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The exchange of ideas is a hallmark of the French heritage, and the Embassy of France in the United States serves as a forum for debate and intellectual encounters.

Events such as The Night of Ideas and the French Series promote France and contribute to its diplomatic, economic, and cultural standing in the United States while demonstrating the vitality, innovation and excellence of our bilateral relationship.

Launched in November 2016, the French Series conference program features influential French and American journalists, experts, think tankers and scholars who share their expertise on contemporary social and foreign policy issues of transatlantic interest.

The French Series conference program seeks to foster an environment in which French and American citizens from a variety of professional backgrounds can exchange on important global issues. The topics of discussion will range from, financial and economic relations, to politics, counter-terrorism, technology and innovation, as well as history and literature. The French Series offers an open and informal dialogue in English between experts and those who wish to expand their knowledge.

 

Discover our past events

French Series 2021

 Terrorists on trial – Can the courtroom help us heal?
 Notre-Dame de Paris: Rebuilding a Legacy
 Gender Equality: Testimonies from Women in Leadership
 A conversation with David H. Petraeus

MAY 5, 2021

Terrorists on trial – Can the courtroom help us heal?

Federal and state courts try international as well as domestic perpetrators of terrorist acts on a daily basis. Much anticipated trials are due to take place in the coming months. Our panel of experts will discuss and compare how and why in France and in the United States these trials trigger so much interest and so many expectations. What role does the trial play for victims, beyond the judicial outcome itself, and how are victims involved in the judicial proceedings on both sides of the Atlantic? Do these trials have a role to play in terms of collective catharsis and in the writing of history? Can the trial, the main function of which is to try suspects, fulfill all these expectations?

Panel   Anthony Sadler, one of the “heroes of the Thalys attack” in 2015
Leonie Brinkema, judge of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
Jean-François Ricard, France’s first national anti-terrorist prosecutor
Denis Salas, judge and essayist
Moderator   Sonia Dridi, journalist at France 24
 
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April 15, 2021

Notre-Dame de Paris: Rebuilding a Legacy

On the second anniversary of the devastating fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, the Embassy of France in the United States will welcome you to a special French Series devoted to the monument, its history and the reconstruction efforts.

Panel   Peter Kovler, philanthropist and major donor to the reconstruction efforts
Olivier Latry, organist
Stephen Murray, historian at Columbia University
Michel Picaud, President of Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris
Moderator   Philip Kennicott from the Washington Post
 
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March 8, 2021

Gender Equality: Testimonies from Women in Leadership

On International Women’s day join the embassies of France and Mexico in the United States for a fascinating conversation on gender equality!

Panel   Alice Albright, CEO Global Partnership for Education
Janet Murguia, President & CEO UnidosUS
Cecile Richards, Activist and Co-founder of Supermajority
Teresa Romero, President United Farm Workers
Moderator   Steve Clemons, editor at large at The Hill
 
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February 2, 2021

A conversation with David H. Petraeus

The Embassy of France in the U.S. is honored to welcome retired U.S. Army General and former CIA director David H. Petraeus

Guest   General David H. Petraeus served over 37 years in the U.S. military, culminating his career with six consecutive commands, five of which were in combat, including command of the 101st Airborne Division during the fight to Baghdad and the first year in Iraq, command of the Multinational Security Transition Command in Iraq, command of coalition forces in Iraq during the Surge, command of U.S. Central Command, and command of coalition forces in Afghanistan. Following retirement from the military and after Senate confirmation by a vote of 94-0, he served as Director of the CIA during a period of significant achievements in the global war on terror, the establishment of important Agency digital initiatives, and significant investments in the Agency’s most important asset, its human capital.
Moderator   David Ignatius, Washington Post
 
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French Series 2020

 "America in the world: A History of U.S. Diplomacy and Foreign Policy" – A virtual book talk with Robert Zoellick

December 10, 2020

"America in the world: A History of U.S. Diplomacy and Foreign Policy" – A virtual book talk with Robert Zoellick

The Embassy of France in the U.S. is pleased to invite you to a conversation with Robert Zoellick, former President of the World Bank, about his latest book: America in the world: A History of U.S. Diplomacy and Foreign Policy.

