Introducing the "Media and Politics" course

Interview with Emiliano Grossman
  • Photo: French 2017 Presidential Debate (ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP)Photo: French 2017 Presidential Debate (ERIC FEFERBERG / AFP)

Ever wondered just how much power the media really has over our elections? Pr. Emiliano Grossman can help answer this complex question, and many others, in his class "Media and Politics". Read our interview with him to know more about the course he is teaching in the June session.

The role of the media in politics has been a major story recently in many different countries.  What are some of the case studies students will examine in your class?

The idea is to focus on participants' proximity to certain cases - linguistic or other. The past two years have been very rich in elections or referenda where media played a major role. This is true for the US election of November 2016 and the Brexit vote, of course, but also for the Dutch, French and German elections, the Czech presidential elections and certainly also for the upcoming Italian general election.

Beyond elections, it would be interesting to concentrate on policy case studies, e.g. focusing on how certain issues are mediatized and how mediatization affects public debate and ultimately public decision-making. A good case in line would be the introduction of gay marriage in several countries over the past ten years. Other issues where the media may play an interesting role are "moral issues", e.g. bioethical issues, or political scandals of all kinds. 

What type of tools will students learn in your course to analyze media discourse?

The course will tend to be divided into more theoretical and conceptual mornings and hands-on afternoons. The goal is to equip participants with a variety of tools of analysis. How far they go will depend a little bit on their prior knowledge of statistical software. 

On the more qualitative side, we will explore a couple of simple tools of textmining to analyse word frequencies, clusters, clouds and some sentiment analysis. Statistical software will allow to do this on larger batches and in a more automated manner. Depending on the general interest and prior knowledge of the group, we may go as far as exploring topic modelling. 

Last year, the Summer School included students from almost 60 different nationalities.  What will this international perspective bring to your class?

I believe this is fundamental. The discussion and comparison of a great variety of media systems is part of the academic goals of this course. The link between political institutions, type of government and media can only be explored through comparison. The more countries are represented among the students, the more we will be able to rely on personal experience to exemplify causal relationships and differences in media-state relations. And we will also be able to better understand the elements that are purely media-specific, i.e. independent from the political context and transnational.

What is the most important thing that students will get out of your class that will help them understand the media and politics in current events?

Students should leave the course with a good knowledge of the major trends in the media-politics relation. They should moreover be able to provide examples, gather data and analyze it to improve data-driven decision-making in the public or private sector. No matter the previous level of proficiency, the idea is to significantly improve your skills in this area. 

For more information, read the 2018 course overview for "Media and Politics".

Professor Biography

Emiliano Grossman is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Sciences Po, working at the Centre d'études européennes in Paris. He is originally from Argentina, but grew up in Germany before coming to France for university. He studied at Sciences Po, the LSE and the University of Cambridge. He teaches comparative politics, media and politics, and related subjects. At Sciences Po, he coordinates the program on "Politics and Public Policy" at the School of Public Affairs and co-directs the research axis on "Evaluating democracy" at LIEPP. He is also the co-editor of the European Journal of Political Research. His research concentrates on agenda-setting, political institutions and media, and politics. Currently, he is especially interested in the determinants of people's judgements of government performance and the way media influences policymaking.

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"Gender, Societies and Economics"

Interview with Hélène Périvier

Hélène Périvier is a researcher in economics at the OFCE at Sciences Po. She is currently the director of the research and academic programme on gender of Sciences Po, PRESAGE. Her research focuses mainly on social and family policies and gender inequalities. She also works on discrimination processes and on the evaluation of public policies. At the Sciences Po Summer School, she teaches the elective course "Gender, Societies and Economics" in the July session.

What is the main purpose of your course on "Gender, Societies and Economics"?

Through the lens of gender studies, I try to introduce students to the field of social sciences as a whole and to show them what these disciplines can bring to the study of gender. My aim is neither feminist nor ideological. Of course, I am a feminist, but I am not there to voice my opinion: I really want to emphasize the controversies surrounding this question. There is no such thing as a single "gender theory", but there are debates and discussions between researchers holding differing views.

I give my students all kinds of works realized in the field of social sciences and that shed light on the complex interactions between men and women: we confront and compare sociological, psycho-sociological or economic studies. I always pay special attention to dialogue and exchanges in this course. It is the best way to question commonplace and seemingly self-evident "truths".

