Lang Goes to Paris
Despite the fact that Lang has yet to receive full funding, the college is pushing forward with a new partnership with the American University of Paris.
It’s been less than a year since Lang Dean Neil Gordon first met Celeste Schenck, AUP president. However, in that relatively short time they developed a partnership, encouraged by a failed attempt at a similar one between AUP and New York University that terminated in 2009.
“Both sides did not share the same vision of international education,” Schenck said in an interview on campus after a February 22 information session that introduced plans for the new Lang-AUP partnership. However, Schenck believes that the match in size and institutional goals between Lang and AUP will help avoid any similar issues in the new venture.
Gordon said Lang and AUP resemble each other. Beyond size, they are similar in student-teacher ratios, class sizes, seminar classrooms, and core liberal arts values. AUP, like Lang, lacks a typical campus. Gordon said, “we both try as much as possible to treat the cities as our campus.”
The new program will start this fall, and it is available to all Lang students. Financial aid is transferable. It goes beyond a traditional study abroad program, because both universities hope to exchange an equal number of students and to facilitate greater fulfillment and expansion of students’ degrees.
“We wanted to design ways in which we could articulate the curriculum between our majors so that you [students] could fulfill the requirements of your majors in Paris,” Gordon said.
So far, there are plans for three complimentary programs—urban studies/international cities, culture and media/global communications, and literary studies/global literature. Schenck and Gordon hope to develop similar programs in all divisions. For now, possibilities include psychology, history, and art history, along with AUP’s expanding programs in sustainability and the arts.
“For the moment we’re going to start by having students do a portion of their degree on the other campus, but we would love to investigate and could imagine in years to come actual joint degrees,” Schenck said.
Lang senior Rachel Kieffer was not so lucky in her Paris exchange last semester at the Sorbonne. She found classes inhospitable—large lectures with students of varying language ability. This experience left Kieffer feeling detracted from the quality of the learning environment.
“I hope the partnership will be helpful,” Kieffer said. “Specifically for Lang students to take small and interactive classes we are used to taking.” She also hoped that the joint program will help students to engage with one another outside class, something “not at all encouraged at the Sorbonne.”
At AUP, classes are taught in English, so Lang students with any level of French can go abroad. Intensive language courses are offered based on placement though, and homestays are available for students with special interest in developing French language abilities.