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Janine Spencer Named to Napoleonic Academic Order

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May 16, 2006 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Janine Spencer, assistant chair of French in Northwestern University's department of French and Italian and director of the Multimedia Learning Center (MMLC), was named to the Order of the French Academic Palms in early May in a ceremony conducted by the cultural attachée of the Chicago French Consulate.

Founded almost 200 years ago by Napoleon Bonaparte, entry is awarded for devotion and accomplishment in teaching, scholarship and research. Spencer was honored for creating Internef, a Web site for the continuing education of American teachers of French, and other activities designed to broaden scholarship and understanding of French culture.

Internef offers opportunities for teachers to improve their language skills and expand their knowledge of French culture as well as encourage them to incorporate new technologies in their teaching practices. Thousands of American teachers and many French instructors around the world have been involved in the project Spencer led.

In 1998, Northwestern's French program and MMLC were awarded a grant from the French Embassy to develop online teaching units that revolve around videos produced by the MMLC under Spencer's leadership. Spencer has since taught a special course on Internef to a select group of French teachers from school districts in and around Chicago.

With grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Florence Gould Foundation, Northwestern Alumnae Association and the Hewlett Fund for Curricular Innovation, Spencer produced a documentary on Picpus, a historic cemetery in Paris. In doing so, she compiled a wealth of material that could not be included in the documentary but was of value to students and teachers of French culture.

This material led Spencer to her current project, development of the Picpus Digital Archive, an archive that will give students an opportunity to examine original documents related to Picpus, the Reign of Terror and the Rothschild Hospital under the Vichy government.