- Classroom ©Sciences Po
As of September 2021, Sciences Po will be offering two new dual undergraduate degrees combining liberal arts and sciences. The newest of the university’s Bachelor of Arts and Sciences programmes, these brand new dual degrees are run in partnership with Université de Paris. They give students the opportunity to pair study of the social sciences with either mathematics, in the “Algorithms and Decisions” track, or life sciences, in the “Politics of Life and Identities”' track. Both degrees last four years and are taught in Paris, on the campuses of each partner university.
Sciences Po’s Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc) welcomed its first students in September 2020. The degree has now been enriched with the addition of two new tracks to choose from:
- The “Algorithms and Decisions” programme, combining the humanities and social sciences with maths at Université de Paris (UFR Mathematics degree).
- The “Politics of Life and Identities” programme, combining the humanities and social sciences with life sciences at Université de Paris (UFR Life Sciences degree).
There are now a total of four innovative and interdisciplinary dual undergraduate degrees on offer. The most recent tracks join those that opened in 2020: “Politics of the Earth” with the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, and “Environment, Society and Sustainability”, with the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne.
Innovative teaching with an interdisciplinary focus
Students on the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences take courses in key disciplines at Sciences Po and at the partner university, as well as courses specifically designed by academics from multiple disciplines. New course units prioritise learning through research, challenge and problem-solving, using interactive teaching methods that incorporate field work, debates and negotiation simulations.
Watch our interview with Nicolas Benvegnu, Director of the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences, prior to the launch of the programme in 2020:
Two new interdisciplinary dual degrees co-designed with Université de Paris
- Students on the dual Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences and Mathematics, specialising in “Algorithms and Decisions”, take courses in the social sciences at Sciences Po, courses for the Bachelor of Mathematics at Université de Paris (covering algebra, analysis, mathematical reasoning, introduction to programming etc.), as well as courses that merge both fields. These encourage students to take a cross-cutting view of mathematical principles, and the individual or collective choices linked to them, by considering, for example, numerical power structures or the role of risk and chance in public decision-making.
- The dual Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences and Life Sciences, specialising in “Politics of Life and Identities”, addresses the bioethical challenges raised by shifts in and manipulations of natural life. It explores biomedical research guided by current health policy, genetics and epigenetics, reproduction and procreation, and neuroscience. Students study life sciences at Université de Paris (molecular and cell biology, biodiversity and the evolution of living organisms, genetics etc.) and social sciences at Sciences Po. Issues at the intersection of human biology and political or social structures are explored through specific courses designed to unite the two disciplines (genetics and bioethics, the role of life sciences in biomedical research and so on).
Four dual degrees now open on Parcoursup
The Bachelor of Arts and Sciences is designed for undergraduates who perform as brilliantly in hard science subjects as in the humanities and social sciences. In their applications, students should be able to demonstrate a strong interest in tackling some of the key challenges facing societies today from a new and interdisciplinary perspective.
At the end of four years of study, one of which is spent abroad, students graduate with a Bachelor of Sciences (Life Sciences, Earth Sciences or Mathematics) from the partner institution and a Bachelor of Arts from Sciences Po. They will then have the option of continuing their studies within a science, social science or interdisciplinary Master’s programme. There are approximately 100 places available on the BASc for the academic year 2021-2022.
Find out more:
- Photo of the Nuremberg trial ©The U.S. federal government/Wikimedia Commons
On November 20th 2020, the Nuremberg trial’s opening, which provided the beginnings of international criminal justice, celebrated its 75th anniversary. Our Nancy campus commemorated this historical date by inviting Philip Sands, author of Retour à Lemberg, Astrid von Busekist, University Professor of Political Science, associated researcher at the Centre de recherches internationales (CERI) Sciences Po and Dr Viviane Dittrich, Deputy Director of the International Nuremburg Principles Academy. Relive the highlights of this fascinating seminar thanks to Martha Rosental, our second year student.
If you were standing in front of a criminal who organized the deportation and extermination of millions of people and you had his fate in your hands, what would you do? Would you treat this human being humanely even though he has scorned humanity? Or would you choose to inflict on him what he has inflicted on millions of individuals?
Seventy-five years ago, this was precisely the dilemma that the four victorious powers of the Second World War faced when they had to deal with the hundreds of thousands of Nazis of occupied Germany. At the time, the Allies tried to determine whether they should opt for bloodthirsty revenge or the submission of these war criminals to what they had tried to destroy with the most meticulous application: the rule of law.
In the field of international criminal justice, “all roads lead to Nuremberg” according to Philippe Sands, a Franco-British international lawyer specialising in the defence of Human Rights. In 2017, he published the book East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity, that was the subject of a conference organized by the Nancy campus on January 20, 2021 as part of the 75th anniversary of the Nuremberg Trial. The author was accompanied by Astrid von Busekist, who translated the French version of Sands’ book Retour à Lemberg, as well as by Viviane Dittrich, the Deputy Director of the International Nuremberg Principles Academy. In addition to presenting the work of Philippe Sands, this seminar provided an opportunity to relive the history of one of the founding trials of international criminal law.
A future shaping decision
Despite numerous debates as to the fate to be reserved for Nazi criminals, the Allies wanted at all costs to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, especially the failure of the Treaty of Versailles (1919) and of the Leipzig War Crimes Trials that followed (1921). Consequently, the Allies ended up choosing the prosecution and the punishment of the Nazi crimes though law rather than through vengeance. It was in this context that the Nuremberg Trial took place from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946. Despite the critics denouncing a victor’s justice as well as the impunity of the crimes that were committed by the Allies during the war, this "trial of the century" is often considered as the “birthplace of modern international criminal law”, according to the words of Viviane Dittrich. Indeed, in addition to charging 24 main war criminals with two already existing crimes - Crimes against Peace and War Crimes - it was the first prosecution in history for Crimes against Humanity, which symbolised a major legal novelty. Thus, the Nuremberg Trial established itself as a trial of reference, while defining major principles of international law affirmed in 1946 by the United Nations in the General Assembly Resolution 95.
For these reasons, Philippe Sands' first words at the conference underscored the crucial role of the Nuremberg Trial in the history of international criminal law. Then, he raised the subtle link between the trial and his book, which combines the author's desire to put words on the silences that weighed on the history of his maternal family on the one hand, with the discovery of disconcerting historical coincidences on the other hand.
