Paris (and Beyond): Migration, Colonization, and Diaspora Civilization

The group poses for a photo at the Château des ducs de Bretagne and Musée d’histoire de Nantes.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Michaela Foreman

Application Deadline:


Please note: Offered in alternating years. Following the Autumn 2024 program, the next program will run in Autumn 2026.

The College’s Migration, Colonization, and Diaspora in Paris program is a three-course sequence that fulfills the Core’s Civilization requirement. It is taught in English. Program participants also take a French language course, which runs at a normal pace through the quarter and is designed to help students connect with French (and Parisian) culture.

    This sequence is designed to give students the historical context for understanding contemporary debates on postcolonial immigration and multiculturalism as well conceptual frameworks for analyzing issues of race, otherness, and the legacies of the colonial encounter—in France and elsewhere. We will explore the histories, definitions, and connotations of “Frenchness,” as well as consider how colonized peoples have helped to create those meanings. However, this course will not simply treat the inhabitants of former French colonies as a window onto France. We will also investigate how various colonized peoples directed, shaped and contributed to the worlds in which they lived, and how they actively made and maintained relations with other peoples, such as the French. Those processes and interchanges, as we will learn, often produced unintended consequences, with which both the inhabitants of France and the inhabitants of the former French empire continue to grapple today. Our goal is for students to emerge from the class with a better understanding of the legacies of French imperialism, and of the history and theories that animate contemporary debates on multicultural France. Students will have an opportunity to learn about Paris beyond its standard hallmarks—the museums and sites that are the mainstay of typical tourist guides—to explore the ways in which France’s former empire and its peoples has made and remade the city.

    Overall, the course proceeds through a combination of general theoretical texts and case studies and also makes ample use of novels, poems, and films. The precise case studies and areas of the world we engage will vary from year to year. In Autumn, 2024, the course content will largely focus the legacy of France’s colonial empire in Africa, North Africa, and the Caribbean.

    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 Paris Cité. 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 Paris: Migration, Colonization, and Diaspora Civilization 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.

    It is important to recognize the cultural context of student housing in France and understand that the amenities of dormitory facilities may vary. Although some of these differences may take some getting used to, remember that cultural differences extend to all aspects of your experience abroad. Having realistic expectations for your term in Paris will help you approach the study abroad experience with a positive attitude.

    Participants in the Paris: Migration, Colonization, and Diaspora Civilization program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They take and receive credit for four courses: the three courses in the civilization sequence and the French language class. The civilization sequence meets the College’s civilization requirement. Students who have already met this requirement may use these courses as electives. Their use, partial or total, in a program of study (major) must be approved by the undergraduate chair of the respective department. The language course will normally count as an elective. Course titles, units of credit, and grades are placed on the College transcript.

    Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee, and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the Migration, Colonization, and Diaspora Civilization in Paris program during the 2024–2025 year are listed below:

    Autumn tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Paris: Migration, Colonization, and Diaspora Civilization program fee: $5,960

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • passport/visa fees
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • 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.

    The Paris: Migration, Colonization, and Diaspora Civilization 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 academic and disciplinary 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 civilization sequence is taught in English, there is no language prerequisite, although students are encouraged to take French on campus before the program begins.

    Because of the considerable demand for the Chicago civilization programs abroad, no student may participate in more than one of these programs. Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the Paris: Migration, Colonization, and Diaspora Civilization program and the possibility of participating, please contact Michaela Foreman.