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May 11, 2004 Press Contact: William Harms
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University of Chicago opens Center in Paris to promote scholarly exchanges between French and American students and researchers

    Center in Paris website:

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The University of Chicago will inaugurate in Paris its first ever, University–wide foreign center in a series of gala events May 13 and 14 to be attended by University President Don Michael Randel; James Crown, Chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees; Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley; and more than 200 friends of the University. They will meet with members of the French Senate, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, and former French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, Senior Lecturer at the University.

The University of Chicago Center in Paris has a broader mandate for teaching and scholarship than other major U.S. university centers in France. It also is the first university center to be established there since the rise last year of French–U.S. political tensions over the U.S.–led intervention in Iraq.

Unlike other university programs in Paris that primarily provide language instruction to American undergraduates, the University of Chicago Center is unusual in that it will enroll students in courses in English, economics, political science, history, mathematics and computer science, in addition to offering French and civilization courses to Chicago undergraduate students.

The center, on the Left Bank near the National Library, is also unusual, as it will be the site for seminars for doctoral and post–doctoral students and other activities, such as colloquia, debates and conferences, open to researchers from France and elsewhere in Europe.

“At a time of political challenges, this ‘synergy of knowledge’ will be more important than ever before. It will benefit the University, our French colleagues, and —we hope— both nations,” Randel said.

“The University of Chicago has a long history of engagement with French culture and French intellectuals. This, the University’s first foreign university center, is proof of our close and growing ties. The students and faculty members who work here —both U.S. and French— will create a constant flow of intellectual engagement between Paris and Chicago,” Randel said.

Historian François Furet and philosopher Paul Ricoeur, both leading French intellectuals, have been faculty members at Chicago. Marc Fumaroli of the French Academy, a Professor in Romance Languages & Literaturs and the Committee on Social Thought, and Jean–Luc Marion of the Doctoral School, University of Paris IV (Sorbonne) a Professor of Philosophy, also are scholars of international stature who are current faculty members at the University. Laurent Fabius is a Visiting Senior Lecturer at the University’s Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, which has a joint initiative with the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Institute of Political Studies) in Paris for Ph.D. students at both institutions to work together in a transatlantic workshop.

In addition to the collaboration with the Institut d’Etudes Politiques, the University has cooperative agreements with the Ecole Normale Supérieure and several other universities including Paris IX (Dauphine), Paris IV (Sorbonne), and Paris VI (Pierre and Marie Curie).

Students of the University of Paris IX (Dauphine) also attend a summer economics institute at the University of Chicago, and in turn faculty members of the University of Paris IX teach University of Chicago students at the Paris Center. The two universities also are exploring the possibility of joint courses for students of both institutions to be taught in Paris.

The University also has a strong program in Chicago for students and scholars interested in France and French language studies. Since 2000, the number of courses offered at the University of Chicago in French, especially at the advanced level, is up 40 percent, counter to a national trend in the United States toward declines in enrollment in French at the University level.

“From our Project for American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language, to the founding of the Chicago Group on Modern France in 1991, to the creation of the Chicago France Center in 2000, French language and ideas have been a major focus of our work at Chicago,” said Robert Morrissey, the Benjamin Franklin Professor in Romance Languages and Literatures at the University and the center’s Executive Director.

“We decided several years ago to create a permanent home in Europe for our European programs, and we immediately recognized that there is simply no better location for such a center than Paris. Here, we find a synergy with other researchers and scholars, a rich cultural tradition, and a proud history of intellectual seriousness and discourse on the most important issues. Our decision to place the center here was obvious and easy, and we are delighted to be able to dedicate it here today.”

The Paris Center grows out of longstanding efforts in the Unviersity’s undergraduate College and Humanities Division to establish a deeper academic presence in Europe. During the 1990s, the European language and civilization programs for Chicago's students in these areas grew steadily. Working recently with Morrissey, Dean of the College John Boyer and Dean of Humanities Janel Mueller raised the support and funding to expand the existing programs into the full-fledged Center opening this week.

The University of Chicago is one of the world’s great intellectual communities. More than 70 Nobel Prize winners have been associated with the University as faculty members, students or researchers. The University has 2,100 faculty members and 13,000 students.

In addition to the new University–wide center in Paris, the University also offers programs for undergraduates in Rome, Vienna and other European capitals, as well as M.B.A. programs in Barcelona and Singapore through its Graduate School of Business.
Last modified at 09:44 AM CST on Tuesday, October 18, 2005.

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