by Phil Bolton | May 17, 2012
The French government has honored Vicki Birchfield, associate professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, with the National Order of Merit medal in the rank of Knight.
Pascal Le Deunff, France’s consul general for the Southeast, presented Dr. Birchfield with the medal during a private ceremony at his residence in Atlanta on May 9.
Mr. Le Deunff praised her for "raising the international profile of Atlanta," and for strengthening mutual understanding between the American and the European views "during difficult times -- transatlantic trade disputes, political and diplomatic disagreements."
He also thanked her for her support of the Georgia Tech-Lorraine campus and activities in Metz, France, and "France-Atlanta" an annual series of events focused on innovation and co-presented by the French consulate and Georgia Tech to further scientific, economic, cultural and humanitarian ties between France and the Southeast.
Dr. Birchfield has served as director of the Brussels Summer Program and associate professor and director of the European Centre of Excellence at Georgia Tech.
She earned a diploma from the Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales in Geneva and her doctorate in political science from the University of Georgia. She also has a master’s degree in political science from Auburn University.
Dr. Birchfield has researched a wide variety of European issues including income inequality and social justice, consensus democracy and the global economy, the interplay of culture and politics and trade disputes between the U.S. and Europe.
In her remarks, Dr. Birchfield said that she started studying French during high school in Pell City, Ala. She specifically thanked her former professor Samia Spencer from Auburn University, who helped her with providing a course of study combining her interests in political science and French.
The ceremony was conducted on Europe Day in Atlanta and was attended by consuls general and honorary consuls representing European countries as well as members of Dr. Birchfield’s family.