[Photo: Margaret Werner]

An Economics and French major at Hamilton College, Samuel ’21 took economics classes in France this year, and this way, he was able to appreciate the different methods of teaching between France and the United States. He accepted to share his experience here.

Coming from a liberal arts college like Hamilton, the bulk of my studies in economics had always taken place in small classrooms where lectures and discussions are fused together into one seminar. The French university system approaches the study of economics differently, dividing classes into two parts: le cours magistral (CM) and les travaux dirigés (TD). While the CM is taught in a large lecture hall, my TD sections were taught in small classrooms of less than 20 students. Especially as a foreign student, this environment made me feel much more comfortable participating in class discussions.

Additionally, the small size of TD sections allowed my professors to draw on current events and student experiences to teach course material. In one of my courses at Université de Paris 7, “Entreprises, secteurs, et marchés,” which focused largely on industrial organization, we routinely discussed the economic implications of the 2019-20 pension reform strikes in France. Analyzing French politics and hearing the diversity of opinions in my economics classes was an incredible experience. Not only was it personally interesting to me, but it gave me the ability to return to dinner with my host family and discuss current events in a more meaningful way.