Carrying a message
In 2010, Philippe Sands gave a lecture in Lviv, the city where his grandfather Leon Buchholz had spent his childhood before having to flee to Vienna in 1914. This city, located on the eastern periphery of the Auto-Hungarian Empire, has undergone many political and geographical upheavals, so that the city has known four different names in the course of history: Lemberg, then Lwów, then Lvov, then Lemberg again, and finally Lviv.
Lviv, erstwhile Lemberg, the city holding Philippe Sands' family secrets. Lviv, erstwhile Lemberg, the city where two of the fathers of international law, Hersch Lauterpacht and Raphael Lemkin, studied in the inter-war period, later conceptualizing respectively the notions of "crime against humanity" and "genocide", which both occupied a central place at the Nuremberg Trial. Lviv, the city where the “butcher of Poland” Hans Frank, Hitler’s preeminent legal adviser who was sentenced to death in Nuremberg, publicly announced in 1942 the mass murder of the Jewish population, which included the families of Leon, Hersch and Raphael. Lviv, the cradle of the maternal family of the author, a descendant of Holocaust survivors who became an international lawyer, happens to connect to the history of one of the founding trials of international criminal law.
More about Sciences Po
- All you need to know about the Sciences Po Undergraduate College
It’s that time of year again! Sciences Po has been live to answer all the questions you may have about our programmes, admission procedures, courses, student life and so on!
Are you currently in high school and interested in attending college abroad? Sciences Po offers a 3-year bachelor’s degree programme in the social sciences and humanities. You may have questions about our undergraduate college, international admission procedure, life on campus, etc.
Watch the replays
Q&A session in English, 29 January 2021
- Tilman Turpin - Reims campus director;
- Emmi Nulpponen - Student, Menton campus.
Q&A session in French, 18 January 2021
- Stéphanie Balme - Dean of the Undergraduate College; ;
- Gabriela Crouzet - Director of Admissions;
- Charles Reinhart - Student, Poitiers campus
Find out more
- Open House Day Undergraduate College
Discover Sciences Po and our Bachelor's degree in the Humanities & Social Sciences! You can pursue your undergraduate studies at Sciences Po on any one of our 7 campuses all over France. Learn more about the programme, courses and all the benefits of studying at one of France's leading universities.
This open house day event will be online only to allow as many people as possible to participate despite possible health restrictions. No visitors will be welcomed on our campuses.
- Open House Day Undergraduate College 2020
Our 2020 Undergraduate Open Day attracted 12,000 online visitors on Saturday, 14 November. If you were unable to attend the various workshops, below are some videos to watch on replay that will give you some essential information about Sciences Po, our undergraduate programme, and our new admissions procedure.
Welcome by Bénédicte Durand, Vice President of Academic Affairs: "Be Bold, Be You, Become a Student of Sciences Po"
What Do Undergraduates Study at Sciences Po?
Stéphanie Balme, Dean of the Undergraduate College, discusses the academics of the three or four years that lead to the bachelor's degree and talks with former students of the college.
Attend Sciences Po in Fall 2021; Why not me? (In French)
> Applying to one of Sciences Po's Graduate Schools for a Master's degree? Attend our virtual Graduate Open House Day on 28 November, 2020.
- Stéphanie Balme, Dean of the Undergraduate College ©Thomas Arrivé / Sciences Po
Multidisciplinarity. The third year abroad. History. Political Science. Studying in Paris. Studying outside Paris. Every student has their own reason to pursue their undergraduate studies at Sciences Po. So what are the social sciences and humanities that are taught at Sciences Po? What can this education lead to in the future? We interviewed Stéphanie Balme, Dean of the Undergraduate College, about Sciences Po’s distinctive education style.
What is unique about the three-year bachelor’s degree, also known as the undergraduate college?
Stéphanie Balme: We are a social science and humanities-centred university, and we believe that these disciplines establish a solid foundation to make an impact in the world in the 21st century. This is the degree’s singularity, which is simultaneously a result of Sciences Po’s history and the manner in which we anticipate our students’ futures. We would like them to become engaged citizens in their adult and professional lives. To this end, the studies we offer combine specialised and multidisciplinary teaching, openness to the world, and a commitment to community service - without forgetting the unique network of our seven campuses in France, each with their own geographical focus.
The class of 2020 was the first to have experienced the newly-created curriculum, which was launched in 2017. What does the student journey look like now?
S.B.: The first year is based on a core curriculum anchored in five disciplines: economics, history, law, political science, and sociology. This coursework offers an introduction to each of these disciplines. A sixth discipline, political humanities, is also a core focus of our curriculum, based on the traditions of our university that date back to the creation of Sciences Po in 1872. In the second year, students continue to receive a multidisciplinary education, while progressively specialising their study.
What does this mean in concrete terms?
S.B.: Students choose one of three possible majors, that propose different fields of study and that are articulated around two core disciplines. Students are guided to root their knowledge in academic methods specific to each major as well. While the Politics & Government major is embedded in the traditional fields of Sciences Po’s DNA in Law and Political Science, nearly two thirds of our student body choose to study in the Economy & Society and Political Humanities majors for in-depth study with contemporary relevance. To give you a concrete example of what this looks like, a student pursuing the Economy & Society major on our Le Havre campus may take a multidisciplinary course in the sociological history of capitalism for fundamental perspectives and complement these with a workshop in intermediate methods in applied math for economists. During the third year abroad, students can also fine tune further to only one of the two core disciplines, if desired.
Are there still core curriculum requirements in the second year?
S.B.: Yes– students build on their common foundation from the first year of the degree with a course in 20th and 21st century history. In addition, all students complete two courses – “Science & Society” and “Cultures and Challenges of the Digital World” – that analyse the intersections and impacts of science and digital cultures in contemporary contexts. The second-year core curriculum offers opportunities to conduct research projects and deepen knowledge while creating common ground for students, who come from over 150 countries and sometimes have radically different cultural backgrounds!
Another Sciences Po tradition is the study of foreign languages. Is it possible to pursue the bachelor’s degree without speaking French?
