About the Maymester Course

The USC Thornton School of Music and the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance are collaborating on a new program that will allow music and dance students to study in Paris this May.

Inspired by USC President C. L. Max Nikias’ commitment to promoting global literacy, the new program is a “Maymester” intensive learning experience. On May 13, undergraduates from both schools will travel to Paris for a three-week course that will allow the cohort of 20 to pursue their studies while immersed in European culture. Each student will earn two credits toward their degree as part of their Spring 17 semester enrollment.

“Over the past several years it has become increasingly clear that the parents of our undergraduates are interested in an international experience for their children as part of their education at USC,” said Robert Cutietta, who serves as Dean of both schools. “We’re very excited to work with students to tailor programs for them.”

The program has been developed by Jackie Kopcsak, assistant professor of practice at Kaufman, and Joanna Demers, chair of Musicology at Thornton. The two professors will accompany the students to Paris.

“What excites me about this course is that we have been able to curate an experiential learning environment outside of the traditional classroom,” Kopcsak said. “The three weeks of the Maymester will be packed with lectures, site visits, museum tours, music and dance performances, and other cultural excursions.”

Famous as a gathering place of artists and intellectuals, the course will adopt the model of the intellectual salons for which Paris is known, bringing together artist-scholars of diverse backgrounds to explore specific salons of the past, engage in conversation and broaden collective cultural literacy.

“Throughout the course, we will consider Paris’ role in cultivating collaboration not only across disciplines and art forms, but across cultures as well,” said Demers. “Paris is the ideal city for such a class: long a center for dance and music, it has attracted artists from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa as well as Europe and the Americas.”

“Students will have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of their artistic ancestors through the streets, gardens and performance spaces of Paris,” Kopcsak added. “I think it will bring history to life in a unique and very memorable way.”

One benefit of the Maymester approach to international learning is it allows the students to fully participate in campus life and ensemble performance opportunities during the academic year while also getting exposure to new experiences abroad.

“It is very likely that many of our students will perform and work in Europe during their careers,” said Dean Cutietta. “We hope to prepare them now.”