What kind of topics do you address in this course?

We work on different case studies, including very current topics. It can be Apple and Facebook that decided to cover the cost of egg freezing for their female employees. This example is very telling; it calls into question our relationship to reproduction policies, women’s control over their bodies and what favours or restrains their emancipation.

Typically, we also address topics such as co-educational schooling: several studies seem to indicate that co-educational schools lead to a strengthening of gender norms. In certain underprivileged areas, boys would for instance drop out of school and build their sense of masculinity upon academic failure. In higher education, we also found out that Women’s Colleges, which are very prestigious in the United States, get more female students into scientific careers. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we should reconsider co-education; segregation may not be the right solution either!

I sometimes use cinema as a starting point for reflexion: should we consider "Game of Thrones", which often depicts rape or prostitution, as a sexist or as a feminist series? To make their point, students can refer to various studies on the representations of femininity and masculinity, on the question of sexuality or on the uniformity of female characters – the idea that there would only be one type of "ideal woman".

You have already been teaching this course at the Summer School for a couple of years. At the end of the session, what feedback do you usually get from your students?

The first part of the class focuses on the controversies surrounding the question "What is Gender"? For students with no previous background in gender studies, this part of the course can open up a whole new field - a field that is often much richer than they would have imagined!

But gender studies are not exclusively focused on the question of femininity and masculinity. They are also related to our social organization and social hierarchies, to the division of labour and the efficiency of public policies. For students who already have some knowledge of gender studies, the socio-economic dimension of the course can enrich their reflexion: it gives them concrete arguments - figures, measures - to support their points. They also gain concrete tools to understand issues such as women’s participation in the job market, wage inequality or economic exploitation – topics that can be quite challenging for them!

What is your analysis of the current trends in terms of women’s rights?

We still haven’t solved the problem of the sexual division of labour. In developed countries, there was a widespread movement of women emancipation in the 1970s and 1980s. But nowadays, the context is less favourable: we have reached a kind of stagnation, a status quo in terms of wage inequality and women’s access to leadership positions. In Europe, we are bogged down in a social structure that we are having difficulties reforming: France, for instance, is not able to overhaul its family policies and family law.

In some countries, there is even a backlash in terms of women’s fundamental rights – a trend in which the resurgence of religions plays a certain part. Poland is one of the countries that is backtracking on those rights, and the European Union’s inability to raise women’s rights to the status of fundamental requirements is worrying. It is the question of universality: shouldn’t Europe hold and defend universal values, and have the authority to impose them on its Member States?

But we should remain optimistic: in a country like Spain, women took to the streets to demonstrate against a draft law negating the right to abortion, and the governments yielded. This hopeful examples shows that, in many countries, political institutions and "checks and balances" work well; and that these acquired rights are firmly rooted in society.

To learn more about Hélène Périvier’s elective course at the Summer School, download the course overview for "Gender, Societies and Economics" (PDF, 457 Kb).

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Reims, Paris, Strasbourg

A tale of three cities
Pre-College Programme
  • Paris, Strasbourg and ReimsParis, Strasbourg and Reims

Summer is a time for discovery: not only intellectual, but also cultural discoveries. Participants in the Pre-College Programme will have the chance to live in both Reims and Paris, and spend a weekend in the historic city of Strasbourg.

Discovering Reims

Did you know that, for over a thousand years, Reims served as the coronation site of the French monarchy? This is only one of the many stories underpinning the city’s rich heritage, which started as a Roman colony and ended up today as the heart of the world-famous Champagne region. As a result, Reims boasts an impressive architectural heritage, from its renowned cathedral and world-famous vineyards to its Art Deco architecture. 

But history doesn’t stop at the Sciences Po campus’ doorstep: the Reims campus is housed in a former Jesuit college dating from the 17th century. This remarkable site makes for an inspiring study environment, where history is encountered at every step, from the old Jesuit library to the monumental staircases…

Exploring Paris

Montmartre, the Musée d'Orsay, l'Ile de Cité and the Pont des Arts… Who has never dreamt of studying in the City of Lights?

