Frequently Asked Questions

The Paris Institute for Critical Thinking (PICT) is a non-profit educational institution founded in 2018 and based in Paris, France.

The teaching and research at PICT are focused on the humanities and arts, which we regard as the natural home of critical thinking. The core of our academic program consists of our university-quality courses. These are complemented by a spectrum of other events including lectures, conferences, and workshops. Finally, we provide intellectual content for our global community through a range of podcasts, blogs, and videos as well as dePICTions, our own critical journal.

Our community welcomes participants from all backgrounds, regardless of profession, age, or educational level. All our offerings are in the English language.

PICT is registered with the French state as a non-profit educational association (association à but non lucratif, loi de 1901, RNA W751243904) and domiciled at the Maison de la Vie Associative et Citoyenne de Paris Centre – site Marais, 5 rue Perrée, 75003 Paris, France.

PICT is further registered with the French state as a provider of continuing professional education (organisme de formation professionnelle continue), registration no. 11755885775 (disclaimer: this registration does not constitute state endorsement).

PICT is an independent, non-profit institute with no state or corporate backing. Our administrative staff is entirely composed of volunteers. We rely on two sources of funding:

As a non-profit association registered with the French state, PICT invests all of its funding back into educational activities. The majority of enrollment fees are passed on directly to our instructors, without whose vision and dedication PICT would not exist.

We are currently transitioning from an enrollment model to a membership model; as soon as we reach our First 1000 members, enrollment fees will be abolished and PICT’s entire academic program will become free for members. (Enrolled participants receive automatic membership. If their course is ongoing when we reach the First 1000, they will have the option of having their enrollment fees reimbursed.)

The enrollment fee for each PICT course is indicated on the course page. You can switch courses or receive a full refund up to 1 month before classes begin. There is no refund or make-up session for individual classes missed by students.

The PICT team consists of:

  • Our Core Faculty, who assume key teaching and administrative duties at PICT.
  • Our Visiting Faculty, scholars who come to Paris from around the world to offer courses, workshops, lectures, and conferences at PICT.
  • Our Contributors from non-academic backgrounds, who enrich PICT with workshops and lectures as well as online content such as podcasts and blog posts.
  • Our Support Team, who assume a variety of technical and administrative duties at PICT.

All supporters of PICT are part of the PICT community. Apart from the PICT team, this includes:

  • Our Members, without whose membership contributions PICT cannot continue its work.
  • Our Participants, whose enrollment fees support PICT’s in-person activities such as courses, workshops, and scholarly tours until we reach our First 1000.
  • Our Audience, who follow and share our online content such as podcasts and blogs, and who help us reach more and more people around the world.

Once we reach a membership of 1000, PICT’s entire academic program will become free for all members. Our First 1000 will ensure that our instructors receive fair compensation while opening their courses to all PICT members regardless of financial background. The First 1000 will also ensure that PICT can continue to provide all its offerings that are free for members and non-members alike, such as podcasts, blogs, and public lectures. In short, the First 1000 will ensure the continued existence and growth of our global, independent, non-profit community of critical and creative thinking. 

Find out more about PICT membership and our roadmap to the First 1000 and beyond!

PICT courses are designed and taught by scholars who want to share their passionate research interests with the broader public. Our courses are academically rigorous, combining in-depth knowledge with seminar-style discussion. At the same time, our courses are accessible to participants of all educational levels—there are no prerequisites for enrolling in a PICT course except for good English skills.

PICT courses are capped at 10 students to guarantee lively participation. A standard course is 18 hours long and takes place over several weeks. The sessions are scheduled in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate working hours. Many PICT courses are joined by other PICT faculty members besides the instructor, increasing the level and quality of classroom discussion.

PICT is a pop-up institute that stages events and courses all over the city of Paris. Our regular venues include the PICT Headquarters in the 3rd arrondissement and the Maison de la Vie Associative et Citoyenne de Paris Centre — site Marais. Next to these, we cooperate with partner venues that are appropriate to each event, including the Sorbonne, the Goethe-Institut Paris, the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (FMSH), and many other notable Parisian institutions. You can find a full list of our partner organizations further below.

PICT rejects online teaching on principle. As we explain more fully in our 2021 Manifesto, we believe that the critical and creative communities enabled by our courses can only exist face to face.

In lieu of online teaching, which can never be a substitute for in-person education, PICT offers a range of free content specifically created for the internet, such as podcasts, blogs, and dePICTions, our critical journal.

Apart from its core course program, PICT offers a large and expanding range of activities and content.

For enrolled participants (until we reach our First 1000):

Free and open to the public:

Free for our global community:

To keep up with all new PICT events and content, please subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter!

PICT is registered with the French state as a provider of continued professional education (formation professionnelle continue).* Therefore, employees in France can ask their employers to reimburse them for PICT enrollment fees. Such employers can be private companies, but in the past, we have also welcomed high school teachers and Ph.D. students who were reimbursed by their schools and universities for taking a PICT course.

* Registration no. 11755885775. Disclaimer: this registration does not constitute state endorsement.

Each PICT course reserves one fellowship seat for participants who cannot afford to pay the full enrollment fee. If you wish to enroll in a PICT course but have financial difficulties, please contact us for our fellowship conditions.

PICT also aims to establish partnerships with public organizations engaged in housing, employment, and refugee aid. A number of fellowship seats will be reserved for participants referred by such organizations.

PICT cultivates a growing number of local, national, and international partnerships with:

  • Content partners such as cultural, artistic, and educational organizations
  • Venue partners such as municipal and cultural institutions, bookstores, and community centers

Our partners include:

  • Association of Former UNESCO Staff Members (AFUS)
  • Cambridge Society of Paris
  • Centre for Critical Thought, University of Kent
  • Collège d’Études Mondiales
  • École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (ENPC)
  • Fondation Biermans-Lapôtre
  • Fondation Danoise
  • Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (FMSH)
  • Goethe-Institut Paris
  • Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF)
  • London Group of Multilingual Writers (LGMW)
  • Maison de la Vie Associative et Citoyenne de Paris Centre — site Marais
  • Maison des Écrivains et de la Littérature
  • Maison des Étudiants Suedois
  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • San Francisco Books Paris
  • Shakespeare and Company
  • Sorbonne pour l’Organisation des Nations Unies (SONU)
  • The Abbey Bookshop

If you wish to propose a partnership between PICT and your organization, please contact us directly.