Programs : Brochure
IFE - The Strasbourg Field Study and Internship Program (Outgoing Program)
- Locations: Strasbourg, France
- Program Terms: Fall, Spring
- Homepage: Click to visit
- Program Sponsor: IFE - French Field Study & Internship Programs
Lining one side of the River Rhine, the ancient and modern city of Strasbourg, capital of Alsace, has known all the roles of a boundary land, and the contemporary city is far more a center, and especially a crossroads, than it is border.
Home to international institutions, it is the most popular international convention destination in France after Paris. Its two-culture heritage is alive and well; as the intersection of the EU’s two most powerful member-States, Strasbourg stands as a symbol of reconciliation. Along with Alsace, it is an important actor European construction at local, regional, and trans-national levels.
A good deal of the attraction of Strasbourg for an IFE program comes from the fact that it is also a lively French city. Strasbourg offers a broad, grassroots canvas of contemporary France, beyond the confines of Paris. To the extent that all study abroad is anthropology, this teeming, ethnically diverse city is an anthropologist’s dream for seizing the reality of life in France today.
Strasbourg, Alsace, France, Germany, Europe... the future takes a different form where multiple identities are the daily as well as the historical reality.
The Field Study and Internship model uses participation in the professional workplace of another society for language perfecting, inter-cultural learning, and acquiring comparative knowledge in a specific field.
IFE works individually with each student to identify a placement and research strategy that meets his or her academic and career goals.
The four principal elements of the success of this model are: thorough classroom preparation; topic-specific placement; guided independent field research; individualized accompaniment, follow-up, and advising.
All organizations which host IFE interns understand several key points:
This is a trans-cultural experience for both parties.
An IFE student is well prepared in general for the internship and will be ready to take on some responsibility after a short period of adaptation.
The student intern is to be included as part of a working team, interacting on a regular basis with other members of the team.
Hosting an intern requires a commitment of time and space to make sure the internship is a structured learning experience.
At the core of the IFE model, the placement strategy for each enrolled student is put into place by IFE and the admitted student several months upstream of the start date of the program. The process begins with the “placement form” filed as part of the application for admission. This form provides applicants an opportunity to delineate what they hope to gain from the IFE Field Study and Internship semester as well as to describe their relevant background, skills and any other ideas they
may have for the internship (such as type of organization).
This approach is the core of IFE programs. In any semester, as many as one-third of IFE students hold internships that have been arranged by IFE for the first time, despite scores of host organizations already known to IFE — but not appropriate for specific student projects.
No two student interns are exactly alike, and IFE works with a broad variety of organization types to ensure a good fit between an intern and the work environment. Government ministries, agencies, not-for-profits, schools, research centers, foundations, corporations, cultural institutions, laboratories, NGO’s, small firms and partnerships, media organizations, are some of the organizational categories in which IFE student interns go to work.
Why an intensive preparation before the internship begins?
To enable students to take the step across the line that separates observers from participants, the IFE model begins with five weeks of classroom training, a mix of lectures and workshops combined with site visits. The IFE preparatory sessions provide students with an in-depth introduction to the local setting and culture that will be their milieu for living, working and studying during eighteen weeks.
How does the preparation work?
The pedagogical approach practiced in all three cities mixes lectures with small- group workshop classes for discussion, debate, press review, oral presentation, site visits and lecture/visits. In this way a balance is struck between needed new material on one hand and, on the other hand, a chance to work with new facts and concepts, in French, applying them to a reading of current events.
All instruction in all three programs is solely in French. French is the only language spoken during the preparatory session in class and outside of class while present on IFE’s premises in the three cities.
What is the content of the preparatory session?
Preparing students to participate in Strasbourg and Alsace
In the Strasbourg program the five-week preparatory session is a triptych constructed to provide students a solid understanding of the constitutive elements of French society in the specific context of Strasbourg and Alsace, while also treating the issues and problems faced at local and regional as well as national levels.
The European context, which determines a good deal at these various levels, is integral to the content of the preparatory session.
