FirstBridge is discovery

FirstBridge is the hallmark of your first year at AUP. This dynamic, innovative learning experience provides a solid foundation for the rigor of future academic work at AUP and allows you to gain new knowledge and skills that you will use outside the university and beyond in your professional life. You will explore a range of interdisciplinary issues and questions, and complete individual and team projects while improving vital skills in writing, public speaking and information literacy. It will connect you with the people and resources at AUP that will help you chart a critical pathway to academic and personal success. It is both an introduction to university life at AUP and an introduction to the cosmopolitan city of Paris.

Choosing a FirstBridge

You may be arriving at AUP with a strong sense of your intellectual interests and desired educational and career path, or you may not. FirstBridge is designed to help you confirm interests and explore new ones, to go outside of your comfort zone and take risks. If you have decided on a major or minor, we encourage you to choose a FirstBridge that is outside of this field. The following descriptions will help you to decide which FirstBridge is right for you. Follow the link that accompanies each FirstBridge, read the course descriptions carefully and let them spark your curiosity.

This year, FirstBridge courses come in two different formats: an intensive Fall-semester course, leaving your Spring semester open to take two elective courses, or a year-long option that spreads your FirstBridge classes across both semesters, leaving room for one elective in each. Be sure to check not only the course descriptions but also the course format before making your final selection.

Intensive FirstBridge Courses (Fall 2022)

Intensive FirstBridge 1: HEROES AND VILLAINS

Who gets to be a good guy? From Superman and Wonder Woman to Edward Snowden and Greta Thunberg, this FirstBridge looks at both historical and fictional figures to explore how the world chooses its heroes and villains. Use approaches from management and comparative literature to examine how legends are made.

BA 1099: HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO with Professor Hamilton

Meet the heroes and villains of the business world. This class uses management concepts to explore how business leaders throughout history, from Marshall Field to Jeff Bezos, have come to be viewed by society. You’ll study real-world retail, sports and finance figures alongside their fictional counterparts. Analyze the works of Michael Lewis (Moneyball and The Big Short) and TV shows like Narcos and Breaking Bad while engaging in business simulations and research projects.

CL 1099: YOU ARE THE HERO… with Professor Williams

Heroes and villains are a staple of pop culture. In this class, you’ll look at protagonists and antagonists from novels, poems, comics, TV series, journalism, music and games. Consider different reader experiences and the implicit politics of immersing oneself in fictional worlds. Engage critically with works such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and Alan Moore’s Watchmen (1987).

Intensive FirstBridge 2: MEMORY-MAKING

What makes a memory? Humans often create tools to immortalize their lived experiences. Museums and memorials contribute to our shared sense of history. This FirstBridge combines approaches from psychology and global communications to explore the human practice of memory making.

CM 1099: MEMORY LAB: MEDIA, MEMORY AND MATERIAL CULTURE with Professor Talcott

From Paleolithic cave paintings to digital archives, mediated spaces have helped shape our memories since humanity’s origins. In the Memory Lab, you’ll explore how communications technologies have developed in tandem with our social, cultural, political and psychodynamic processes. From the oral tradition to digital media, human communication has impacted our sense of self. Learn how to wield these “tools of memory” to build, shape and change our world.

PY 1099: INTRODUCTION TO MEMORY STUDIES with Professor Schiff

What is memory? Is memory a social or individual phenomenon? How does it relate to truth and history? Memory studies draws on historical, psychoanalytic, cognitive, sociological and cultural perspectives to explore possible answers to these questions. By studying representational forms such as films, museums and monuments, you will uncover the powerful theoretical and applied implications of an approach to memory that breaks down borders between people and social groups.

Intensive FirstBridge 3: DEMOCRACY, PARTICIPATION AND DIGITAL LIFE IN TIMES OF CRISIS

The Covid-19 pandemic presents new challenges for democratic participation. How can digital tools respond? This FirstBridge combines perspectives from global communications and political philosophy to examine how democratic life is affected by national and global crises. Apply democratic theory to our evolving world and learn what it means to participate in democracy.

CM 1099: SPEAKING OUT AND LOGGING IN: DIGITAL PARTICIPATION AND PUBLIC with Professor Feldman

Online life increasingly affects our political world. This class explores the perils and promises of online participation for democracy. Consider emerging technologies while asking old questions about what it means to participate in a public. Learn how to use key concepts in media studies and democracy theory to rethink our roles as citizens in the digital age.

