Paris: A Global City?

Paris: A Global City?

Professor Interview
  • View of the rue Tronchet, Paris (photo: Irina Palei)View of the rue Tronchet, Paris (photo: Irina Palei)

Bruno Cousin will teach the course “Paris: A Global City?” in the social sciences track of the University Programme.

Download the course overview for “Paris: A Global City?” (PDF, 200 Ko).

Bruno Cousin (PhD Sciences Po & Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca) is an assistant professor of sociology at Sciences Po, and a researcher at the Centre d’études européennes. Prior to joining Sciences Po as a faculty member, he worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University, then as an assistant professor at the University of Lille (France). His research stands at the intersection between urban sociology, the analysis of social inequality, and cultural sociology, and focuses mainly on the upper and upper-middle classes. He currently teaches a class on urban segregation (with Marco Oberti) and another on qualitative methods in the master programs of the Urban School.

This is your first year teaching at the Summer School.  What are you most looking forward to?

As both a professor and a researcher, I find it particularly interesting to share what the social sciences teach us about the French capital with students who come from all over the world and from many different backgrounds.  Although the first goal of such classes is to share a body of knowledge that has been solidly established and passed down through generations (or more!) of researchers in the social sciences, it is also an opportunity for me as a professor to refine my analyses or the way I present information when I am confronted with the diversity of students’ reactions; what surprises them, what intrigues them, what moves them…

What is the most important thing students will learn in your class?

Using Paris as a case study, they will become familiar with the different theories and methodologies used in the social and political sciences in order to understand the organization and evolution of a large metropolis.  Of course, they will also discover the specificities of Paris and the French context.

What advice would you give to students spending a summer in Paris to get the most out of their time here?

I would advise them to divide their time equally between class, individual study, and direct discovery of the city!  During their summer in Paris, they will be immersed in the object of their studies, so they should take full advantage of being able to go back and forth between books and first-hand observation of the urban fabric and its interactions. Certain books, such as Paris: quinze promenades urbaines (Payot, 2013) by Michel Pinçon and Monique Pinçon-Charlot, propose itineraries with commentary that helps the reader understand the social division of space in Paris and the dynamics that cause it. Additionally, don’t think that Paris stops at the périphérique highway; it’s a much larger metropolis with many lesser-known areas that deserve to be explored…  And of course the Summer School offers many opportunities for students to get to know Sciences Po and to meet students and professors (even outside of class).

What is your favorite spot in Paris?

I’m not sure I have one favorite spot in Paris, but I have spent several summers in Paris as a student… I would simply advise students that in addition to the many libraries, the city overflows with spots to read or study outdoors in the sun.

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