|May 12, 2004||
Press Contact: William Harms|
American students start exploring France
An immediate precaution: "The University of Chicago satellite that opened its doors in Paris in September is reserved for American students." Robert Morrissey, the director of this new center, is fully aware that in a context of increasing competition between large universities, France is notably concerned about the prospect of the United States installing itself in Europe and attracting its best students.
But to be honest, the philosophy of this project is quite different. It's rather a matter of providing American students access to the French and European culture: "We feel that in today's world, young Americans need to be introduced to other cultures," affirms Robert Morrissey. "Europe is the greatest political adventure of the 21st century and we've chosen Paris because nowhere else can you find such a concentration and clustering of knowledge," he adds in a perfect French. At a glance, the center's t-shirt, an indispensable accessory to every American university, says it all: "Alliance of taste and knowledge."
The fact that the University of Chicago would be at the epicenter of this adventure is no random occurence: "Our university has a long-standing and deep connection with France," says Michael Randel, the President of the University of Chicago, who made the trip for the center's inauguration along with the mayor of this large Illinois metropolis. The new buildings acquired by the university are situated in the up-and-coming neighborhood of the Bibliothèque François-Mitterand.
"We need intellectual exchanges like this, the world desperately needs to better understand each other," continues the President of the University. Is such a program an attempt to bridge the gap that has recently grown between these two countries? "The decision to install ourselves in Paris was made well before the conflict in Iraq began" asserts Robert Morrissey, but the objective of broadening international horizons is clear: "Only 10% of Americans have passports," recalls Michael Randel.
At the heart of the very francophile University of Chicago, this view towards France and Europe is evidently appreciated, given that almost a quarter of the students - an extraordinary proportion in the United States - learn French, and that since the opening of the center registration for French courses has increased by 40%.
The Paris Center offers two types of programs to its students: a year-long program in French that accommodates about 20 students each year in cooperation with certain universities and institutes in Paris; and three quarter-long programs aimed more or less at researchers. The idea is to maintain an enrollment of about 70 students in the various programs in Paris. Some of the students, as the Dean of the Humanities Division Janel Mueller stressed, will be charged with "representing their country as ambassadors."
Last modified at 04:40 PM CST on Monday, June 07, 2004.
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