Paris: a Living Textbook

Bridge in Paris

French Language and Culture Through Service Learning

During your stay, we will:

  • Read and discuss French newspapers/contemporary literature in order to understand social issues
  • Connect with and serve community members
  • Complete a service project
  • Maintain a journal in French
  • Research and present a final project

Paris: A Living Textbook is a unique three-week summer educational program designed to immerse participants in French language and culture through thematic projects and engagement in service learning in Paris, famed City of Light.

In-class instruction in the mornings will be complemented by service activity in the afternoons. You will work side by side with French social services professionals as you interact with a variety of populations, from children and seniors to immigrants and refugees.

During your stay, you will develop a growing understanding of the many cultural layers of contemporary France, and glean an intimation of what it means to be an active, engaged global citizen.

Through talks and workshops offered by your professors and specialists, you will examine contemporary and historical trends in French literature, art, current events, pop culture and politics. Professors Thierry Gustave and Pratima Prasad will schedule regular meetings to allow you to share and reflect on your experiences and they will work with each student on the design of a final project to be presented to the group at the program’s conclusion.

The program will have no more than twenty participants and is designed to accommodate two levels of proficiency:

  1. intermediate/découverte; and
  2. intermediate-advanced/exploration

Service learning placements will be placed based on your language level and interests.

Supervised studies take place once a week based on your service-learning project. Students should expect to spend 3 hours in morning classes and 3 hours engaged in service learning activities in the afternoons, Monday – Fridays. Students will have free time and the opportunity to explore Paris on weekends; faculty will provide suggestions for activities.

Academic Courses and Credit

MDNLNG 390, 3 credits

As a globalized city with a complex history and culture, Paris offers an important window into social and cultural trends. MDNLNG 390 integrates learning through service learning in Paris and its surroundings. The study of society through civic engagement will give students an insight into a wide array of cultural, political, and economic issues facing Paris as a city, and France more broadly. Students will be assessed based on journal entries and daily in-class discussions that engage with their service in Paris, as well as their final project, which will also be based on their service learning across sites in the city.

The course will be taught entirely in French.

FRENCH 490, 3 credits

FRENCH 490 will promote and foster discussions - individual oral presentations, exchanges with a partner or small group, debates and full-class discussions - based on authentic documents representing diverse aspects of French and francophone culture. This course will promote a multidisciplinary approach and will integrate current events, Francophone literature and culture. This course will provide students the opportunity for growth in language proficiency (reading/writing/listening/speaking) as well as in the cultural awareness of the French and francophone world.

Class will be conducted in French.

Graduate level credit is possible by special arrangement. Applicants interested in graduate credit must obtain permission before registering for the program. A non-credit option is possible, but priority is assigned to students taking the program for credit.

Who Can Apply?

Participants must demonstrate at least an intermediate level of proficiency in French. Students from the University of Massachusetts Boston and other colleges and universities, school educators, and anyone with a serious interest in French language and culture are welcome to apply. Acceptance into the program will be on a space available basis.

The Faculty

Pratima Prasad, PhD
Professor Prasad has taught classes at all levels of the French program, including introductory and intermediate language courses, literature, and French and francophone cinema. In her research, she explores the relationship between literature and French colonialism.

Thierry Gustave, PhD
Professor Thierry Gustave has taught classes at all levels of the French program, including introductory and intermediate language courses, literature, and French and francophone pop culture and service learning.

Professor Gustave is an expert in international service learning and has created civic programs in high schools and at the university level.


Please be advised that international programs are subject to change, slight or major, at any time due to circumstances beyond our control; this includes any and all fees, dates, itinerary, and program activities. We will do our best to inform all applicants of any changes in as timely a manner as possible.

Schedule and Fee

Program runs:
July 2 - July 23, 2016

$3,999* A surcharge will apply for a group with fewer than 15 participants.

Note: The program fee will include lodging, ground transportation for classes and activities, museum entrance costs, and some group meals. The fee does not include most meals, books, or RT transportation between the US and France.

* Price is subject to change.

To Apply

Application Deadline:
April 1, 2016

ยป Download Application [pdf]

Early application is highly recommended. Applications received after the deadline will be considered if space is available.

American citizens need a valid passport only; no visa required. International students should consult the French Consulate for specific visa requirements.

Request Information

For more information, please contact:

Jennifer Goode-Sollis

For academic information, please contact:

Thierry Gustave