France has a literary and intellectual tradition going back to the Middle Ages, and the study of French has always been an essential part of a liberal education. We cherish this tradition at the University of Connecticut. Our students learn about the rich literary heritage of the French and Francophone world alongside the major philosophical and political ideas that have shaped the Western world.
The French Language Program is designed to provide students with active proficiency in the four skills (speaking, listening reading and writing) and to introduce them to important features of French and Francophone history and culture. The Program’s teaching approach similar to those used at Middlebury and Dartmouth, seeking as much as possible to simulate immersion learning. Furthermore, it introduces modules in French and Francophone History, Culture and Society that will be extended in upper-level courses. The Language Program thus treats the learning of language as integral to the mastery of a range of disciplines, helping to prepare students to enter a variety of different professional fields, such as the health and biological sciences, international affairs, politics, anthropology, film studies, history, sociology, education and literature. It also introduces students to the practice of translation, international business and media.
The more ambitious students at the University of Connecticut pursue the serious study of a foreign language and culture while also specializing in a science, humanities, or social sciences concentration. In other words, they are double majors or even dual degree students. Our forward-looking French and Francophone Studies program has thus evolved to combine language skills with training in another field. We are just rolling out a new dual degree program in French and Engineering, that is slated to begin enrolling students in the fall of 2018. Our school of Business Administration sponsors an undergraduate program in Grenoble and a joint three-year MBA degree in International Business with the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce in Lyons.
Our Study Abroad Program in Paris is also an essential component of French and Francophone Studies at UCONN and, whether majors, minors or double–majors in French, students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to live and study in the French capital for either a semester or a year.
On the Storrs campus, we supplement the academic curriculum with meetings of a French Club, open to all students and faculty, where students see films, attend presentations on a variety of topics, and plan excursions to places like New York or Montreal. The Club organizes cultural activities and prepares a French dinner and an African dinner. Almost every year a French play is performed by the students, who receive academic credit for their involvement.
Every semester renowned French and Francophone writers are invited to read from their work and to meet with the students. In the past the French program has invited Annie Ernaux, Pierre Michon, Michel Houellebecq, Leïla Sebbar, and André Velter.
SITES, the only journal in the United States devoted exclusively to twentieth-century and contemporary French studies, is edited by two faculty in the French Program at UConn, Roger Célestin. A number of our graduate students have the opportunity to work as editorial assistants for the journal.