Paris: Social Sciences

Social Sciences students visited the Sainte-Chapelle on the île de la Cité, Paris
Early App Deadline: 
Monday, April 23, 2018
Final App Deadline: 
Monday, October 22, 2018
Language Requirement: 
Dana Currier

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.


Jennifer Cole (Comparative Human Development) – CHDV 22830/ANTH 22830 Migration and Multicultural France
Issues of migration, multicultural societies, and refugees have become increasingly important issues around the world, not least in France. On the one hand, since the French Revolution, France has been known as a place that not only welcomed refugees but where immigration and naturalization has been possible because of an emphasis on jus solis—that is the idea that one can gain citizenship not just through blood but through being born in a place or through legal procedures of naturalization. On the other hand, since the 1980s, immigration from the former French colonies has become a political flashpoint associated with the growing popularity of France’s far-right nationalist political party, the National Front. The recent crisis associated with the arrival of refugees from Syria has only fanned the flames of these deep-rooted tensions. In light of these issues, this course offers an introduction to the contemporary study of immigration. Throughout the course, we will pay particular attention to both the political, economic and social forces that have shaped French policies with respect to immigration and the concerns and experiences of migrants. In order to concretize these more abstract ideas, we will focus our lessons on the city of Paris, using it as a lens through which to think about how migrants have been simultaneously central to, and excluded from, the city. Course material will include a combination of theoretical texts, novels and movies in addition to several trips to sites around Paris.

Lisa Wedeen (Political Science) – PLSC 24716/ANTH 24715 The Arab Uprisings Seven Years Later: Change and Retrenchments in the Political Present
This course examines the reasons for and variations in the trajectories of the uprisings that shook the Middle East in 2011. At once theoretical and empirical, the class focuses on events in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Libya, and considers them in relation to prevailing social scientific theories of socio-political transformation and regime management. During the quarter, we shall cover themes such as the causes and connotations of “revolution”; the rise of new social movements in a neoliberal era; the politics of authoritarian retrenchment; the importance of digital publics to activism, social control, and the proliferation of “fake news”; popular culture and artistic practices (including humor) in the context of ongoing violence; the causes of civil war; the role of Islamic activism; generational conflict; and the ongoing effects of international intervention. Given France’s colonial legacy and its current position as home to Middle Easterners in exile, being in Paris offers an especially rich environment in which to study. Course materials will include not only scholarly writings but also television shows and films. We shall also take a few trips to sites around Paris, meet with Syrian artists and activists, and enjoy an extended excursion to a location outside of Paris. REQUIREMENTS: Students will attend every class and participate avidly in class discussions (20%). Students will also complete a short take-home midterm (30%) and a take-home final essay (50%).

Dingxin Zhao (Sociology) – SOCI #TBD Revolutions and Rebellions in Twentieth-Century China
Inspired by the French and Bolshevik Revolutions, the Chinese intelligentsia staged numerous revolutions and large-scale social movements during the twentieth century, including but not limited to the Republican Revolution of 1911, the May 4th Movement of 1919, the December 9th Movement between 1935 and 1936, the communist victory of 1949, the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976, and the 1989 Prodemocracy Movement. These historical events have brought fundamental changes to Chinese society from politics to everyday life. To understand modern China and its possible future development in this world of great uncertainty, we need to have a contextualized understanding of its past. Combining cutting-edge theories of contentious politics with rich historical accounts, and in a very nice French setting, this course analyzes the sociopolitical conditions leading to the rise of these revolutions and social movements and the impact of these revolutions on Chinese society. During the class, students will visit the streets where famous Chinese communists such as Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping lived immediately after World War One and discuss the enduring imprint of the French Revolution on the Chinese intelligentsia.

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 2017-18 year are listed below:

Winter tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

Study abroad administrative fee: $650

Paris Social Sciences program fee: $4,700


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
cell phone (device only) personal entertainment and travel
  communications (including cell phone usage)
emergency travel insurance (ISOS) 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 Dana Currier.

Learn more about the
Center in Paris.

What you’ll see: 

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