S.B.: Mais oui! We’ve adopted an idea that originates from Scandinavian universities: all non-Francophone students take French language classes during the programme so as to become fluent in both working languages of our institution. Once mastered, students are encouraged to go further and take full advantage of the foreign languages we offer, by studying one of the multiple languages relevant to their academic interests. As an example of how this plays out, a student pursuing their BA on the Menton Campus may study Arabic for four semesters in order to finitely analyse the dynamics in Middle East-Europe relations.
The other major pillar of the bachelor’s degree is the Civic Learning Programme. Why was the programme created and what are its objectives?
S.B.: Via the Civic Learning Programme students engage in a mission to serve others and simultaneously are given an opportunity to learn about their own individual strengths and weaknesses. The idea is to anchor oneself in one’s society and surroundings. However, it is crucial to understand the context of one’s engagement that goes beyond volunteering. At the end of the degree, students complete a capstone oroject which aims to consolidate the theories studied over the course of the three years of study, and the first-hand experience they gained in their respective fields of engagement.
How would you describe the ideal graduate of this bachelor's degree? What are their qualities? What will they have learned?
S.B.: We want graduates to be capable of analysing the major issues in our society from multiple perspectives. Sciences Po’s method trains students to go to the furthest extent of knowledge possible on any given subject. Our university seeks to encourage graduates who are capable of adapting themselves to different contexts and methods. It is this transition from one method to another that encourages creativity and recognizing that ultimately the most important thing is to know is how to ask the most appropriate questions.
- Are you a high school student interested in studying at Sciences Po? Consult our admissions calendar
- Visit Sciences Po during one of our open house days on the regional campuses
- Visit the undergraduate college website
- Undergraduate Admissions Procedure 2021 © Sandrine Gaudin / Sciences Po
Starting in 2021, all applicants to Sciences Po’s undergraduate college - whether French or international - will follow the same admissions procedure. A multifaceted assessment consisting of four evaluations, with clear, transparent and identical criteria, in order to select the best talents. Explanations below.
Applying for Sciences Po Bachelor’s degree: one procedure for all
At Sciences Po, we consider each candidate as a singular individual with a unique combination of talents, interests and passions. There is no such thing as a "good" or "bad" profile. We choose students for who they really are, and we want each and every one of them, regardless of their origins, secondary school, social and economic background, and academic journey to have the same opportunity to show their potential and convince our jury.
This is why, starting in 2021, all candidates - whether French or international - will be evaluated in the same ways, on identical criteria. The evaluations are demanding, and require diverse and complementary qualities. The evaluation criteria is also clear and transparent in order to give all the best talents a chance to be selected.
A chance to shine under different lights: four separate evaluations
The new admissions procedure consists of four separate evaluations, common to all candidates. This plural assessment ensures that admission be granted to students who have achieved academic excellence throughout their secondary education, confirmed by the results on their Baccalaureate exam or equivalent, who know how to present themselves and express their motivations in writing, and are able to convince the jury in an interview.
The first three evaluations constitute the application. Complete and rigorous, the application allows all candidates to demonstrate the diversity of their academic qualities and extra-curricular activities, their proficiency and their complementarity. The evaluation of this application results in three marks out of 20:
- A mark out of 20 for the performance on the French Baccalaureate exams or its foreign equivalent
- A mark out of 20 for the academic performance of the candidate over the final three years of secondary school, which takes into account all marks obtained, but also progress made by the student during his or her academic career, remarks and appreciations from teachers, and the socio-economic situation of the school.
- A mark out of 20 on three essays: a personal statement in which the candidate describes his or her activities and areas of interest, another in which he or she defends his or her motivations and choice to apply to Sciences Po, and an essay.
These three marks out of 20 are added up to give a mark out of 60. In order to proceed to the next step, the candidate must have obtained a mark equal to or higher than the minimum mark, which Sciences Po defines each year.
Candidates who have obtained the necessary mark may move on to the interview, which is the fourth and final evaluation for admission. This meeting between the institution and the candidate is an essential part of the admissions procedure. The interview provides a new perspective on the application, which is decorrelated from the other evaluations since the examiners do not have access to the application. The candidate must demonstrate his or her ability to conduct an exchange, his or her attitude in response to questions posed, and the strength of his or her potential for success. The interview takes place remotely, and consists of three sequences:
- The candidate introduces him/herself
- The candidate is asked to choose between 2 images which he/she will comment and analyse
- The candidate and the examiners will discuss his or her motivations
After the interview, which is also graded out of 20, the jury adds up the 4 marks out of 20 for a final admission mark out of 80. Candidates must reach or exceed a minimum admission mark, set by Sciences Po each year, in order to be admitted and become a Sciences Po student.
Each of the four evaluations carry equal weight in the admission decision: it is the articulation of all the results that qualifies the candidate or not. The oral mark complements the other three marks obtained in the application phase. The candidates selected are chosen for their ability to shine in different and complementary lights.
One procedure, two platforms
All applicants are assessed against the same expectations. French and international secondary school students follow the same procedure, using two different platforms: Parcoursup for those preparing a French Baccalaureate, and Sciences Po's admissions portal for those preparing a foreign secondary school diploma.
A selection of the best talents
The choice to select students with diverse talents has been at the heart of Sciences Po's educational principles since its creation. This new procedure reinforces and supports our ambition for an education that values openness, adaptability, critical thinking and the ability to create bridges between disciplines.
Furthering social and geographic diversity
This new admissions procedure, with evaluation criteria that values academic performance and extracurricular activities, is designed to give a fair chance to all candidates, in all their diversity and for whichever field in which they may excel. We know from experience that it is not enough to invoke diversity for it to exist in practice, no more than decreeing equal opportunities for them to be realistic.
For twenty years, Sciences Po has implemented a unique commitment to social and geographic diversity in French higher education. Today, our policy has driven our student body to be made up of 25% CROUS scholarship students, 49% international students, and nearly four in 10 students receiving financial aid. Our decision to combine our admissions procedures, redefine our evaluation criteria, and be present on the Parcoursup platform, is a demonstration of our ambition to take our equal opportunity policy even further. Thanks to this reform, Sciences Po will increase the number of CROUS scholarship students to 30% of each new undergraduate class, instead of 25% today.
