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  • Locations: Lyon, France
  • Program Terms: Early Fall
  • Homepage: Click to visit
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Program Information:
sociology italy
 Location Lyon, France
Early Fall 2017
August 30 – September 21, 2017
 Estimated    Program Fee $3,600 (includes $350 CHID fee)
 Credits 5 UW credits
 Prerequisites None
 Program      Directors Ellen Sollod, Elizabeth Brown
 Program  Manager Darielle Horsey |
 Application    Deadline March 15, 2017
 Information  Session(s) Wednesday, February 8, 3:30-4:30 in  Padelford C101
  General This program will use Lyon, France, as a laboratory to study image-making from all directions and to gain currency in critical analysis through visual thinking.
Where You Will Study
Expenses, Financial Aid, & Scholarships

  Visas This country is part of the Schengen area. Please click here to learn more about important rules and restrictions for foreign visitors to this area.

Program Description

In today’s society, we are awash in images—from YouTube and Instagram to cinema and fine art photography, from advertising to fake news, from public sculpture to contemporary civic architecture. Images come at us from all directions and with such speed that many simply absorb and move on. To navigate our 21st-century world effectively, critical thinking and analytical skills are crucial as never before. This program will use Lyon, France, as a laboratory to study image-making from all directions and to gain currency in critical analysis through visual thinking.

With its layers of history, distinctive quartiers, and world-famous cultural industries, Lyon is an ideal site for exploring the work that images do in contemporary society and how we can “read” them critically. Thinking visually will allow us to imagine new possibilities for shaping and making forms of urban life in the 21st century—practices that are flourishing in Lyon today. Lyon, the second largest city in France and its gastronomical capital, offers a unique environment in which to grapple with these issues. The birthplace of cinema, Lyon remains a dynamic presence for the study of the history of film, photography, and contemporary cinematography through the Institut Lumière. During World War II, Lyon played an important role in both the Vichy Government and the Resistance. Using the resources of the Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation, we will examine the role of information and propaganda in shaping history and compare and contrast this to contemporary events. We will unpack the subtle influences that captured images exercise on knowledge formation and understanding. Through the Rives de Sa?ne project, we will examine how public art shapes public space, communicates ideas of environmental stewardship and cultural heritage, and brings life to abandoned parts of the city in relation to the role art might play in shaping the urban environment in Seattle and beyond. We will meet with scholars and community members to gain direct insight into these forces that have shaped Lyon.

The program will include in-depth site visits, image making, critical reading, and group discussions. Students will complete a significant project that reflects their unique insights into an aspect of the city. The forms for these projects may include scholarly research; performances in music, sound, drama, or visual art; visual or text-based installations; and creative writing. Following CHID’s emphasis on engaged, collaborative, and experiential learning, we will undertake a mix of analytical, reflective, and creative approaches. Some questions that will guide our study include: What happens when you switch your focus from the word to the image? How does thinking visually open up new insights? How do you make sense of a major, vibrant urban center that’s new to you? How can you start to make a place for yourself while respecting existing culture(s)? How does the present reflect the past? How do we determine veracity in looking at images?


Lyon, France


Housing will be provided by Gestetud, a private housing operator affiliated with the University of Lyon. Payment may be made by wire transfer in advance of the program and by credit card for guaranteeing the housing damage deposit, which may be charged to students in the event that they damage the living facilities.


Pre-Requisites/Language Requirements

This program will be of particular interests to undergraduates or graduate students from CHID, the School of Art (Art History; Design; Photography, Sculpture, IVA, New Media, Painting, etc.), the College of the Built Environment (Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning), French, History, Urban Studies, Political Science, and Classics, but is open to all majors. Given our focus on cross-media methodologies, we are seeking students from a wide variety of disciplines and perspectives.

Some knowledge of French is desirable but not required. Deep knowledge of or experience with photography is not a prerequisite. We seek adventurous students open to new experiences and points of view, adept at assimilating new information, and equipped with emotional and interpersonal intelligence. Lyon is well served by public transportation. There is also a robust and comfortable bike-share program. Standard amounts of walking for touring the city and visiting sites will be required, sometimes involving significant hills. Lyon’s transit system is accessible to people with disabilities.


5 Credits


CHID 471 (5 credits)

In contemporary society, we are awash in images—from YouTube and Instagram to cinema and fine art photography, from advertising and kitsch to public sculpture and contemporary civic architecture. Images come at us from all directions and with such speed that there is a tendency toward unthinking passivity, where we simply absorb and move on. Instead, to effectively navigate our 21st-century world, critical thinking and analytical skills are crucial as never before. In her seminal book, On Photography (1977), Susan Sontag offered a prescient and critical assessment of the roles and impact of photography and image making on society. This course will reexamine her text, among other important works in critical theory (Flusser, Barthes, and so on), considering the shifts in how photography functions in the contemporary world, while examining the role of art in place-making.

Using these theoretical tools, this exploration seminar will promote visual literacy through encounters with works of art, buildings, sites, design projects, and performances, which will be analyzed in seminar, discussions, and assigned projects. Class work, group conversations, and quotidian experience will query the intentions and impacts of built environments, throwing into relief such issues as how reverberations from the historical past shape present day experience and how industry, alongside cultural policies, influences architecture and urban design.

Learning Goals: 

Students will develop a nuanced approach to visual literacy and critical analysis of imagery and the built environment.

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • describe how the fine and applied arts have shaped Lyon culturally and physically
  • express an understanding of the history and impact of image-making on society
  • gain a familiarity with the role of artists and art in place-making

Primary texts for the seminar include selections from On Photography by Susan Sontag, Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes, River of Shadows by Rebecca Solnit, Towards a Philosophy of Photography by Vilem Flusser, “The Work of Art in the Age of Reproduction” by Walter Benjamin, a chapter from Dialogues in Public Art by Tom Finkelpearl, and selections from the Project for Public Spaces website.

