Cultural Programs History

The History of the Cultural Program 

Study trips have always been an integral part of AUP’s unique approach to international liberal arts education. Walter Brennan was the University’s first Cultural Program Advisor, leading outings to performances, talks and exhibitions across Paris all the way back in 1962. Marie DeLamater – wife of AUP’s founder, Dr. Lloyd DeLamater – later ran cultural excursions to museums and châteaux across France as part of the University’s art history courses. Alumni from our Founding Classes often cite these excursions as among their favorite memories of their time in Paris, whether they attended performances at the Paris Opéra or visited Normandy and the world-famous Mont Saint Michel, one of the most well-remembered trips from the era. 

Alongside the cultural experiences were more academically focused travel opportunities. In the late 1960s, study trips to the Soviet Union, including one to East Germany, allowed students to visit what were at the time otherwise inaccessible regions, immersing themselves in the complex political issues of the day. Study trips were always faculty-led and closely tied to the curriculum, providing an innovative and inspirational way for students to put theory into practice. 

    • 30+
      study trips take place each year
    • Over 100
      students receive Coup de Pouce funding each year

Notable Trips 

One of our longest-running study trips, Shakespeare in Context, which takes students to London and Stratford-upon-Avon, first ran in 1994 and has been offered annually, except for during the Covid-19 pandemic, ever since. Other notable recurring trips – including to Fez, Morocco, and Iceland – first appeared in the 2000s and 2010s, in parallel with the introduction of AUP’s graduate programs. 

The Sustainable Development Practicum in Auroville, India, which has been running for more than 13 years, is today one of our flagship programs. It provides a month-long opportunity for students to work closely with NGOs in the township to gain hands-on experience in how communications and management principles work in practice.

Faces of the Cultural Program

Walter J. Brennan: First Director of the Cultural Program 

Walter Brennan was born September 8, 1927, in Troy, New York. A concert pianist, he arrived at ACP during the founding phase of the College. Dr. Lloyd A. DeLamater, AUP’s Founder, was immediately impressed by his wide range of culture générale. Throughout the first five years, Brennan remained responsible for the college catalog and other formal correspondence. Importantly, he was a cofounder of the College’s Cultural Program, in collaboration with Marie-Louise Viborel DeLamater. As well as leading students on study trips, Brennan also taught musical theory and appreciation. He died in his Paris home on November 30, 2012. 

Marie Louise Viborel DeLamater: Contributor to the founding of ACP, wife of the founder, Director of Student Housing and the Cultural Program, and student counselor. 

Marie Louise Viborel DeLamater was born in Paris in 1925. She studied demography at the Sorbonne. She met Dr. Lloyd A. DeLamater while in the graduate program for medical library sciences at Columbia University on a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, married, and worked in Washington DC at the World Health Organization. She helped her husband found The American College in Paris and organized both the housing of students in French families and the Cultural Program, the latter of which she initially co-directed with Walter J. Brennan, though she later became sole director. Over the years, she led groups of students to the USSR and on ski trips. After 30 years, she retired from AUP and pursued her studies in linguistics and art history at the Sorbonne, fine arts at the Ecole d’Art de la Ville de Paris and life drawing at La Grande Chaumière, while rekindling her love of playing the piano.