Uncertain as our times may be, the 2020-21 academic year will be intellectually vibrant at the IFS. Our foundations will remain in place: wide-ranging courses in history, sociology, politics, anthropology, race studies, gender studies, public humanities, and art history; open-ended discussion, cutting-edge research, a supportive community. Still, our collective life must be rethought in light of the pandemic. We will do so according to the following principles:
1. Health precautions. NYU will soon share a comprehensive framework ensuring maximum safety for students, staff, and faculty. This will include social distancing, use of masks, and limits on building occupancy. No student will be obliged to be present in person this fall.
2. Intellectual rigor. Students will, as usual, take courses in French and in English; many will include sustained research components. Our visiting professors (historians Craig Lanier Allen and Alexandra Bacopoulos-Viau, political scientist Choukri Hmed, and sociologist Christelle Avril) will introduce students to cutting-edge research from France. We fully expect to hold our summer 2021 session in Paris, with at least four courses, taught by NYU faculty, art historian Charlotte Foucher Zarmanian, and political scientist Silyane Larcher.
3. Critical attention to our present moment. The historical events of 2020 require collective analysis. Our courses on health care, migration and asylum, and Black women, feminism, and French nation-building will provide essential analytical tools. So will two other courses: one on Covid-19 and French society, the other on the politics of disasters.
4. Pedagogical flexibility. Some students will be in New York this fall and others not; some will wish to attend courses in person, others may prefer remote instruction. For this reason, most of our courses will be taught in a hybrid mode, with some students in the classroom and others joining remotely (there may be a rotation). Depending on the sanitary situation and the availability of visas, one or more visiting professors may teach remotely. All faculty will devise open-ended, varied modes of teaching, both synchronous and asynchronous: small cohorts within each course, one-on-one meetings, conversations with outside speakers, and assignments of different lengths and formats. It will be possible for students to take all courses remotely if they so wish.
5. Intellectual community. The IFS is a tight-knit community, enriched by informal exchanges outside the classroom and an expansive series of intellectual events. We are taking several steps to strengthen this essential facet of our program:
* Each M.A. student will be paired with a faculty adviser before the summer. Students and advisers will meet throughout the year.
* Each M.A. student will join a small colloquium that will meet every other week, with a faculty member, to discuss academic, social, and pre-professional questions.
* Ph.D. students will be available to mentor M.A. students
* Students and faculty will reinvent our weekly Tuesday workshops as opportunities for engagement and active learning.
* As usual, although offered remotely next academic year, we will organize a rich program of talks and roundtables with scholars, journalists and social justice activists from France and the U.S. Turning the constraint of virtual meetings into an advantage, we will bring thinkers from France and the francophone world into conversation with U.S.-based peers to help us understand our current moment of dramatic cultural, social and political transformation.
Professor of French, French Studies, and History; Director, Institute of French Studies, NYU