The book identifies five traditions that have emerged from America’s encounters with the world: the importance of North America; the importance of trading, transnational, and technological relations; changing attitudes toward alliances; the importance of public support; and the belief that American policy should serve a larger purpose.

Guest   Robert B. Zoellick has served as Deputy Secretary of State, U.S. Trade Representative, and President of the World Bank. Earlier in his career, Zoellick served as Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury and Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House and Assistant to President George W. Bush. Zoellick is now a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Moderator   Steve Clemons, editor at large at The Hill
 
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French Series 2019

 Di[gi]plomacy
 News Consumption in the Digital Era
 Artificial Intelligence for the Benefit of Humans

May 21, 2019

Di[gi]plomacy

For centuries, embassies had a monopoly when it came to transmitting information from one country to another. But with the advent of new means of communication, international relations are no longer the exclusive province of diplomats. Social networks have become important channels of information in which many different influences play out in foreign affairs, allowing non-state actors to become involved in the communication between states.

What are the consequences of the digital revolution on diplomacy and related geopolitical challenges? Has cyberspace altered international relations? What, today, is the role of traditional diplomacy in foreign policy? Are expectations of transparency in government decision-making and widespread communication positive developments for diplomacy? How does public opinion shape diplomatic action?

Panel   Moira Whelan, Founding Partner of BlueDot Strategies and Leader of the Digital Diplomacy Coalition team in D.C. Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Digital Strategy at the US State Department
Priya Doshi, Professorial Lecturer of Public Relations at American University’s School of Communication
James Barbour, Director at Hill + Knowlton Strategies and former UK and European Union diplomat.
Moderator   John Hudson, National Security Reporter at The Washington Post
 
 

May 2, 2019

News Consumption in the Digital Era

The role played by digital technology in how we consume information has upset old balances and shaken up the news market. Pure players – exclusively online media whose digital platforms were once an advantage, and which profited from online advertising and subscribers, now find themselves facing new challenges, given the resurgent appeal of the most respected print brands and the monopoly of digital giants.

Can different methods of consuming news co-exist? What does the future hold for pure players, in the face of the digital giants? Would improved remuneration for print media and copyright protections from digital giants safeguard the freedom of the press? Has investigative journalism become the main weapon against disinformation?

Panel   Amy Mitchell, Director of Journalism Research at the Pew Research Center
Peter Fatelnig, Minister Counsellor for Digital Economy Policy at the Delegation of the European Union to the U.S.
Allison Rockey, Executive Editor and Director of Editorial Strategy at Vox
Moderator   Alexander Marquardt, Senior National Correspondent for CNN
 
 

March 14, 2019

Artificial Intelligence for the Benefit of Humans

Recent years have seen astonishing advances in artificial intelligence technology, which is becoming inescapable in every sector – especially medical research, the economy, defense, the environment and transportation. With AI on the verge of revolutionizing our societies, controlling and managing it are vital to safeguarding national sovereignty and respect for human beings.

What are the economic, scientific and ethical stakes of artificial intelligence? Will humans become obsolete in certain industries? Can we hope to see the creation of new jobs? Will AI affect our democracy by exploiting our personal data? How can we create an artificial intelligence that is responsible and respectful of human rights on a global scale? What controls and limits can be placed on artificial intelligence so that it becomes a tool for the benefit of humanity?

Panel   Dr. Cara LaPointe, Adjunct Professor and Senior Fellow at the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University. Creator of the Blockchain Ethical Design Framework
Jeffrey Brown, Manager, Future of Work & Artificial Intelligence at the Bertelsmann Foundation
Alan Davidson, Vice President for Global Policy, Trust and Security at Mozilla
Nicolas Economou, Chief Executive of H5 and Chair of Law and Society Initiative at The Future Society
Moderator   Steve LeVine, Future Editor at Axios
 

French Series 2018

 How to Reform Multilateralism to Support Peace?
 A World War I paradox: Humaneness in the midst of total war
 Societies facing terrorism
 Disinformation and democracies

December 18, 2018

How to Reform Multilateralism to Support Peace?