PL 1099: DEMOCRACY: FROM ATHENS TO ZUCCOTTI PARK with Professor Culp

Democracy is defined as government by, for and of the people. But who are the people? And what is their will? This class surveys classic and contemporary theory and practice relating to democracy, drawing on examples from ancient Greece to modern-day protests in Tahrir Square and Zuccotti Park. You’ll learn how processes of digitalization such as social media are transforming local, national and global forms of democratic life.

Intensive FirstBridge 4: IDENTITY, ALTERITY AND PERSUASION

Identity is a human invention. The world around us shapes our desires, cultures and sense of self – but how do we come to know who we are and what we want? This FirstBridge examines the forces that shape how we define ourselves.

HI 1099: SCIENCE, SOCIETY AND HUMAN ORIGINS with Professor Martz

Why are humans so obsessed with separating people into groups? Humans have always identified some people as “us” and others as “them.” Yet much of the modern-day “scientific” discourse surrounding race still dates from the 19th century. What does science really have to say about the origins and evolution of our species? How did racialized discourse come into being? And how did some people come to use it as a justification for slavery, imperialism, eugenics and even genocide?

BA 1099: MARKETING OR MANIPULATION with Professor Odonkor

At what point does marketing become manipulation? Marketers and producers of material culture shape our perceptions of ourselves. This class encourages you to reassess your relationship to culture and identity within the framework of branding and marketing. Examine marketing techniques that shape consumer perceptions of topics such as beauty, status and the environment.

Intensive FirstBridge 5: THE MIDDLE EAST and north AFrica: CULTURES AND PLACES

The Middle East and North Africa, a region running from the Atlantic in the west to the Arabian Gulf in the east, is home to diverse languages, cultures, cities and landscapes. This FirstBridge offers students an introduction to the region’s cultures through literature and cinema, urbanism and architecture, and cultural geography, examining cities as diverse as Mecca, Medina, Cairo and Istanbul.

CL 1099: MODERN TO CONTEMPORARY IN THE ARAB WORLD with Professor Tresilian

This class offers an introduction to the Arab World through literature and cinema, building a strong foundation in 21st-century Arabic cultural output and continuing right up to the present. How has cultural life changed across the Arab World, ten years after the Arab Spring uprisings? The class explores current debates on identity and culture across the region, with reference to a wide range of texts, films and digital materials.

ME 1099: FROM MEDINA TO METROPOLIS: THE CITIES OF THE NEAR EAST AND NORTH AFRICA with Professor McGuinness

Discover cities across the Middle East through the lenses of urban planning, architectural history and political geography. Explore the interactions between rapid social change, political power and professional planning by studying the history of urban settlements in the Middle East from the beginning of Islam until today. Reflect on how management, planning and design can help the region face challenges including conflict-induced migration and national revolutions.

Intensive FirstBridge 6: HISTORY, POLITICS AND LANGUAGES

This FirstBridge, which places a particular emphasis on the Middle East, combines linguistic theory with history and politics to uncover the role languages play in geopolitical relations. Explore the causes of conflicts and struggles across the world in the context of a region’s cultural and linguistic richness.

LI 1099: LANGUAGES OF THE WORLD with Professor Rast

How many languages are in the world? How are they all related? In this class, you will investigate the diversity of languages and language families around the world and how they change over time. Explore the structural characteristics of language, and consider issues of linguistic diversity and endangered languages.

ME 1099: STRUGGLES, CULTURES, IDENTITIES AND REVOLUTIONS IN THE MODERN MIDDLE EAST with Professor Majed

Intensive FirstBridge 7: WHO AM I? WRITING THE SELF AND THE CITY

In this FirstBridge, you will engage with essential questions of identity through reading and writing. Discover autobiographical prose from antiquity to the present and explore how writers respond to physical urban environments. Create your own work that engages with Paris and other settings to excavate ideas of the self through prose. Retrace the steps of some of Paris’s most famous writers and develop your own narratives of the City of Light.

CL 1099: AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL WRITING with Professor Medin

In this class, you will consider authors who have explored aspects of self-knowledge through various forms of writing. Learn to read critically and analytically to situate a text within its historical context. Practice writing autobiographically in the forms deployed by assigned authors, from Michael de Montaigne to Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. By exploring how others have documented their lives across different genres, you will be better able to interpret how you interact with the world around you.

