of the Strasbourg Program

Preparing students to participate in Strasbourg and Alsace

In the Strasbourg program the five-week preparatory session is a triptych constructed to provide students a solid understanding of the constitutive elements of French society in the specific context of Strasbourg and Alsace, while also treating the issues and problems faced at local and regional as well as national levels.

The European context, which determines a good deal at these various levels, is integral to the content of the preparatory session.

The three courses comprising the preparatory session treat, respectively:

- The fundamental political institutions of French life as they arose historically;
- France’s situation in Europe and internationally;
- Social realities in France today.

All three courses - and especially the first and third - make abundant reference to the realities of Alsace and Strasbourg.

As a result of this preparation students become interns ready to take their place, and take part in the work of their host organization.

Three courses comprise the Preparatory Session

- Course I - A Political History of France: Transformations in the state and political life since Napoleon
This course is designed to provide students with several important keys to understanding France today, chief among them being the development of the French notion of the State as well as changes in this central concept over time. Taking a historical and political approach, the course demonstrates how the notion of the State has structured and continues to structure French political life and French society, even as it is undergoing transformation as a result of pressure from new forms of integration, from Europe, from forced changes in the French model of the welfare State, etc. Taught by Thérèse Krempp (syllabus)

- Course II - France in Europe and the World
This course provides students with fundamental keys to understanding France today in terms of its colonial past, its real and perceived role on the world stage, and the several versions of the question of decline that currently color the French outlook. Its successful adaptation in the face of the upheavals of the 20th century, its transformation into an industrial power, and its leadership role in establishing a peaceful Europe have, in turn, led to further challenges and questions of French identity. These include the question of nation and European community, the notion of State in a modern context, and others. Domestic and foreign policies overlap and interact. This course uses France’s place in Europe and the world to lead students to an understanding of the new political and social makeup of France that is slowly emerging, a source of both doubt and hope. Taught by Birte Wassenberg (syllabus)

- Course III - French Society: Problems and prospects
The key to understanding contemporary French society that is provided to students by this course lies in grasping the paradox between the democratic ideal that is at the foundation of all the institutions of modern, post-revolutionary France on one hand and, on the other, the current crisis of those institutions – and even of deep societal values – which is provoked by the pressures of global economic liberalism and the transformations taking place in Europe and in its Union. Through this course students become familiar with the effects these pressures are having on the specific institutionalized relations which exist between French citizens and their culture, work, education, immigration and other facets of life and society. Taught by Jean Zoungrana (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 which examines globalization from a local and ethical standpoint.

- Course IV - Globalization: Myth and reality from a European perspective
This course draws on the foundations that students acquired during the preparatory session as a standpoint from which to broaden and deepen the examination of the world, and France and Europe’s place in it, keeping in mind the interplay among local, regional (EU), and global levels as well as the place of the nation-state. The course is structured along three main types of regards or focal lengths: an overall approach to globalization that studies the many different ways to divide – or join together – the world space; a closer look at the major elements of this space as seen from Europe; and finally a closer look at local/global interactions using European cases, including from Alsace. Concomitantly, a European humanist perspective is used to analyze from an ethics-and-justice point of view some of the important specific facets of globalization such as culture and identity; immigration, delocalization and work; interdependence and group identity; free trade and economic imbalance; agriculture; international civil society and governance; and others. Taught by Francis Grandhomme. (syllabus)

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