French and anthropology class on diplomacy to travel to Europe

Jennifer Katz

On Monday, September 19, students gathered in Markim Hall for an informational meeting about “The Language of Diplomacy,” a course being offered in the spring of 2017. Why such early interest in this course? Accompanying the class is an optional two-week trip to Europe with stops in the Hague, Geneva, Marseille and Paris.

Professors Juliette Rogers of the French department and Dianna Shandy of the anthropology department will be co-teaching the course, which is cross-listed in both departments and also counts towards the Human Rights and Humanitarianism concentration.

The course will explore how bureaucracy shapes the world and how it is, as Shandy puts it, “the air that we breathe.”

The optional trip, which will begin the week following commencement, lets students explore the diplomatic world with visits to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva and other international organizations. Shandy’s motivations for offering “The Language of Diplomacy” come from wanting to give anthropology students practical applications for their studies. “One of the things my department would like to do even better is to connect students to the world beyond Macalester in terms of vocation and jobs,” Shandy said.

Rogers agrees that the practical element is important, especially to French students at Macalester.

“We don’t really have a direct career path, so to show how French is used in a variety of human rights institutions and international institutions was really appealing to me, and I think will appeal to French students as well,” she added.

With global migration crises still ongoing, now seems like the perfect time to study the mechanics of how institutions like the UNHCR operate. Shandy, however, who has collaborated with the UNHCR on policy in the past, emphasized that although migration is in the news, the course is by no means simply of passing interest. “It’s not a kind of flash in the pan… I think these are enduring big societal challenges that even when the news cycles shifts to something else we need to be able to understand these issues,” she said.

A potential barrier to students interested in the trip is cost; while semester-long programs are generally well funded, according to Rogers, shorter-term trips like this one are not. “If you’re doing a two-week or three-week course often we ask the students to pay a lot of it, and that’s hard. I think that should change,” she said. Currently, the trip costs $3,000, and after what Shandy described as “intensive, lengthy, negotiations with Macalester,” students will be able to apply up to $500 of their financial aid to the cost of the trip. Still, in order to be inclusive, the class is open to students who cannot go on the trip.

The deadline for priority consideration for the course and accompanying trip is October 1, 2016.