Over Under Paris

Maya Castro of FIU at Centre Pompidou
Maya Castro of FIU at Centre Pompidou (Photo: JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

FIU HONORS COLLEGE
FRANCE STUDY ABROAD: ART, WAR, AND HUMAN RIGHTS

FACULTY
John William Bailly ■ baillyj@fiu.edu ■ 305.348.4100 ■ Office Hours by appointment

METRO DE PARIS
The Métro de Paris has 14 major lines, with 300 different stations. Inaugurated in 1900, it transports 4.5 million passengers a day, for an annual total of 1.5 billion. The lines form a spider web design that spiral out from Châtelet – Les Halles, the largest underground station in the world.

The demographics of the Métro are arguably its most compelling aspect. Parisians and visitors of all classes, nationalities, ethnicities, religions, races, incomes, educational levels, ages, and gender ride the Métro. It is perhaps one of the most integrated environments in the world. That being true, it also reveals deep divides. Every line and every station has its own unique identity.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION
This project will offer students a uniquely structured exploration of Paris. Over Under Paris is an interdisciplinary investigation of the people, neighborhoods, government, culture and history of the French capital. While providing certain required guidelines, the project is structured in an open manner that enables student participants to emphasize their respective disciplinary interests.

It is the students’ mission to investigate, discover and document Paris by way of the Métro as it navigates over and under Paris.

STRUCTURE
Students will form groups of 3 to 4 students. Each group will be assigned one Parisian Métro ligne. Over the course of the class’ month stay in Paris, student groups must explore and document their respective ligne.

The nature of student reflection must be broad and profound, and not exclusively personal. Students should address connections in society and culture across time. This project should not be a diary. Research must be rigorous.

Although exploration is done in groups, projects are individual.

FORMAT
Students must create a webpage with text and images and/or videos. The research must be thorough. The webpage must be public. Students can use any number of free web hosting services.

The text of the project must also be submitted as a Word document to turnitin.com

CITATIONS
All research must be properly cited: text, photos, and videos. If you look at it, cite it.

Similar to a research paper, all sources must be cited for an artwork, photograph, or film. If you utilize an existing image for inspiration or incorporate clips or pictures from someone else, you cite those source. Failure to do is plagiarism.

GRADING CRITERIA
These following factors will be considered in determining the project grade.

Research! Knowledge of subject
Engagement with Big Ideas (do not shy away from controversial subjects)
The nature of the connection between student and subject
The broader context of the student’s reflection (Can others relate to the points made in the project)
Originality of content
Effort

DESTINATIONS
Métro de Paris
Ligne 1: La Défense ↔ Château de Vincennes
Ligne 2: Porte Dauphine ↔ Nation
Ligne 4: Porte de Clignancourt ↔ Porte d’Orléans
Ligne 6: Charles de Gaulle ↔ Étoile to Nation
Ligne 7: La Courneuve ↔ 8 Mai 1945 to Mairie d’Ivry or Villejuif — Louis Aragon
Ligne 12: Porte de la Chapelle ↔ Mairie d’Issy

QUESTIONS
Engage the big ideas of the class. What can you learn/observe about Human Rights as you explore Paris?

CITY AS TEXT STRATEGIES
Machonis, Peter A., ed. Shatter the Glassy Stare: Implementing Experiential Learning in Higher Education. Birmingham, AL: NCHC, 2008. ISBN 978-0-9796659-2-9

“As an experiential-learning method, CAT makes students step outside their conventional classroom paradigms, and at no time is it easier to do this than when they are experiencing an alienation from what they know. Outside their ordinary habits of thought, the students respond to the call to figure things out for themselves, using the tools of mapping, listening, and observing.” – Joy Ochs

Excerpt from Shatter the Glassy Stare

Strategies: Mapping, Observing, Listening, Reflecting

City as Text™ methodology is based on the concept of active or experiential learning. Participants are split up into small groups with an assigned area of the city/place to explore. They report back for a general discussion at the end of their walkabout and exchange their insights with others who have explored other areas of the same city. The idea is that the sum of everyone’s experience is a better view than just one person or one group doing the same exercise.

There are four basic strategies used in these exercises: mapping, observing, listening, and reflecting.

Mapping: You will want to be able to construct, during and after your explorations, the primary kinds of buildings, points of interest, centers of activity, and transportation routes (by foot, vehicle, or other means). You will want to look for patterns of housing, “traffic” flow, and social activity that may not be apparent on any traditional “map.” Where do people go, how do they get there, and what do they do when they get there?

Observing: You will want to look carefully for the unexpected as well as the expected, for the familiar as well as the new. You will want to notice details of architecture, landscaping, social gathering, clothing, possessions, decoration, signage, and advertising.

Listening: You will want to talk to as many people as you can and to find out from them what matters to them in their daily lives, what they need, what they enjoy, what bothers them, what they appreciate. Strike up conversations everywhere you go. Ask about such matters as: how expensive it is to live there (dropping by a real estate agency could be enlightening), where to find a cheap meal (or a good one or an expensive one), what the local politics are (try to find a local newspaper), what the history of the place is, what the population is like (age, race, class, profession, etc.), what people do to have a good time. In other words, imagine that you are moving to that location and try to find out everything you would need to learn to survive there.

Reflecting: Throughout your explorations, keep in mind that the people you meet, the buildings in which they live and work, the forms of their recreation, their modes of transportation—everything that they are and do—are important components of the environment. They are part of an ecological niche. You want to discover their particular roles in this ecology: how they use it, contribute to it, damage or improve it, and change it. You want to discover not only how, but why they do what they do. Don’t settle for easy answers. Don’t assume you know the answers without doing serious research. Like all good researchers, make sure you are conscious of your own biases and that you investigate them as thoroughly as you investigate the culture you are studying.

EXAMPLES OF STUDENT WORK
Stephanie Sepúlveda’s “Voi Siete Qui”: Stephanie Sepulveda’s Grand Tour Redux project is a model of what a successful project should be. Stephanie’s reflections are personal yet universal and do not shy away from the big ideas and tough questions. Her scope is also interdisciplinary in nature.
Allison Vargas’ “Aspects of Freedom”: Allison Vargas’ Miami España project is an in-depth honest reflection on the cultural contrasts and commonalities of Miami and Spain. Allison discusses religion, sexuality,  and just about everything that can make one uncomfortable-nothing is too controversial.

AUTHOR(S) AND LAST UPDATE
Stephanie Sepúlveda & John William Bailly  01 May 2018
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