World War I, 100 Years On

Last spring, Accent Paris hosted Professor Annick Cizel from the New Sorbonne University (Paris III), who led a discussion on the future of transatlantic relations and the shifting world order in light of a new U.S. administration and wavering European Union. Months later, the U.S. has taken a drastically new stance within the United Nations. President Trump’s public rows with North Korea, among other perceived diplomatic missteps, have career diplomats, scholars, and politicians discussing the potential of a third World War.

2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. With international alliances and the role of the U.S. in world affairs omnipresent in media and current affairs, will U.S. students embrace the opportunity to learn from past lessons of war?

Each term in 2018, Accent Paris will host an open lecture exploring the impact of the Grande Guerre on France and the world. Students will consider how World War I shaped the course of the 20th century, giving rise to communism, fascism, and Nazism, which set the groundwork for World War II, sparked the decline of Western imperialism, and radically altered the direction of art, literature, psychology, and other fields.

Speakers will explore the impact of mass causality and collective trauma on national and generational identities, as students think critically about cultural constructions of historical memory in France and the U.S., in postwar years and present day.

Partner schools may also consider a study tour to Eastern France that illustrates the scale and impact of World War I, visiting the battlefield near the city of Verdun where nearly one million soldiers from both sides were killed in the war’s longest battle. Alongside the Verdun Memorial, the area is also home to the Douaumont Ossuary, with remains of 130,000 unidentified French and German soldiers, and the Tranchée des Baïonettes mass grave.

The World War I centennial in 2018 is an educational opportunity in France and beyond to consider not only the impact of the Great War and the conditions throughout history that lead countries to the battlefield.