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Studying Abroad, a "Hands On" Approach to Political Science
Unformatted Document Text:  officials and observers and analysts of political life permits students a look both at the inner workings of the political system and permits a diversity of views. Students can also open their minds to jobs in international politics or diplomacy. Numerous are the students who want to work for international institutions after coming out of discussions with European Union bureaucrats or economists at the OECD. Speaking with the “movers and shakers” both of the political and intellectual sphere also allows them to take advantage of a different view point on major issues (war, economics, society…) and to recognize certain ideas, phenomena or issues that they were previously unaware of. For more specific examples, political science instructors in our center have in recent months begun putting together a round table on the French “banlieues” (suburbs) that have been noticeably present in the international media do to the “riots” and car burning in 2005 and again in the past year. With legislative and presidential elections last year and municipal elections coming up in March, the role of young people, of diversity and of the banlieues has increased in politics. The stereotypes that can be propagated both in American and in French media have led us to bring together “banlieusards” of different backgrounds whom the students would not otherwise meet to discuss the social problems (unemployment, racism…) and political problems (abstention, non representation) that permeate these areas while demonstrating that the banlieues are also an important part of modern French society and that young people who come from there also go on to be students in prestigious institutions and on to successful careers in business, law, politics and art. These witnesses and observers such as sociologists and political scientists, of life in the suburbs allow us to round out the picture of the banlieues that we can give to the students. Moreover it permit our students to make comparisons between the situation in the French banlieues and the American “inner city”. In “demystifying” the banlieues we also try to encourage our students to debunk stereotypes about politics and society in France and in Europe such as the 35 hour work week, the social system… Classroom work is of course important to the curriculum but getting out of the classroom and into the “real” world is also an essential contribution of study abroad to the political curriculum. This can be both through local visits in the city students are studying in as well as longer study trips that take full advantage of the region or country as well. 5

Authors: Sheppard, Elizabeth.
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officials and observers and analysts of political life permits students a look both at the inner
workings of the political system and permits a diversity of views. Students can also open their
minds to jobs in international politics or diplomacy. Numerous are the students who want to
work for international institutions after coming out of discussions with European Union
bureaucrats or economists at the OECD. Speaking with the “movers and shakers” both of the
political and intellectual sphere also allows them to take advantage of a different view point
on major issues (war, economics, society…) and to recognize certain ideas, phenomena or
issues that they were previously unaware of.
For more specific examples, political science instructors in our center have in recent
months begun putting together a round table on the French “banlieues” (suburbs) that have
been noticeably present in the international media do to the “riots” and car burning in 2005
and again in the past year. With legislative and presidential elections last year and municipal
elections coming up in March, the role of young people, of diversity and of the banlieues has
increased in politics. The stereotypes that can be propagated both in American and in French
media have led us to bring together “banlieusards” of different backgrounds whom the
students would not otherwise meet to discuss the social problems (unemployment, racism…)
and political problems (abstention, non representation) that permeate these areas while
demonstrating that the banlieues are also an important part of modern French society and that
young people who come from there also go on to be students in prestigious institutions and on
to successful careers in business, law, politics and art. These witnesses and observers such as
sociologists and political scientists, of life in the suburbs allow us to round out the picture of
the banlieues that we can give to the students. Moreover it permit our students to make
comparisons between the situation in the French banlieues and the American “inner city”. In
“demystifying” the banlieues we also try to encourage our students to debunk stereotypes
about politics and society in France and in Europe such as the 35 hour work week, the social
system…
Classroom work is of course important to the curriculum but getting out of the
classroom and into the “real” world is also an essential contribution of study abroad to the
political curriculum. This can be both through local visits in the city students are studying in
as well as longer study trips that take full advantage of the region or country as well.
5


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