- 18 years of age or above
- Good academic and disciplinary standing at Penn State
- 3.10 cumulative GPA or better at the time of application review
- Sophomore standing or above at the start of the program
- Intermediate-High (ACTFL) French language proficiency
- Students should have completed coursework at the 300 or 400 level at the start of the program
- All students wishing to participate in the program will be interviewed by a member of the French department
The Institute for Field Education (IFE) provides students with a rigorous academic and cultural experiential learning opportunity. Students who participate in this French-speaking program choose from one of three locations (Brussels, Paris, or Strasbourg) where they enroll in classes and, participate in an internship or field experience at a host organization. While working side-by-side in an immersive French environment, students pursue a research question and prepare a 30-page research paper that explores their topic which they later present to the IFE staff and cohort. Students return from the program with the pride and valuable academic experience of having completed a robust research project, one that is likely to make a significant contribution to their overall intellectual development.
Each Field Study and Internship program takes place in both the fall and spring, over the course of an 18 week semester. The semester begins with 5 weeks of intensive interdisciplinary courses, followed by a 12-week full-time internship in the student’s field. As part of the internship, students conduct field research, delving into an issue and producing a 30-page independent study.
Students will choose one of three program locations:
Fall: late August - late December
Spring: late January - late May
Refer to the IFE's website for the specific dates for each program location linked above.
Reduced by misconception to a geo-juxtaposition of States or an experiment in economic community, ‘Europe’ as seen through Belgium takes on fuller meaning as a historical, cultural and political experiment in civilization as well as a rich potpourri of sub- and supra-national cultures. Belgium’s history at the heart of the rise of the nation-state, its place in the center of dense, urbanized Europe and it’s mosaic of languages and cultures make it a textbook on European society.
If Belgium is Europe-in-a-bottle, Brussels is – counter-intuitively perhaps – a great vantage point for expanding one’s ideas of European integration beyond Eurocrats pushing reams of paper. As a capital of Europe Brussels is a Hieronymus Bosch triptych of all that is happening at a European level: the myriad of initiatives, activist movements and soft lobbying campaigns in all areas on all issues whether cultural, social or political, carried out by European citizens.
Lastly, there’s Brussels the city. Youthful in population, a center of research and intellectual activity, suffused by an intense cultural life focused on contemporary creativity in all the arts, neighborhood-based but thoroughly globalized, Brussels is an exciting place to be while offering student-interns the fullest range of possibilities from IR research to literary promotion or neighborhood housing experiments.
If France is an exception in Europe, Paris is an exception in France. Paris is at once capital and counterpoint in a centralized State, self-identifying as different from “les provinces” while embodying much of what is so attractive and exasperating about French society. High-strung and fast-paced, Paris is a one-of-a-kind theater of the individual and the collective. A bastion of the Republic and a magnet for diversity, the city fascinates observers, confounds pundits and even its critics are not united. From the gilded ceilings of state ministries to the clamor of scooters, buses, delivery vans and bicycles vying for road space, Paris hums with a panoramic range of activities which offer many opportunities for interns to enter the stream of Parisian life.
Borders divide but may also unite. 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. The contemporary city is far more a center, and especially a crossroads of European cultures than is the borderland of France.
Home to international institutions, its two-culture heritage 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 actor in the building of European community at local, regional and trans-national levels.
Still, much of the attraction of Strasbourg — the only city in Europe besides Geneva to host international organizations while not a national capital -– stems from it’s being a lively French city. Strasbourg offers a broad and highly representative canvas of contemporary France, at the local level. If study abroad is really anthropology, this teeming, ethnically diverse city is an anthropologist’s dream for understanding the reality of life in France today. It’s also a great place to live: green, crisscrossed with waterways and bike paths, a leader for urban innovation, a center for the arts...
Alsace, France and Germany, Europe: an IFE field experience in Strasbourg is a chance to experience the layers of identity that make Strasbourg Strasbourg and Europe Europe.
Education Abroad in Countries with a Penn State Restricted Travel Designation
In order to comply with Penn State’s International Travel Policy, students interested in studying abroad in countries that Penn State has designated as “restricted” for travel, a petition for a waiver must be submitted. Once a petition is complete, and if the student is approved for study on the program in question, the student may be asked to meet with the Director of Education Abroad and the petition will be reviewed by the Penn State International Restricted Travel Committee (IRTC). The necessary petition will be included in the online application process for this program. To see if your program is taking place in a restricted travel country, please visit the Penn State Global website.