American Foundation for the Paris School of Economics

The American Foundation for the Paris School of Economics is a 501(c)3 organization
dedicated to the advancement of economic understanding in France and elsewhere.


Collaborative Projects and New Initiatives


Though both AFPSE and PSE are new institutions, several initiatives involving fruitful collaboration are already in process.

 —AFPSE has launched, with PSE, a Franco-American exchange program under which each year four to six American scholars (professors, post doctoral fellows, or possibly PhD students finishing their theses) visit PSE for ten days each; and four to six French scholars at the same level make a similar short visit to an American university. Experience has shown that this kind of short-term, open- ended, exchange is one of the most useful, and yet difficult, things to organize and fund in today's academic environment. To date, this program has funded more than 40 short term exchanges, from France to the United States and vice versa.

Each of these scholarly visits benefits many people, from the visitor's immediate collaborators to the students and other faculty members who attend the lectures and research seminars organized by the host. It is reasonable to estimate that 300 to 400 people have benefited from the 40 exchanges organized so far. AFPSE is seeking funding to put this program on an on-going basis.

—The American Foundation for the Paris School of Economics is also developing, with PSE, a training program of intensive workshops for high school teachers of economics in the middle of their career. Though the teaching of economics and the social sciences is uniquely emphasized in French high schools, many experts consider that the national curriculum in these areas is excessively ideological and lacks practical applicability. One approach our Foundation has taken to this problem has been to work with faculty members at the Paris School of Economics to develop and test a series of two-day workshops intended to expose practicing teachers to modern concepts and to provide them with concrete examples that can be used in their classrooms. Early returns suggest that this program can reach 100 teachers a year, and through them 10 000 of the 100 000 high school students who select economics as their major high-school subject every year.

—AFPSE has also played a significant role in efforts to reform the national high school program. In January 2008, the Minister of Education formed a national commission, presided by Professor Roger Guesnerie, president of PSE, to review the high school curriculum in economics and social studies. The commission was instructed to present its conclusions to the Ministry by the end of June. At the same time, the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques of the Institut de France asked AFPSE to organize an international evaluation of the teaching of economics in French high schools. The Academie's purpose was to inform the work of the Guesnerie commission by inviting academic authorities from outside of France to analyze the national curriculum in economics and social studies, and to propose an independent critique of the curriculum and the text books which implement it.

With the support of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, AFPSE succeeded in mobilizing five eminent economists – two from the United States, and one each from Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom – who completed their report and submitted it to the Guesnerie commission in June, 2008. Both reports, that of the Guesneriie commission and that of the Académie, pointed to serious shortcomings in the national high school program.

Mindful of these reports, in the Fall of 2008, the Ministry of Education constituted a working group dedicated to making concrete proposals for the reform of the curriculum in economics and social studies. The first phase of this effort culminated in March, 2010, with the adoption by the Ministry of a new 10th grade program, now required of all students, emphasizing a few core economic concepts (supply and demand, competition …) and their application to real world problems.

AFPSE is continuing to work with the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques to support the next steps – design and introduction of new 11th and 12th grade curricula. It is seeking to raise funds to study examples from other countries (the U.S. and the northern European countries) of programs which are objective, modern and pedagogically sound, with a view to identifying elements in their experience which could usefully inform current French reform efforts.

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