The three courses comprising the preparatory session treat, respectively:
The fundamental political institutions of French life as they arose historically;
France’s situation in Europe and internationally;
Social realities in France today.
All three courses - and especially the first and third - make abundant reference to the realities of Alsace and Strasbourg.
As a result of this preparation students become interns ready to take their place, and take part in the work of their host organization.
Course I - A Political History of France: Transformations in the state and political life since Napoleon
This course is designed to provide students with several important keys to understanding France today, chief among them being the development of the French notion of the State as well as changes in this central concept over time. Taking a historical and political approach, the course demonstrates how the notion of the State has structured and continues to structure French political life and French society, even as it is undergoing transformation as a result of pressure from new forms of integration, from Europe, from forced changes in the French model of the welfare State, etc. Taught by Thérèse Krempp.
Course II - France in Europe and the World
This course provides students with fundamental keys to understanding France today in terms of its colonial past, its real and perceived role on the world stage, and the several versions of the question of decline that currently color the French outlook. Its successful adaptation in the face of the upheavals of the 20th century, its transformation into an industrial power, and its leadership role in establishing a peaceful Europe have, in turn, led to further challenges and questions of French identity. These include the question of nation and European community, the notion of State in a modern context, and others. Domestic and foreign policies overlap and interact. This course uses France’s place in Europe and the world to lead students to an understanding of the new political and social makeup of France that is slowly emerging, a source of both doubt and hope. Taught by Birte Wassenberg.
Course III - French Society: Problems and prospects
The key to understanding contemporary French society that is provided to students by this course lies in grasping the paradox between the democratic ideal that is at the foundation of all the institutions of modern, post-revolutionary France on one hand and, on the other, the current crisis of those institutions – and even of deep societal values – which is provoked by the pressures of global economic liberalism and the transformations taking place in Europe and in its Union. Through this course students become familiar with the effects these pressures are having on the specific institutionalized relations which exist between French citizens and their culture, work, education, immigration and other facets of life and society. Taught by Jean Zoungrana.
It is during the internship period that students work individually with their research advisor to delineate a research topic, set an outline, define sources, and produce the independent study field research project.
At the end of the first five weeks of the program, students are much more confident in spoken French and boast a solid familiarity with local issues, concepts, historical foundations, and actors. They are now informed observers, ready to become informed participants.
And competent readers of the daily papers!
access to local actors in social, political and cultural affairs;
bilingualism (and trans-border activities) for students speaking some German as well;
the European institutional framework and the many European-focused organizations headquartered in Strasbourg;
the administrative life of a French region as accessible in the regional capital;
other aspects as well depending on a student’s field (for example, medieval architecture).
The extensive independent study field research paper produced by the student is both the centerpiece of the intern’s professional engagement and the culmination of the academic achievements of the semester.
During the preparatory session IFE teaches the methodogical guidelines and principle to which students are expected to adhere in the development of their written research.
Students work individually with a research advisor from their field. The first task is to identify a topic, following guidelines established by IFE for research topic choice. The subject must be tied in a useful and complementary way to the student-intern’s responsibilities, as well as to the core concerns of the host organization. The research question should be designed to draw as much as possible on resources available to the intern via the internship (data, documents, interviews, observations, seminars and the like).
Students begin to focus on this project after the first 2-3 weeks on the internship. Each internship agreement signed with an organization makes explicit mention of this program requirement, and this is the culminating element of their semester. Once the topic is identified, students meet individually, as regularly as they wish, with their IFE research advisor to generate a research question from the topic, develop an outline, identify sources and research methods, and discuss drafts submitted by the student.
The research advisor also helps students prepare for the oral defense (soutenance) of their work which takes place a month before the end of the program and the due date of the paper. The purpose of this exercise is to help students evaluate their progress and diagnose the weak points in their outline and arguments.
Rather than an extraneous burden added to the intern’s other duties, the field research project grows out of the internship through a useful and rewarding synergy of internship and research.
The Field Study and Internship model results in well-trained student-interns fully engaged in mission-driven internships in their field, while exploring a critical problem guided by an experienced research advisor.