During the last week of the programme, participants have the opportunity to stroll the streets of Paris and visit its many landmarks. They will view the capital from its best vantage point during a Seine river cruise, admire artistic masterpieces in Paris’s museums, and explore the capital’s historic neighbourhoods. They may even get the chance to discover lesser-known areas in Paris and learn some of its well-guarded secrets…

Visiting Strasbourg

With its medieval cityscape and Venice-like canals, Strasbourg may well be one of France’s most charming cities!

For a whole weekend, students and their counsellors will explore the historic city centre, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site: They will roam the twisting alleys of the Vieux Centre, lined with crooked half-timbered houses, and walk along canals in la Petite France, all while discovering a city that has been at the crossroads of Europe for centuries.

Last but not least, students will discover the glittering EU Quarter, home to many institutions such as the European Parliament and the Council of Europe: a perfect way to conclude their first week of courses, dedicated to European narratives and integration!

Learn more about life outside the classroom in the Pre-College Programme.

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Read Marc's testimonial

Pre-College Programme
  • Students in the courtyard of the Reims campus (photo: Manuel Braun)Students in the courtyard of the Reims campus (photo: Manuel Braun)

Marc is a 16 year-old high school student in Barcelona, Spain, and an alumni from the last Pre-College Programme edition. In this interview, he shares some of the highlights of his stay at Sciences Po. 

What has been your experience studying in France?

"France is not so far from where I come from: it is only an hour and a half by car. However, living and studying there offered things that I just can’t find back home. The French educational system is much more devoted to reflection and critical thinking than to memorising concept and it is quite different to mine."

What did you learn at Sciences Po?

"The structure of the programme was both original and practical. We were introduced to different disciplines within the field of social sciences and had the chance to examine current issues such as European integration or peacebuilding. As an elective course, I chose to study the French language and thoroughly enjoyed the lessons.

Throughout the programme, we also explored ideas and authors that have helped me better analyze recent events in my country: in the debates surrounding Catalan independence, concepts such as nation, nation-state and self-determination are key to understanding what is at stake. One of the most important contributions of the Summer School has been the study of concepts and ideas that are relevant to my political reality."

And what about the encounters you made?

"That’s one of the things that impressed me the most - and to this day I’m still thankful for it: the programme gave me the oportunity to meet people from all around the world and I still keep in touch with many of them. We all had different nationalities, different languages, different lifestyles but the atmosphere at the Summer School couldn’t be more welcoming! We had the opportunity to feel part of one big community. Weeks after we all left, many of us still keep in touch and comment on our daily lives, on political topics or on our applications."

Retrospectively, what would you say you have gained from these two weeks?

"Looking back at these two weeks gives me an intense feeling of nostalgia. First of all, it gave meaning to the days when I was preparing my application, writing my motivations and asking for recommendation letters. I still remember the feeling of joy when I was accepted in the programme.

And it didn’t disappoint me: I gained friends, knowledge and many, many memories. I gained a whole experience that, frankly, can’t compare to anything that came before. I had never experienced such a different educational system, met people from so many nationalities or immersed myself in daily life in a different country. Now I’m back here, in Barcelona, but something has changed in my mindset and I can only be thankful to Sciences Po for that."

If you would like to know more about what our alumni have to say on their experience in the Pre-College Programme, read their testimonials on our Students page.

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Meet our Profs!

Jan Rovny on the European Union
  • European Parliament (Photo: Mehr Demokratie via Wikimedia Commons)European Parliament (Photo: Mehr Demokratie via Wikimedia Commons)

How did the European Union come to be and what is its future? Watch an interview with Prof. Jan Rovny, who teaches the class "The E.U. at a Crossroads" at the Summer School. 

Jan Rovny is an assistant professor at Sciences Po, Center for European Studies (CEE) and the Interdisciplinary Research Center for the Evaluation of Public Policies (LIEPP). His research concentrates on political competition in Europe with the aim of uncovering the ideological conflict lines in different countries.

In the Summer School's University Programme, he will teach the themes “History of the European Integration” and “The Political System of the E.U.”. To know more about the class "The E.U. at a Crossroads", read the 2018 course overview.

Jan Rovny will also be teaching the Master Class "European Integration: Calming a Conflicted Continent" in our summer Pre-College Programme.

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