Find out more
- Näel Soilen, student on the Poitiers campus ©Sciences Po
Although the kick-off to a new academic year has never quite looked like this one due to the enduring health crisis, our new and returning undergraduate students showed resilience, determination and excitement as they set foot on our seven campuses for their welcome sessions and first in-person classes of the fall 2020 semester.
Dual degree programmes, interdisciplinarity, international outlooks and perspectives, the study of foreign languages: our new students chose Sciences Po for the right reasons. No matter their undergraduate programme’s geographic focus, they are all embarking on an academic and personal journey that will take them through a profound study of the social sciences and humanities, building bridges between disciplines and opening their minds to unleash their talent and set them on a path to make the changes they hope to see in the world.
Thanks to our dual campus model, all of our students are able to attend classes in person or remotely. Our staff is mobilised to ensure that safety measures and health regulations are strictly respected at all times on our campuses in order to guarantee academic continuity. Click here for more information related to Covid-19 health measures and recommendations.
Undergraduate Students At a Glance
1,960 new undergraduate students were admitted to Sciences Po for the 2020-21 academic year.
This year, a total of 6,704 students are studying at our undergraduate college, with a breakdown per campus as follows:
- 1,757 on the Paris campus
- 1,384 on the Reims campus
- 491 on the Le Havre campus
- 486 on the Nancy campus
- 387 on the Menton campus
- 313 on the Poitiers campus
- 260 on the Dijon campus
- Overview: Sciences Po Facts & Figures
- Undergraduate Studies at Sciences Po
- Bachelor Open House Day 2020
- A New Online Campus Starting Fall 2020
- Keep Learning: Sciences Po's Transition Online
- Back-to-School 2020: A Dual Campus Model
- Dual Campus: 3 Questions on Hybrid Teaching
- Delphine Grouès ©Thomas Arrivé / Sciences Po
After a a swift transition online due to the Covid-19 crisis last spring semester, the fall semester is starting at Sciences Po on a new "dual campus" model, with courses reinvented and taking on new formats. A few days before the start of the academic year which is set for 14 September 2020, we interviewed Delphine Grouès, Dean of the Institute for Skills and Innovation, on the pedagogical innovations of this new dual campus.
What is a “hybrid teaching method”?
Delphine Grouès: The principle of hybridity as it is developed at Sciences Po is not just a mix between face-to-face and remote teaching, or between real-time and asynchronous class time. Hybridity is also in the diversity of methods and activities, the multiplicity of modes of interaction, and the integration of specificities in service of a common institutional project. The outline of each and every programme we offer has been reviewed in its structure in order to integrate redesigned training and creative approaches.
Are all courses going to be taught in a “flipped classroom”?
DG: The well-known “flipped classroom” method is one of the interesting formats for this kind of pedagogy: it consists in providing learning resources beforehand and then devoting class time (whether remote or in-person) to interactions (discussions, role-playing scenarios, other structured activities). But this is not the only possible format. There are also “reversed classrooms”, which go further by putting the students in the role of the teacher, in which they produce material and present it in class, thus developing their critical thinking, selection and analytical skills and ability to restitute knowledge. We propose a variety of formats and methods to professors: it's up to them to choose the one that suits them best for their course. This weaving of diverse educational methods directly linked to the course objectives and programmes is one of the keys to impactful and effective teaching.
What support do you offer professors?
DG: As soon as Sciences Po was closed for the lockdown, the Institute of Skills and Innovation began working on increasing our support systems and guides for professors and pedagogical teams. We relied on past experiences and our team’s expertise to offer diversified support either through individualized follow-ups for professors who requested it or through group training. We have also offered educational guides for the deployment of hybrid pedagogy, listing a number of tips and tutorials for autonomous learning adapted to each course, and sharing instructive and inspiring initiatives led by Sciences Po professors. The preparation for the fall semester, the foundations of which are a renewed educational and digital experience, takes into account the experience of the previous semester, its positive aspects as well as the in-depth studies it requires and the questions it raises. We have worked hand-in-hand with the teams of the various training programmes and also with our research departments to always be as close as possible to students’ needs, to propose adapted solutions and to integrate these various initiatives into a common institutional objective. For example, we have redesigned in depth the course layout so that it includes several different sequences, with times for the transmission of knowledge, other times dedicated to group work, Q&A sessions, etc. This helps keep students’ attention and allows them to interact with their peers and diversify their skills.
What is the major challenge of this fall semester?
DG: One of the main challenges was to anticipate the design and support of an academic offer that would compensate for the inability of some students and professors to be physically present on the campuses, while meeting the aspirations of those who would be. We started preparing for this in the spring, in order to multiply teaching formats, to develop skills related to face-to-face and remote relationships, to exchange views and to find a friendly atmosphere in a modified educational setting. We collaborated on this closely with other departments, such as the IT Services Department and the library. This strategy is perfectly in line with the dynamic mission that Sciences Po has carried since its creation, which is based on the principle of permanent reinvention and offering a high quality education for all, whatever their situation, and using pedagogical methods that support collective intelligence, cooperation, and collaboration.
- A Student Sorts Through Donations © Sciences Po Med Liban
On the afternoon of 4 August 2020, two explosions occurred at the port of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. The catastrophe caused over 170 deaths, 6,000 injuries, between 10 and 15 billion dollars of property damage, and left 300,000 people homeless. Under the guidance of Campus Director Yasmina Touaibia, Lebanese students from Sciences Po’s Menton campus, both on the ground in Lebanon and in France, immediately began to think of how they could help.
Sciences Po’s Menton campus hosts the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean programme which studies the historical, political, economic and social ties between this region of the world and France. Hence, it was only fitting that Sciences Po’s Menton community felt compelled to mobilise and take action. With the support of Doctor Touaibia, Lebanese students quickly founded Sciences Po Med Liban, an initiative with three missions: collecting clothes, medication, and other material donations from the French Riviera to send to the affected area in Lebanon, committing to rebuild a street that was greatly damaged by the explosions, and participating in the financial and material reconstruction of a public hospital that was destroyed.
We spoke to Joseph Moussa who was also one of the co-creators of Menton Livraison, an initiative to help senior citizens along the French riviera at the start of the coronavirus health crisis, and Emmanuel Houalla, both of whom are part of the Sciences Po Med Liban initiative and are currently in Menton organising the first mission, dubbed “la collecte”.