While international cooperation is under threat and we are facing increasing challenges, President Macron has proposed holding the Paris Peace Forum from November 11 to 13. The joint statement with the international organizations published on November 14 strongly reaffirms that: “Working together multilaterally is not optional; it is the only answer.”

However, the current multilateral system is unconvincing and is facing growing criticism in the context of isolationism and the rise of populism.

How should multilateralism be remodeled in order to more effectively address current challenges to peace? How can we ensure inclusion through a free and fair system in the areas of trade, climate change and security – including cybersecurity? How do we define a common agenda to reinforce multilateral relationships or institutions, like NATO?

Panel   Ambassador Victoria Nuland, Chief Executive Officer at the Center for a New American Security
Stewart M. Patrick, Senior Fellow in Global Governance and Director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program at the Council on Foreign Relations
Ambassador of France to the United States Gérard Araud
Moderator   Jonathan Tepperman, Editor-in-Chief of Foreign Policy
 
 

November 14, 2018

A World War I paradox: Humaneness in the midst of total war

To commemorate the Centennial of the end of World War I, the Embassy of France is pleased to invite you to the screening of The American in Paris: The True story of the American Hospital of Paris.

The documentary tells the story of American volunteers in France during the First World War. Centered on the American Hospital of Paris, the film shows how thousands of doctors, nurses, and ambulance drivers stepped up to help France and, in doing so, strengthened the historic ties between the two countries.

The screening will be followed by a conversation.

Panel   Michel Bernard, French writer and senior official
John Crawford, Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Hospital of Paris and architect of the film
Moderator   Olivier Barrot, French journalist, writer and professor
 
 

October 16, 2018

Societies facing terrorism

Almost two decades after 9/11 and two years after the Paris attacks, the United States and Europe have both faced the tragedy of international terrorism. These traumatic events have had both immediate and long-term effects on societies, public opinion and political orientations. Much has been written and said about terrorist violence and a lot less about how societies are still recovering from it.

What do we call resilience? What are the signs of a resilient society? Has this resilience evolved since 9/11? Are societies’ emotional reactions evolving from one attack to another and what are governments doing to meet expectations? What role is the media playing today in that recovery process?

Panel   Professor Bruce Hoffman, Director of the Center for Security Studies and tenured Professor at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service
Gérôme Truc, Sociologist, tenured Research Fellow at The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and member of the Institut des Sciences sociales du Politique
Dr. Stephen Flynn, Founding Director of the Global Resilience Institute and Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University
Moderator   Vivian Salama, White House Reporter for The Wall Street Journal
 
 

September 26, 2018

Disinformation and democracies

How can we make our democracies resilient against disinformation?

The threat posed by the manipulation of information has sparked growing awareness and concern in both Europe and the U.S. The manipulation of information can polarize debates, create or deepen tensions in society and undermine electoral systems. Such malign practices and actors harm our democracies by eroding trust in institutions and in the media, and eventually by hampering the ability of citizens to make informed decisions. Sometimes, though, attempts by a foreign entity to interfere in democratic processes fail, as was the case during the 2017 French presidential election.

What lessons can be learned from successful experiences of countering disinformation campaigns? How can we address the issues of fake news and disinformation campaigns while preserving our democratic values? How can we make democratic societies and media more resilient against disinformation? How can transatlantic cooperation be strengthened to combat the manipulation of information? Should social media be regulated?

Panel   John F. Lansing, Chief Executive Officer and Director of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (formerly the Broadcasting Board of Governors)
Dipayan Ghosh, Pozen Fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard Kennedy School
Jean-Baptiste J. Vilmer, Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies (French Ministry for Armed Forces)
Moderator   Indira Lakshmanan, Executive Editor of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and Columnist for The Boston Globe