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French & Francophone majors engage critical issues through research abroad

This November we continue to celebrate our students’ work. Kudos to the following seniors who did sophisticated social science research through their classes and internships abroad:

During her internship in the spring of 2022, Millie Brigaud (’23) examined the sociopolitical role of Rue89 Strasbourg, an independent local media in Strasbourg, France.manif.jpg Through literature research and on-site interviews, she showed how Rue89 Strasbourg was critical in holding political and economic powers responsible; diversifying the local media landscape; sparking debates; providing citizens with the information necessary to participate in democracy; and focusing on the needs of the local community.

Inspired by a double internship, first at the cultural policy firm ENCATC and then at the Centre de Recherche en Science-Politique (CReSPO) at the Université Saint-Louis in Bruxelles, Belgium, logo-crespo-1.pngKatelyn Raffenbeul ('23) examined recent legislation and elementary school curricula to understand how citizenship can best be taught. By comparing educational methods adopted in France and the US, she was able to identify several factors that complicate this education, including a lack of emphasis on -- and therefore of funding for -- social science education as well as local political attitudes such as Eurosceptism or current debates over Critical Race Theory.

Lea Solomon (’23) took advantage of her internship to examine the role and effectiveness of talking (“parole”) within the services of URACA, a community health organization that serves the African migrant population in Paris, France. Used by URACA’s health professionals and their clients alike, verbal and artistic expression can promote good health and prevention services. It can help combat HIV stigmatization and LGBTQ+ discrimination; facilitate community building; alleviate stress; and ease emotional suffering.

During her internship and research in the archives of the university of Sciences Po in Paris, Mary Trimble (’23) studied how nationalism manifested itself between 1945 and 2015 in the language and imagery of French political tracts discussing the use of nuclear weapons and energy. nuclear.jpgDrawing on Michael Billig’s theory of “banal nationalism,” she ultimately argued that the power of national sentiment served as a mobilizing force even when it countered official government positions.

Projects such as these are typically written up as a 30+ pp. thesis (written bien sûr in French!). These four were produced under the auspices of our IFE Study Abroad and Internship program in Paris, Strasbourg, and Bruxelles. Students prepare for such research through intensive work in our classrooms on campus, our summer program in Montpellier, and course work attached to other semester-long study abroad experiences.