How soon after the explosion did you create Sciences Po Med Liban? How did you first go about it?
Joseph: The day after the explosion, Dr. Touaibia emailed all of us, the Lebanese students of the campus in Menton, to make sure that we and our families were all safe and well. She also asked what she could personally do to help us and eventually called me to schedule an appointment with everyone so that we could discuss what we, as a community, could do to help Lebanon during these difficult times for the country. Before long, all of us were discussing various ideas and actions that we could undertake, knowing that we had members of the Sciences Po community both in Lebanon as well as in France, which could guarantee unparalleled efficiency and transparency. We convened that we could assume the role of Sciences Po’s campus in Menton as a bridge between France and the Arab world and therefore mobilise regional actors, whether civil or governmental, in order to amplify the aid efforts of our students on the ground. Before long, amazing and creative ideas were coming from everywhere, from Marine suggesting the name itself, to Kim proposing the only “collecte” in the French Riviera as well aiding the hospital her father was involved in, to Dalia utilising her connections on the ground with charities and professional organisations to propose the support of a given street. And the rest, as they say, is history.
How is the project coming along? What are its main missions? How many people are behind it?
Emmanuel: When we started our "collecte" on the 18th of August, we immediately received donations from residents from all over the French Riviera including from towns such as Menton, Nice, Monaco and Cannes. Even more, these donations came from both companies as well as individuals hailing from all over the world, which was quite incredible since we saw how so many different nationalities, cultures, and languages converged together in order to do some good in the world and help Lebanese people that were very negatively impacted by the August 4 port explosions. As a matter of fact, a large part of our student space is now full and we plan to open a new collection center in Nice in the coming days with the help of the Nice municipality as well as the “Mon Liban d’Azur” association, in order to be able to accept even more donations. That being said, Sciences Po Med Liban is pursuing 3 main action plans: collecting clothes, medication, and other material donations which is the "collecte" that has already started, supporting an impacted street including its infrastructure and its residents, and lastly helping a non-profit with material and financial donations in order to contribute to rebuilding the "Quarantine" public hospital. As of now, Sciences Po Med Liban involves about twenty students both in Lebanon and France, as well as other members of the Sciences Po community, notably our campus director and a Lebanese professor. That being said, we are sure that as we head back to school and as we make strides in our efforts, both the initiative's membership and reach will grow with time.
What have you been able to collect so far? How do you sort through the donations? Where and to whom are you sending the items collected?
Emmanuel: So far, we have been able to collect all types of donations, ranging from clothes, blankets and towels to medical supplies, shoes and scooters. It is truly amazing how generous people can be and especially heart-warming for us. In order to sort through the donations, we first receive them on campus and leave them out for a couple of hours as part of the coronavirus-related sanitary measures we are taking. After that, we bring them indoors to the air-conditioned student space, where we then sort them out by categories: we have a clothes pile, a medical supplies pile, a blanket/towel/sheets piles, and lastly an "other" pile that comprises donations such as sunglasses and backpacks. We then catalogue them, day by day, in order to get an accurate picture of the amount of donations we have received so far. According to our plan, the donations will be sent to Beirut by private companies with whom we have already established contact. Once in Lebanon, students that are part of Sciences Po Med Liban will collect these donations and distribute them to the people in need who have been gravely impacted by the explosion. Throughout all of this, transparency is of utmost importance, which is why donations will be given directly to the people rather than any other institution and will be overseen at all times by our students until they make it to the hands of the beneficiaries. We will also accordingly update our website to inform the donors of the status of the donations.
How did you identify the street and the hospital you are committed to help rebuild? What does this rebuilding entail?
Joseph: When discussing the initiative with the Lebanese students in Lebanon who had personally lived through the explosion and witnessed its devastating consequences, we agreed that the “collecte”, which would provide immediate and humanitarian aid to the affected people, would not be enough. We feel it is necessary to undertake additional action plans that are even more ambitious and more long-term. Soon enough, the students on the ground utilised their connections to identify areas where we could help, and before long, a network was set up. The street which we aim to help is being visited by our students, led by Dalia, along with professionals in the field of construction as well as some charities. Dalia was also able to initiate contact with the town hall of Beirut so that we could eventually help Nor Hadjen, an underprivileged area with a high rate of extreme poverty that is located right in front of the port where the explosion occurred. This area is also significant to Beirut’s very identity since it contains many now-damaged patrimonial buildings, hence why we are currently working on partnering with the “The Association of World of Art & Heritage”. Based on professional evaluations carried out on the humanitarian needs and infrastructural needs, we will prepare a project to present to potential financiers on the local as well as regional scale to mobilise and redirect much-needed resources. Similarly, thanks to Kim’s connection and involvement in ASSAMEH - Birth & Beyond, a local non-profit organization that supports the pediatric section of a public hospital called “Quarantine”, we also aim to contribute to the reconstruction efforts which would involve meeting the specific needs outlined by the professional evaluation, while also having our students on the ground coordinating, overseeing and helping with the aid efforts being carried out.
What message do you want to share with readers? How can people help?
Joseph: I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, everyone who shared the pain and sorrow of the Lebanese people as we collectively mourned the lives lost on August 4th and looked in horror at the massive destruction that the port explosions caused to the city of Beirut. So many of us have, at some point or another in our lives, played in its narrow streets, sunbathed on its Mediterranean beaches, visited its world-famous cafes and restaurants, and explored its hidden gems, the ones that only the local residents would know about. This, and much more, is why we feel so passionate about Sciences Po Med Liban and would like to have as many people as possible involved and contributing to the initiative and to achieving its goals. If anyone would like to help, I would encourage them to visit our website at www.sciencespomedliban.fr or call our hotline on +33 (0)4 89 41 83 29 to learn more about the initiative and its different action plans. During these difficult times for Lebanon, every donation given to the country and every helping hand lent to its people is both more than welcome and immensely appreciated!