Students will be expected to keep a daily journal that may be a visual sketchbook, a collection of photographs around a theme or topic, or take another form. They will participate in a collaborative place-analysis project. Much of their work will be focused on inventing and realizing an independent project of their choice based on the premise of the course. They will work with faculty to select and refine their independent project, which may take the form of visual art, recording, creative writing, or narrative text. Class participation, including team work, individual projects, appropriate preparation, and supportive attitudes towards their classmates will be emphasized as critical to success in the project.

Participants will be expected to have a laptop and some kind of digital image making device, such as a smartphone. We also hope to borrow a Kindle for each interested student from CHID.

Program Directors & Staff

Ellen Sollod, Department of CHID, Program Co-Director

Ellen Sollod is a renowned public artist whose permanent works can be found in institutions throughout the Pacific Northwest. An artist-activist practicing in multiple media, she works at the intersection of social justice and public space.

Elizabeth Brown, Department of CHID, Program Co-Director

Elizabeth Brown (PhD, Columbia) is a scholar of contemporary art, interwar Europe, and the history of photography. She was the Chief Curator at the UW’s Henry Art Gallery from 2000 to 2011.

Program Expenses

Cost: $3,600

Estimated Program Fee of $3,600, the UW Study Abroad Fee ($350), airfare, food (about $20/day), UW Study Abroad Insurance ($62/month), other health expenses/immunizations and personal spending money.

Average Airplane Ticket Price

$1,500* roundtrip

*Subject to when & where you buy your ticket

Payment Schedule

Program fees will be posted to your MyUW student account and can be paid the same way that you pay tuition and other fees. Check your MyUW Account periodically for due dates.

Payment Type Payment Amount Payment Due Date
CHID Fee $350 October 13, 2017
Non-Refundable Study Abroad Fee $350 October 13, 2017
Program Fee Balance $3,250 October 13, 2017


There are a variety of scholarships available to help fund your study abroad experience. Visit the Global Opportunities page for more information and application deadlines.


To be eligible to study abroad, all program participants must attend an in-person pre-departure orientation facilitated by the Study Abroad office as well as your program-specific orientations, offered by your program director.

You must register for orientation through your online study abroad account in order to attend scheduled orientations. You can visit the Orientation section of our website to view the current orientation schedule.

Orientation must be completed prior to the enrollment deadline for the quarter that you are studying abroad.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most forms of financial aid can be applied to study abroad. You can verify that your financial aid award will apply to your program costs by contacting the Financial Aid Office. Financial aid or scholarships awarded as tuition waivers or tuition exemptions might not apply so you will need to verify that these funds are eligible for use with study abroad by contacting the funding office.

Financial aid and most scholarships are disbursed according to the UW academic calendar (at the beginning of the quarter). If your program starts before the start of the UW quarter, your financial aid will not be available to you prior to your departure. If your program starts after the first day of the quarter, your financial aid will be disbursed at the start of the program. In either of these cases, you will have to finance any upfront costs such as airfare, health insurance and the start of your time abroad on your own. Please take this into consideration when you are making plans.

Revision Request

In some instances you may qualify for an increase in your financial aid award (typically in loan funds). Check with the Financial Aid Office about your options. To request a revision in your aid, you will need to submit the following paperwork to the Financial Aid Office:

  1. Revision Request Form
  2. Budget of student expenses for your program: The UW Study Abroad Office will upload this budget to your study abroad account after a signed contract has been submitted to the UW Study Abroad Office. You can request an unofficial copy of this budget by emailing

Visit the Finances section of our website to learn more about disbursement, revising your aid package, short-term loans and scholarships.

Application Process

The application includes a Personal Statement, three short answer questions, two recommendations from a professor or TA, and electronic signature documents related to UW policies and expectations for study abroad. Following the on-line application process students may be contacted by the Program Director for an in-person interview. Once an admission decision has been made regarding your application, you will be notified by the study abroad system via email.


UW Study Abroad is not responsible for obtaining visas for study abroad program participants. The cost and requirements for obtaining visas vary. It is your responsibility to determine visa requirements for all countries you plan to visit while abroad including countries that you plan to visit before or after your study abroad program. You can do so by calling the consular offices of those countries or checking the following website:

Note: If you are not a U.S. citizen, consult the embassy or consulate of the countries you will visit to learn their document requirements. You can check the following website to find contact information for the consulate of the country you will be visiting:

For non-U.S. citizens, the procedures that you will need to follow may be different than those for U.S. citizens. It is important to initiate this process as soon as possible in order to assemble documents and allow time for lengthy procedures.

Disability Accommodations

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, and education for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation for this program, contact Disability Resources for Students at least 8 weeks in advance of your departure date. Contact info at


$350 of the total program fee and the $350 UW Study Abroad Fee are non-refundable and non-revocable once a contract has been submitted, even if you withdraw from the program. Students withdrawing from a program are responsible for paying a percentage of the program fee depending on the date of withdrawal. More details about the withdrawal policy are included in your payment contract. No part of the program fee is refundable once the program has begun. The date of withdrawal is considered the date (business day) a withdrawal form is received by the UW Study Abroad Office. Notice of withdrawal from the program must be made in writing by completing the following steps:

1. Provide notice in writing to the Program Director that you will no longer be participating in the program for which you have signed a contract and accepted a slot.

2. Submit a signed withdrawal form to the UW Study Abroad Office, 459 Schmitz Hall.

Visit the Withdrawals section of our website for more information.