EN 1099: WRITING PARIS, WRITING PLACE with Professor Dennis

Read and respond to novels and short stories that engage with the history, rhythms and cultural traditions of Paris, including James Baldwin, Marguerite Duras and Leila Slimani. Explore the City of Light both in person and through your own creative writing, uncovering the stories behind street names and monuments. Consider techniques for writing place in an engaging way, while using creative writing as a vector of curiosity and a new way of encountering the spaces in which we live.

Intensive FirstBridge 8: GIFTS, MONEY, DEBT: LITERATURE AND ECONOMICS

Economics and literature are sometimes viewed as opposing disciplines; one deals with the hard facts of the world, the other with beauty, imagination and creativity. In reality, they are both important frameworks within which to understand human social behavior. Discover how literature can make you a better economist, and how economics can make you a better reader.

EC 1099: THE ECONOMICS OF MONEY AND DEBT with Professor Valeonti

This class introduces you to key economic concepts, helping you understand how these instruments affect the way in which our economies work. Using a historical analysis of key economic texts, you will gain an understanding of how money makes economies function, of the role debt plays in our lives and of how taxes can keep society together.

CL 1099: WRITING AND ECONOMIC IMAGINATION with Professor Gilbert

Literary texts are commodities with value. Many great works of literature address economic themes, exploring the place of money in our world, our experience of debt and the forces that organize our desires or constrain our freedoms. Economic texts tell their own stories and draw on images and metaphors. Explore works by Adam Smith and Karl Marx alongside novels and poems from the past and present to enrich and expand your understanding of individual and social experiences.

Intensive FirstBridge 9: Outer Space: The Science and the Stakes

Space exploration has fascinated humanity for generations. This narrative power has long held an influence over scientific development and cultural contexts worldwide. This FirstBridge combines scientific and geopolitical approaches to the understanding of humanity’s relationship to the stars.

SC 1099: with Professor Nguyen

Experimental science and data science started with Galileo Galilei's studies of Earth’s gravity and celestial objects. In this class, we discuss how astronomical discoveries from countries across the world have shaped the evolution of both culture and science.

PO 1099: GEOPOLITICS OF OUTER SPACE: TECHNOLOGY, MILITARY COMPETITION AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN ASTRONAUTICS with Professor Kobtzeff

Space exploration holds political and strategic significance. Military projects related to space travel held a crucial role in the balance of power towards the end of the Cold War. Yet the constant increase in the cost of space technology ultimately made it necessary to pool global resources and postpone confrontation. An entire economy has emerged around space travel, situated in changing cultural attitudes. Discover how this context provides opportunities to divert power away from the military industrial complex and towards efforts leading to peace.

Full-year FirstBridge Courses (Fall 2022)

Full-Year FirstBridge 1: INTERPRETING CULTURES, INVENTING WORLDS

with Professor Elder and Professor Roy

Combining approaches from anthropology and literature, this class asks how we can interpret cultures and navigate forms of difference. How can we use conceptual tools to liberate ourselves from hierarchies and imagine new ways of being? Explore cafés, museums and neighborhoods in Paris as spaces of belonging, economic production and artistic creativity. Visit northern Sweden where the Jokkmokk winter market plays an important role in the cultural identity and history of the Sami people.

Full-Year FirstBridge 2: MINORITIES IN FRANCE SINCE THE REVOLUTION

with Professor Strick and Professor Bloch-Lainé

Are there any minorities in France? The French Declaration of the Rights of Man insists that for all citizens to be equal there must be no differentiation between individuals. Yet slavery, colonialism and religious discrimination are all play a part in France’s history. Examine both historical documents and fictional representations from across two centuries to develop an understanding of how France’s modern debates around identity politics came into being. Trace the legacy of such debates by visiting historical memorials across the country.

Full-Year FirstBridge 3: MAKING IT: THE ART AND SCIENCE OF CREATING STUFF

with Professor Shimony and Professor Stojanov

Discover the creative process behind artifact production while learning the fundamental concepts of 3D design. Learn to make models and prototypes from materials as diverse as paper and Play-Doh. Acquire the skills to design virtual objects such as movies, websites and computer programs, and compare these methods those of the plastic arts. Gain new insight into the creative process with a final project that combine material and virtual approaches through the creation of a robotic sculpture that will move and interact with humans.