© Sciences Po Med Liban
Interview by the Sciences Po Editorial Team
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- ©Sciences Po
The Sciences Po College is preparing to welcome its largest incoming class who will begin their undergraduate studies in Dijon, Le Havre, Menton, Nancy, Paris, Poitiers and Reims this Fall. Nearly half of our new students are international, coming from 87 countries. Amongst this historic class, just over 40 students will commence one of the two new Bachelor of Arts and Sciences Degrees, which will guide students to explore perspectives at the intersection of scientific study, the humanities and social sciences. Amongst the seven-campus network, the Reims campus will host the largest incoming student body with nearly 600 students.
Students were given the opportunity to prepare for this new life chapter thanks to two virtual events: “Admitted Students Day”, organized on 30 May for international degree-seeking students, and the “Welcome Class of 2023/2024” for the entire incoming class that was hosted on 4 July.
During this newly created event, students and their families discovered the unique approach to studies at the Sciences Po College during a round table, entitled “Teaching and Learning Philosophies”. The roundtable was moderated by the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Prof. Stéphanie Balme, with the participation of colleagues and Professors Jeanne Hagenbach (economics), Guillaume Piketty (history), Marta Dominguez-Folgueras (sociology), Régis Bismuth (law), and Sophie Rochefort Guillouet (classics). In the final phase of the day, newly admitted students were able to ask their campus directors questions, while interacting with their fellow students. After all these meetings and preparations, the Sciences Po College had one word of advice -- enjoy the summer and a well-deserved vacation!
- Nancy campus © Martin Argyroglo / Sciences Po
In October 2000, 42 first-year and second-year students arrived on Sciences Po’s first international campus outside of Paris, in Nancy. Inaugurated by Richard Descoings, then President of Sciences Po, the Nancy campus hosts the Undergraduate College’s European programme with a focus on Franco-German relations. In twenty years, over 2,000 students have studied at the Nancy campus.
Close to Germany and Luxembourg, and an hour and a half by high-speed train from Paris, Nancy is a student town (approximately 50,000 students live and study in the city) with a strong European identity and international dimension. Visitors to Nancy discover a rich historical legacy, featuring the renowned architectural ensemble around the Place Stanislas—a Unesco World Heritage site—and the École de Nancy, the spearhead of Art Nouveau in France. The campus itself is located in a prestigious eighteenth-century building, the Hôtel des Missions Royales.
A European Specialisation with a focus on Franco-German relations
The Nancy campus hosts 300 students on its campus, for the first two years of their undergraduate degree. Students follow Sciences Po’s multidisciplinary programme in the social sciences with a geographical focus on the political, economic and social aspects of the European Union from a comparative perspective between France and Germany—the engines of European integration and community building.
The programme is taught mainly in French with some courses in English and German. It covers major European issues such as the creation of a European political area and an integrated economic market while deepening students’ knowledge of the French and German-speaking area, particularly through the seminar run through the Alfred Grosser Chair. Students can study the languages of the region such as German, English and Italian, but also Spanish, Russian, or Swedish. Students on this campus can also choose to pursue a dual degree with University College London (UCL) or Freie Universität Berlin.
Since 2005, students of the Nancy campus take an annual study trip to a European city to visit and meet professionals of European and governmental institutions. In 2019, second-year students went to Brussels to visit the European Parliament, the European Commission, amongst others, and first-year students had the choice between Berlin or Vienna.
Campus life in Nancy also includes annual simulations of the Franco-German Council of Ministers where students take the roles of the German Chancellor and the French President. Sciences Po’s campus in Nancy is also an integral part of CIVICA, the European University of the Social Sciences.
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- Student in the library © Paul Rentler / Sciences Po
In response to the uncertainty facing universities worldwide with regards to the start of the next academic year, Sciences Po is mobilising to guarantee all its students as complete and demanding an education as ever. Sciences Po remains faithful to the university’s vocation of training free, critical and socially engaged minds, intellectually informed through research and interaction with professionals at the heart of our teaching. It is this wholesome and well-balanced education that will give you the means to act in a world more uncertain now than ever.
A new and innovative system will allow us to open the entirety of the university’s courses to all 14,000 students enrolled in them, as of the 14 September 2020.
In compliance with all new health regulations, Sciences Po will continue to promote the excellence of its courses and will base its new start to the academic year on three central principles:
- Equality of access for all students to their courses, regardless of their location.
- Hybridity of course content, which will combine remote learning and on-campus teaching.
- Adaptability, so that all courses can be adapted according to the evolution of the health situation.
A new and adapted start to the academic year, following the “dual campus” model
Throughout the entire Autumn Semester 2020, all Sciences Po students will have access to a dual campus:
- A digital campus, providing all course content in a variety of formats, adapted to each class. Any student will be able to complete their entire course remotely.
- A physical campus, in the seven cities where Sciences Po is lucky enough to be based, will be open and will focus on student activities in small groups: course sessions, tutorials, group projects, small group work, supervised community activities, etc. This physical campus will, of course, remain connected to the rest of the community in order to guarantee the participation of students unable to reach our premises.
This dual campus will combine the advantages of digital and face-to-face teaching by linking them closely. It will remain flexible, so as to offer the most complete and rewarding academic experience possible, including for those who are geographically distant and regardless of how long that distance lasts. It will give special attention to the events of all kinds that punctuate life at our institution and ensure the continuity of Sciences Po’s rich student life for all. Emphasis will be placed on personalised support, in both teaching and technical matters, so as to offer all students optimal access to the digital campus.
This system will build on experience gathered since the end of February, with measures adopted across the board as of the 23 March, during which time all Sciences Po courses have been conducted remotely.
The academic staff of the Undergraduate College and each of the Graduate Schools will provide further information by mid-June regarding the pre-back to school terms as well as the curricula and course modules to be offered for the next academic year.
- A balcony in Bergamo, March 28, 2020 ©Luca Ponti / Shutterstock
Read below a copy of Giovanni Moro's personal testimony, written on April 19, 2020.
