Alumni CLASnotes Winter 2003-2004

CLAS Develops Paris Research Center

Paris Research CenterThe University of Florida now has a strong research presence in Paris, France, thanks to the creation of the new Paris Research Center. Located at Columbia University's Reid Hall building in Paris, the Paris Research Center (PRC) offers UF scholars an international home office for communications and consultation, meeting and classroom space, and limited office space for program directors and scholars-in-residence.

Gayle Zachmann, an associate professor of French, conceived the idea to develop the center and serves as its director. She notes this is an unprecedented step in internationalizing the curriculum. "UF is one of, if not the only, university to have an overseas research center of this scope at Reid Hall," she says. "The PRC should prove a significant asset to UF's efforts to recruit faculty and graduate students of the highest distinction."

UF recently established membership with Reid Hall, which has a distinguished past of intellectual, artistic and cultural activity dating back to the 19th century. In 1964, the building was bequeathed to Columbia University, which runs undergraduate and graduate programs at the site, and recently inaugurated the international Institute for Scholars. Other Reid Hall members and international programs include, Dartmouth College, Smith College and Tulane University.

UF's PRC was established thanks to the enthusiastic support of the Office of the Provost, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the UF International Center. The center is designed to welcome researchers from all disciplines. It is ideal for scholars and students in the humanities, fine arts and social sciences, as well as those from areas as diverse as European Union studies, business, architecture, environmental and biomedical research. The PRC offers meeting and classroom space, as well as an administrative home base for faculty members who wish to use Paris and its surrounding regions as their classrooms. "One of the PRC's goals is to facilitate faculty and graduate research abroad, providing opportunities for the development of workshops in Paris, and developing summer and semester study abroad programs in France and the European Union," says Zachmann.

One of the first faculty members to take advantage of the PRC was Physics Professor Jim Dufty, who worked with Zachmann to organize an international conference on granular fluids in November at the PRC. Political Science Professor Richard Conley also utilized the center in fall 2002 while he was on research leave in Paris as a scholar-in-residence at the Centre Américain de Sciences-Po. In addition to using the PRC's office and research facilities, Conley developed a unique undergraduate capstone course being taught this spring. "This capstone experience offers students the exceptional opportunity to visit political institutions and historical museums in Paris, attend lectures by French and European scholars of political science and history, and visit World War II battlefields in Normandy," Conley says.

This summer, Associate Professor of History Sheryl Kroen will combine her research and teaching interests into a course about the rise of consumer culture in France since the 18th century. "What could be a better site for this teaching experience than Paris--the capital of world fashion, the birthplace of the department store, modern retailing and advertising, and the source of some of the most important critical writings on consumer culture," asks Kroen.

In addition to the capstone courses, Zachmann is working to create a semester business program with the Warrington College of Business Administration and hopes to encourage faculty from across campus to design discipline-specific study abroad programs based at the PRC. "The enthusiastic response from the administration, faculty and students has been simply extraordinary," says Zachmann. "We are striving to create overseas programs and activities of the highest caliber."

--Allyson A. Beutke

Gayle Zachmann

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