History

A Brief History of the Sweet Briar College Junior Year in France Program

JYF students on board the ship in 1949.

Sweet Briar College’s JYF in Paris is the oldest coeducational intercollegiate study abroad program in Paris. Created in 1923 by the University of Delaware, the program was interrupted by the start of World War II and, in 1948, was taken on by Sweet Briar College.

The formula established by the University of Delaware is largely followed to this day. The Junior Year in France was endorsed by two agencies of the Institute of International Education in New York: The Council on the Junior Year Abroad and the Advisory Committee on the Junior Year in France, made up of representatives from the various partner colleges and universities.

At this time of great need for a better understanding between the peoples of the world, a gathering of students in friendly exchange between different countries, can make important contributions toward the international vision of human fellowship. The eyes of men and women from every part of our shrunken globe lift toward the United Nations, struggling to take the world forward on the difficult road to peace. We believe that our sponsorship of the Junior Year in France is more than ever timely, and that students and their parents will be eager to give it support.

— Bulletin of Sweet Briar College, Volume 34, Number 4, December, 1951

These goals still ring very true today. Airplanes have replaced ships for travel to Paris, an academic focus on arts and the humanities has broadened to include the sciences, options now include internships and students may now spend a semester in Paris instead of the full year… but students still come from colleges and universities around the U.S., they are still housed with French host families and they are still directly enrolled in Paris universities.

As then, “one of the principal objectives for all students is that broad outlook and deeper comprehension that come from the mastery of French and intimate contact with France and French culture.”

American Students in Paris, Sweet Briar Film Archives, 1956.

Watch: American Students in Paris
Sweet Briar Film Archives, 1956