Environmental Paris: The Modern Invention of Nature

Paris, France

Next Offered
Autumn 2024
Approximate Dates of Instruction
Application Deadline
Information Session: Monday, March 11, 7:00 pm, https://washington.zoom.us/j/7994213543

From the 18th century through today, Paris has been at the center of European and global re-visioning of nature and of our human relations with it.  Scientific, intellectual and political revolutions that began in the later 18th century gave rise to intense debates about both the “nature” of nature and about human beings’ historical and biological place within it.  “Environment” (a translation of the German Umgebung) first began to be used in 1827, a coinage designed to capture the force of this reconceptualization. 

This program offers students a chance to explore this modern “invention of nature” from three different perspectives—historical-scientific, urban sustainability-public health, and literary-artistic.  Each class will focus on a different segment of this trajectory, the late 18th/early 19th century, the later 19th century, and the early to mid-20th century.  All three classes will include exploration of Paris’s urban-natural landscapes, its gardens, its museums, and its architecture, as well as literary and visual representations of the shifting imagination of nature. 

The program will run October 1 - November 30, 2024 in Paris, France. Remote, on-line class activities will be held through December 6, 2024, to wrap up the program. Students will check out of program housing on November 30 and should arrange for alternate housing if they wish to stay in Paris, or they can travel to other European destinations or return home while they complete final assignments for the program. 

Classes take place at the American Church in Paris, in the very heart of Paris. Students stay with English-speaking families in Paris for the entire duration of the program. Excursions, city walks and research days will be scheduled during the week, leaving ample free time to explore the city and other sites in Europe during weekends. Daily breakfast and dinner are provided by the host families and included in the program fee.

  • CHID 471A / GLITS 315 / ENGL 365  /FRENCH 390: The (Re-)Invention of Nature (5 credits A&H, SSc, DIV, W)
  • CHID 471B / L ARCH 495: Ecologies of Paris: An Interdisciplinary Exploration (5 credits A&H, SSC)
  • CHID 471 C / C LIT 395 / ENGL 336: Modernism and the Modern Environment (5 credits A&H, SSC)
Fulfills Requirements
CHID Cultural and Historical Engagement
CHID Ideas in the World
SSc Credit
A&H Credit
Total Program Fees

*Note that the fees stated above do not include some additional costs, including, but not limited to: airfare and personal spending money. These costs will differ by program. Be sure to read our Fees, Financing, and Withdrawal information for details about the fee structure and payment schedule.