The fourth address of the President of the French Republic to the nation facilitated a personal reflection on the homage that Mr Macron paid to my city amid the current evolving crisis. "Yes, we will never win alone", the President declared, "because, today, in Bergamo, Madrid, Brussels, London, Beijing, New York, Algiers or Dakar, we mourn the deaths of the same virus." In the present circumstances, I have returned to Bergamo in Northern Italy, a city inhabited by roughly a hundred thousand people, erected by the foothills of the "Alpi Orobie". This is where I was born and where I attended high school before enrolling at Sciences Po Paris in France. In comparison to the metropolises remarked by the French President, Bergamo is a charming little town in Lombardy. Contemporarily, this province is martyred by the coronavirus pandemic, as it registers an increase of 337% of deaths in contrast to the previous year, subsequent to the outbreak of the current emergency, according to the Italian National Institute of Statistics. The mayor of Bergamo, Giorgio Gori, claims that 500,000 people may have been infected in the province, representing half of its population.
Like all those who live far from home because of their studies or their work, but suddenly find themselves living with their loved ones in this time of crisis, I think I can share the same apprehension faced with a new situation that brings about major changes within our way of living. But what could have changed in the life of a family in such a short period of time? Everything - the virus has taught us so far. Here in Bergamo, it is taking away our sweetness, our warmth, our affections. It disrupts the daily rhythm and creates abysses. Our family, like our hometown, is all that we have: it remains our refuge, the place of communion where we must return, a fortiori, when it is needed to share the pain. Bergamo has become the European epicenter of a tragedy that plunges us into the mourning of loved ones. It saddens me to see images of rows of military convoys carrying bodies out of the city for cremation, because there are no more places available at the cemetery. It breaks my heart to know that the people we love die in the hospitals alone, without their loved ones by their side, or worse, at home, without having access to medical care.
However, the Italians bite the bullet and, by virtue of their stoic, austere soul, prepare to roll up their sleeves, taking their courage in both hands to rebuild, together, all that has been destroyed. Everybody contributes here as much as they can: there are those who save lives by working in the hospitals; and those who save lives by staying at home. "I will be reborn, you will be reborn" are the words of a song that a local musician dedicated to Bergamo, and which resonates throughout Italy, whereby a new breath of life is instilled in us. We see many banners on the balconies with words of encouragement such as "Berghem mola mia", in Lombard, "be brave, do not give up, Bergamo". When this city - although today in the midst of suffering encroached upon its people by the pandemic - succeeds in the fight against the virus, it will be because of its citizens' appeal to the values that characterise them. Therefore, I would like Bergamo to be regarded as a European emblem not only for its suffering, but also for its spirit of sacrifice, resistance, and the union of wills. The people of this land of green valleys crossing the Alps are traditionally reserved, modest, and discreet. Today the city mourns in silence and secretly the death of loved ones, but Bergamo has never lost a battle. This city has never ceased to act heroically. Ever since the Unification of Italy, it was distinguished with honour by the sheer number of its inhabitants who joined Garibaldi during the Expedition of the Thousand in 1860. The walls of the fortifications of the Upper Town, the site of the “Risorgimento”, is the living testimony of the atavistic bravery of Bergamo. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, they protect “Piazza Vecchia”, which was once described by architect Le Corbusier as the most beautiful square in Europe. Bergamo is a mixture of history and modernity, as a major production center of Italy, and as the heart of its football: Atalanta makes us proud to see our soccer team for the first time in the Champions League this year. Right now, in our families, in our cities, we only need this team spirit, this audacity, this collective effort to defeat the virus together. I would like us all in Europe to fight with the same spirit of Bergamasque camaraderie, through civism that attains the highest value of the sense of community. In Italy we tell ourselves "andrà tutto bene", that "everything will be fine": we are firmly convinced of this. We are right to believe in it because it gives us hope and courage to resist. Everything that afflicts Italy cannot erase our desire to live, which has always characterized this robust land from Bergamo to Palermo. It cannot prevent us from planning ahead: from imagining the joyful moment when we will inherit the Olympic flame from Paris 2024, to celebrate, here, in Italy, the 2026 Winter Olympic Games. When the pandemic will end, the beauty of sport will know how to unite us again, and, together, we will be faster, higher, stronger. President Macron's words are welcomed here as a manifestation of human empathy, which, in the face of destruction, gives us the courage to join forces with our fellow Europeans. These words renew the spirit of brotherhood that unites us, citizens of Europe, in our war against a common invisible enemy. They remind me of a feeling of sympathy, which I experienced firsthand during my years at Sciences Po Paris, and in the French family that welcomed me during my studies: a sense of grace, harmony, which we so desperately need at the moment. I find it comforting to think that beyond these Alps, there lives a People who displays all the compassion for the tragedy that my city and my country are experiencing, although our western neighbours suffer as much as we do.
This compassion is the essence of our European friendship, which is founded upon two pillars: to rejoice together, but also to suffer together. President Macron's determined call for a stronger exhibition of solidarity in Europe is precious in a time of despair. A crisis, as its etymology betrays, does not only indicate the worsening of a situation, an insoluble aporia. Indeed, it has also a positive connotation: a moment of crisis must be, above all, a period of reflection and evaluation. This phase of discernment is the necessary precondition for a rebirth of a flourishing Europe bearing those human values bringing us together in these gruesome days.
Today, in our families, in our cities, we must nurture hope, consisting, as the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella declared at the dawn of the new year, "in the possibility of always having something to achieve". Today, in our families, in our cities, we must nurture hope, constituting - as the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella declared at the dawn of the new year - "in the possibility of always having something to achieve". In the name of the pain exerted upon us by our common suffering, the hope envisioned by President Mattarella is that Europe will be reborn in solidarity, and that the continent will be inspired by the citizens of Italy, France and elsewhere, who are struggling to preserve harmony with the only weapon of abnegation.
President Macron evokes our European identity as a splendid opportunity for resilience, re-foundation and renovation of our project of peaceful coexistence. With this spirit, our collective engagement to defeat the pandemic will breathe new life into the process of European integration, following in the footsteps of our founding fathers, whose legacy is now more alive than ever. Bergamo is the city that opens its arms to preserve the interest of the community, because "yes", as President Macron's words echo here, "we will never win alone." Therefore, likewise at the end of the Second World War, during the pandemic, we must respond to the irresistible call for a united Europe: we must continue to imagine life together, we must not forget the tender memory of the caress of tomorrow, while being the signs of hope ourselves for the common reconstruction of the future.
Giovanni Moro, third-year student - April 2020.
