Paris: Social Sciences

Social Sciences students visited the Sainte-Chapelle on the île de la Cité, Paris
Early App Deadline: 
Monday, April 22, 2019
Final App Deadline: 
Monday, October 21, 2019
Language Requirement: 
Kylie Poulin

The University of Chicago’s Winter quarter Social Sciences program in Paris offers students in the College an opportunity to study the social sciences at the University of Chicago’s Center in Paris. This sequence is designed to engage students interested in the methods and research questions of the social sciences, broadly construed. Participants take three intensive, three-week courses, taught in sequence by University of Chicago faculty. While participants are not required to have previous knowledge of French, all students will take a course in “Practical French.” Apart from the coursework, the Social Sciences program is enhanced by excursions to sites of historical and cultural interest within and in the vicinity of Paris.


Leora Auslander (History) – The Politics of Memory in Modern France

Most of a nation’s past is forgotten. Unless a conscious effort is made to keep them in consciousness, even the events that seem momentous when they occur and the most heroic or villainous leaders fade from memory within a generation or two. Governments, organized groups, and individuals go to great lengths to rescue aspects of the past they consider important from the oblivion of time. They often make equal efforts to erase shameful events from the nation’s memory. What should be remembered and what forgotten is often contested, however, and there is no consensus concerning appropriate forms of, and audiences for, commemoration. How effective is commemoration through naming of a métro stop or a street? Do people actually see statues? Or do they just walk by them? Is it legitimate to shock passers-by with graphic representations of violence? And, does everyone see them with the same eyes? For example, does a monument commemorating Abolition have the same effect on the descendants of slaves and slave owners? These have been issues debated both by those seeking to preserve memory and scholars analyzing them. Our focus in this course will be on the commemorative sites both banal and monumental inscribed in the French landscape and the Parisian streetscape, including those celebrating national achievement, those mourning loss, and those grappling with shame. While reading the theoretical and empirical scholarship on commemoration, we will analyze a series of sites or events in French history.

The approach taken will be multidisciplinary; secondary readings will be drawn from anthropology, sociology and history. Our primary sources will largely be the sites we visit, although there are a few primary texts.

Alan Kolata (Anthropology) – Urban Worlds: The History, Ecology and Social Organization of Cities

“To think about the city is to hold and maintain its conflictual aspects: constraints and possibilities, peacefulness and violence, meetings and solitude, gatherings and separation, the trivial and the poetic, brutal functionalism and surprising improvisation.” —Henri Lefebvre

Just over a decade ago humankind passed a significant threshold: in 2008 more than 50% of the world’s population lived and worked in cities. The proportion of urban dwellers continues to accelerate. According to projections by the World Bank, rapid urbanization and the overall growth of the world’s population will add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050, with nearly 90 percent of that increase concentrated in Asia and Africa. Increasingly, to understand and to navigate the contemporary world requires deep familiarity with city life. This intensive undergraduate course explores the phenomenon of cities and city life from various historical, sociological and anthropological perspectives. The course analyzes major theoretical frameworks concerned with urban forms, institutions, economic structures and social experiences as well as particular instances of city life. We conclude with reflections on the future and fate of cities. Given our presence in one of the great cities of the world, we will focus particular attention on the history and urban experiences of Paris. The course will consist of brief orienting lectures, class discussion of selected texts concerned with urban phenomena and social theories of the city and final student presentations of their chosen urban ethnography/theory project.

Victor Lima (Economics) – Applied Price Theory: Individual and Family

In this class, we will study the “economic approach” to the non-market sector. We will begin with a review of the basic tools of economics and we will build up to the model of household production. We will use this model to study impulsive behavior, rational addiction, marriage and dating, fertility, religion, information and cascades. The purpose of the class is to introduce theoretical models and discuss applications.

Center in Paris

Headquarters for the College’s study abroad programs in Paris is the University of Chicago Center in Paris, the University’s research and teaching arm in Europe. Situated in the thirteenth arrondissement, the Center in Paris is part of an ambitious intellectual project along the river Seine, including the Bibliothèque Nationale and a new home for Université Denis Diderot (University of Paris VII). The Center in Paris features classrooms, offices for faculty and graduate students, computer facilities, a small library and an apartment for the faculty director. For participants in Chicago’s programs, the Center in Paris provides a focus for academic activities, a central meeting place and a continuing Chicago “presence” within one of the major capitals of Europe.


Students in the Social Sciences program are housed in a residence hall within the Cité Internationale Universitaire (Cité). The Cité, a park-like residential complex in the fourteenth arrondissement, is the international student campus in Paris, though French students also live there. Students reside in single rooms with a private bath and have access to Cité facilities, including a library, theater, laundry and athletic facilities. Students will have access to common kitchens in the residence halls and can purchase inexpensive meals at the Cité’s restaurant universitaire.

Credits and Registration

Participants in the Social Sciences program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They receive one credit for each of the four courses offered through the program. The non-language courses have been pre-approved for use in their respective majors. The use of any of these courses in another major is subject to the approval of the undergraduate chair of the respective department. International Studies majors may normally use these courses in any of the tracks but should consult with the IS program adviser regarding their individual needs. All courses are usable, without further approval, as free electives. The language course will normally count as an elective. Course titles, units of credit and grades are placed on the College transcript.

Please note that these courses may not be used to satisfy the general education social sciences requirement.


Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee and a non-refundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the non-refundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the Social Sciences program during the 2019-20 year are listed below:

Winter tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

Study abroad administrative fee: $675

Paris Social Sciences program fee: $4,900


Program fee includes: Out-of-pocket expenses include:
accommodation round-trip airfare to and from the program site
instruction transportation on site
student support meals
program excursions course materials
emergency travel insurance (ISOS) personal entertainment and travel
  communications (including cell phone usage)
  health insurance and upfront payments for care
  other miscellaneous expenses

Previous program participants report spending in the range of $200 to $250 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that the cost of living in Paris is relatively high and that, while it is possible to live frugally, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our Tuition, Fees, and Funding section. 

Eligibility and Application

The Social Sciences program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

The program is designed for undergraduates in good standing who are beyond their first year in the College. While the program stipulates no minimum grade-point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that they are a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity. Because the program courses (aside from the French class) are taught in English, there is no language prerequisite, although students are encouraged to take French on campus before the program begins.

Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record, personal statement and academic recommendation. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

Further Information

To discuss the Paris: Social Sciences program and the possibility of participating in it, please contact Kylie Poulin.

Learn more about the
Center in Paris.

What you’ll see: 

Photo of Louvre interiorSocial Sciences students visited the Sainte-Chapelle on the île de la Cité, ParisPhoto of Social Sciences group at European Parliament in Brussels, Winter 2015