The University will offer its first civilization studies program conducted entirely in a foreign language next autumn. The new European Civilization program will begin in conjunction with the opening of the University's Paris Center.
"With this new center, it means new things are possible that weren't possible before. This new European Civ in French is such an initiative," said Lewis Fortner, the academic director of study abroad programs.
There is currently an intermediate French language program in Paris in the fall and a European Civilization Studies program in the spring. This new program serves to combine them.
The program will be very similar to other civilization studies abroad. Students will study three quarters' worth of European Civilization and an advanced French language class.
Students will reside at the Cité Universitair, the same international student campus where U of C students in the current Paris civilization program live, and should attend classes in the new center, pending its timely completion.
Applicants are required to have taken or tested out of at least two years of college French.
"There is an adaptation of the course to take into account that people are taking on a new language," said Robert Morrissey, a professor in the department of Romance languages and literature and the chair of the faculty committee that overseas the Paris center.
"Inevitably, the reading list will be abridged," Fortner said.
The course material will also be slightly more focused on France than other European civilization programs. Morrissey said that the program "will not be exclusively devoted to France, but we do take into account the French perspective."
In addition, the program will be fairly adaptable to students' academic needs.
Morrissey said that the civilization classes can be counted as a civilization sequence, towards a Romance language concentration, or a combination of the two. While this is still in the planning process, there is also the possibility that other departments might give various credits for the program as well.
Students seem to be enthusiastic about the idea.
"I wanted a civ program to be in the language of the country I'm studying in," said Orlando Tregear, a second-year in the College interested in the new program. "You're getting to explore Paris, but you're also getting immersed in the culture, the language."
It is this aspect of merging language and history that is so appealing to Morrissey as well.
According to Morrissey, the program will try to use Paris with all of its resources, including the theater and art. "You can really get into the culture in a way you never could," he said.
"Certainly it's a bold experiment, and if it's successful, it will be a perennial offering," Fortner said.
With student interest in the University's programs in France peaking last year and with the completion of the Paris Center drawing near, the administration is hoping that the program will be well-received by students.
"This is the perfect time to really try this new program. It's now or never," Morrissey said.