FirstBridge is discovery!

FirstBridge is a dynamic, innovative learning experience that is the hallmark of a student’s first-year at AUP.  FirstBridge courses create “learning communities” in which you will meet new friends, be taught and mentored by professors who are experts in their field, and get to know the wider AUP community. 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.

FirstBridge from a Freshman Perspective!

Interdisciplinary perspectives, intellectual adventure

FirstBridge is part of our General Education requirements. 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. Each FirstBridge course focuses on a different subject of inquiry and its interdisciplinary approach demonstrates how different disciplines reflect on knowledge and apply their own methods to the same problems.

FirstBridge is led by a team of AUP professors who are experts in their fields, and is a great way to get to know and work closely with different faculty members. The course provides a solid foundation for the rigor of future academic work at AUP, including the selection of your major, and allows you to gain new knowledge and skills that you will use outside the university and beyond in your professional life.

FirstBridge and Paris—a combination essential to your learning

Paris is a city known for its beauty, its exquisite museums and monuments, its avant-gardism—and more recently for its edgy demographic and linguistic shifts, new urban developments, and global communications. AUP is proud to be at the center of the City of Lights, and the FirstBridge program embraces this richness. We link the adventurous learning experiences of entering AUP students first to the cutting-edge events of the city, then to the challenges of a global context. Eventually, we bring all explorations back into our multicultural classroom for analysis and project building.

Choosing your FirstBridge learning community

Our FirstBridge learning communities have different shapes and sizes. The following descriptions will help to you decide which FirstBridge is right for you. Follow the link that accompanies each type of FirstBridge, read the course descriptions carefully and let them spark your curiosity. 

FirstBridges (Model I) 1-9 are smaller learning communities with paired courses taught by two different professors. The two courses each meet twice a week and are carefully designed for you to make connections between two disciplines; a third space, reflective seminar, will help you to discover how one informs the other. This FirstBridge design allows you to engage deeply with the subject matter, your classmates, and professors.

FirstBridge (Model II) 10 is organized around larger 40 student lectures in which every student that chooses these FirstBridges will be enrolled. The lecture group meets twice a week. Each student will also choose a seminar according to their interests that meets twice a week. This FirstBridge is designed to help you engage deeply with two disciplines and meet four AUP faculty members and a larger group of your peers; it combines the advantages of both the seminar experience and time in a smaller learning community. 

A Selection of FirstBridge Courses

Language and Society                                                        

This linguistics course will look at language interaction within and between multilingual communities and individuals, code-switching between languages and dialects, and the development of Pidgins and Creoles. Using case studies, we will examine areas such as bilingual education, resistance to minority languages, and language dominance.

The United States and the World                                  

This course deals with the evolution of the relations between the United States and a changing world. It includes the study of the institutional bases and recent history of American foreign policy the foreign policy decision-making process, and the roles played by different branches of government and broad economic, political and social forces. Since 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the entry of the U.S. into World War I we will focus a bit on this episode.

Reading Ourselves & Others

This FirstBridge examines the self through the mediums of writing and art. Students study authors who have used autobiographical narrative to examine the essential question of identity - "Who am I?" - from Saint Augustine to the present. Concurrently, they examine a wide range of writings by artists (letters, journals, theoretical texts, interviews) to question the relationship between words and artworks. These forms of inquiry are complemented by activities and exercises at some of Paris’s most celebrated museums.

Autobiographical Writing                                                  

In this class we will study authors who have used autobiographical narrative, essays, diaries, letters and fiction to examine essential questions of identity from antiquity to the present. Our exploration of these modes of inquiry will be complemented by the study of selected masters of self-representation, such as Van Gogh. By learning how others have documented their experience in language and in line, students become better readers of themselves and the world around them, and develop the technical skill to articulate this understanding with greater clarity.

The art and science of creating digital stuff         

In this part of the FB students will acquire skills to create digital objects. We will start by creating simple static objects and movies (from 2D pictures to 3D artifacts) to interactive games and engaging and entertaining ones. Starting with simple programs (like Excel and Word) we’ll continue with 3D design software and finally Lego Mindstorms to create physical interactive sculptures, wearables, and various prototypes and conceptual installations. The stress will be on originality and the engagement rather than utility.

The Indian Subcontinent                                                    

The India module looks at British attempts to control India politically and imaginatively as well as Indian resistance to such control. We will trace the contemporary Indian identity to the Bengal Renaissance, a synthesis of western and Indian cultures that proposed fresh, exciting ways of reinterpreting religion, culture, the place of women, and political action.

Thou art the cause I to myself am strange                       

The object of this course is to examine the concept of the self and the other through works of history, literature, philosophy, as well as self-exploration: how do we describe ourselves? how can we be sure that the individuals we think we are really represent our true selves?

Sex, Gender and Cinema                                      

How does cinema shape the power dynamics of our culture and give us models to see ourselves?  How do the images and the way those images are constructed around sex and gender limit and challenge how we negotiate who we can become? This First Bridge section will explore sex and gender through cinema and cinema through the prism of sex and gender. You’ll emerge with an understanding of how films work and how they the codes of cinema reinforce or open up ideas about sex and gender. This course substitutes for FM1010 in the Film Major and satisfies the GE Comparing Worlds requirement. 

Science Fiction Asks What It Means to Be Human        

Science fiction is a speculative genre that allows the reader to imagine alternative human societies and possibilities for existence that expand our known experience. We will be reading short stories that, whether they are escapist paradigms or fear-inducing eventualities, allow for a critical reflection on the desires, aspirations, and fantasies in a given cultural and historical moment. These narratives can convey an investment in the notions of progress and the perfectibility of humankind through the tropes of utopia as much as they can express a pessimistic dystopian approach to the nightmarish consequences that the misuses of evolutionary thinking can entail. This course will explore how authors such as Isaac Asimov, James Tiptree Jr., Octavia Butler, Joanna Russ, Ursula Le Guin, and Marge Piercy rearticulate relationships of sex, class, race, and gender in order to positively influence society.

Democracy and Media: the 2016 US Presidential Campaign     

This course is a special version of comparative political communication.  In the context of political theories of democracy, the course covers prevalent political communication theories and trends, the relationship between political institutions and the press in the U.S., elections, debates, political campaigning and advertising, digital media and citizen participation, political socialization, education, and popular culture.


Download the full list of Firstbridge courses >