- Illustration of Online Education ©Alexander Trou / Shutterstock
14,000 students from all over the world and on all continents, 700 classes per day: going online due to the current pandemic has posed an unprecedented and considerable challenge for Sciences Po. It has also been an opportunity to invent new ways to teach and learn. Bénédicte Durand, Vice President of Academic Affairs, recounts the efforts made by the Sciences Po teams to successfully carry out this transition.
All Sciences Po classes moved fully online as of Monday, March 23. How did Sciences Po manage to get 14,000 students and 700 classes online in one week?
Let’s just say, we didn’t get much sleep! Once we decided that the rest of the semester would be all online, we defined three guiding principles: first, preserve the quality of education, and therefore the quality of the degree. Second, lighten the course load to allow students to reorganise their time and school/life balance, taking into consideration the time they would need to readjust and get settled. Finally, reinforce individual follow-up and communication with all our students. Then, we chose a platform that was best suited to our needs: the Zoom video conferencing platform, which we had already been testing for a while. Through using Zoom ourselves, we were able to see what could be done using the platform, and what should be accomplished off it.
At Sciences Po, there are many different programmes, from undergraduate level to doctorate level, and the types of classes are varied, from lectures to workshops or "conférences de méthode": how did you manage to get all these different types of courses online?
We had to boil the educational model down to the essentials, namely the fundamentals of our teaching, but we kept 80% of classes! Considering the fact that our students are scattered across all the time zones on the planet, we quickly realised the importance of recording lessons and providing a variety of teaching materials. The pedagogy we are offering today is partly via Zoom but also utilising other types of tools - Moodle, email, document dropboxes - in order to provide students with as many options as possible in case they have limited internet access or other connectivity issues. Hence the need to devote a week to build this new framework...
What existing tools did you use?
We wanted to get the whole community on board, from total beginners to tech-savvy users who are familiar with these tools. Of course, some of our professors are already very innovative in using digital technology in their syllabi. But we wanted to build a framework that was accessible for everyone, including those who didn’t know their way around these resources. This is an opportunity to bring a shared digital culture to everyone. This transition should also bring these tools into our everyday lives in the long term: our world is in great need of reinventing itself to be more sustainable, by decreasing mobility yet preserving contact.
Sciences Po has six campuses outside of Paris: how is the system deployed there and with what specificities? Could there be shared courses amongst all of the Sciences Po campuses?
We haven't yet thought about sharing courses across campuses - for the time being we especially want to maintain the sense of community within the student bodies. The students of each campus know and trust each other; their ties to each other are built on solidarity. We didn’t want to "disturb" this in any way. On the other hand, the pedagogical teams of the different campuses and Graduate Schools were immediately brought on board to co-construct this new educational offer at all levels.
How do you support teachers and students so that they engage in these new approaches?
We created Zoom accounts for all of our teachers and pedagogical managers, and we sent them very complete tutorials. We also offer training sessions twice a day to accompany them. Of course it was necessary to adapt our traditional teaching format: two hours of lecturing on video is too long. But each teacher is free to adapt his or her class with all the necessary flexibility, by mixing lecturing, discussions, Q&A sessions, etc. Everyone is discovering these new tools at the same time: we’re taking advantage of this situation to build a place of educational freedom. I am convinced that this will be extremely beneficial for the future.
Will this crisis have lasting effects on Sciences Po’s way of teaching?
Yes, I don’t think that we will be able to just go back to the traditional format, as if nothing had happened. This crisis is also an opportunity for teachers and students to reaffirm their will to continue to learn and transmit knowledge, whatever the cost. Despite the difficulties that come with transitioning, there is an incredible energy. Students and teachers will form new pathways to achieve their goals, I am sure!
- Panorama sur les toits de la ville © Joanna Peel / Sciences Po
At the beginning of March 2020, while much of France was still living relatively undisturbed, Tommaso Campomagnani, Nolwenn Menard, Joseph Moussa and Mathilde de Solages, first-year students on the Menton campus, anticipated the possibility of a lockdown. In this small town on the French riviera where a third of the population is over sixty, they created Menton Livraison, a service allowing volunteers to deliver essential products to at-risk individuals. Mathilde and Nolwenn tell us about the adventure, complete with administrative obstacles and happy encounters along the way.
How did you get the idea for creating Menton Livraison?
Mathilde: At the beginning of March, Joseph came to see us on campus and asked us for five minutes to present his idea. The same evening, all four of us gathered at his home to devise the operation of Menton Livraison, a service dedicated to helping at-risk individuals.
Nolwenn: In truth, at that point the idea of a lockdown seemed very far away. Some people thought that we would struggle to find partners. But, at the same time, a very strange atmosphere was growing in Menton given its proximity with Italy… When we came back from holidays in February, over half of the students at Sciences Po were in quarantine because they had travelled from cities like Milan. Tommaso, who is Italian, was getting worrying news from his loved ones on the other side of the border. We were seeing the inhabitants of Menton getting more and more worried, and couldn’t help but notice the suspicious glances shot around whenever somebody coughed in public...
Mathilde: We’re all aware that Menton has a particular demographic. Although the cliché of an “elderly town” is far from true, over a third of people living in Menton are over 60! We watched what was happening in China and in Italy, the curve of progression of the virus, and thought: this is the calm before the storm.
How does Menton Livraison work? When will the service be operative?
Mathilde: Menton Livraison is a phone number which at-risk individuals can call to order essential items listed on our website, which our volunteers then deliver to them at home.
Nolwenn: Initially, we were thinking of an app. Then, we realised that a hotline would be much more suitable for a target group of seniors. We agreed on a voice-operated server that can record the orders and render them, either as voice recordings or as a written transcription. That way, the line is never busy and we can handle orders at the rate at which they come in.
Mathilde: We hope to open the line between now and Thursday 26 March. We’ve already received around fifteen orders… When we began, we had no idea how long it would take to comply with administrative, legal, and health requirements! First we had to create an association, which is a simple process but takes some time. Then for every aspect of our activity there was a different process we had to follow. To deliver medication, for instance, we need to wait for the go-ahead from regional and then national organising bodies, which we have yet to receive.
Nolwenn: Fortunately, the Mayor has been a really active ally on the project. The municipal services and the Centre Communal d’Action Sociale (CCAS) have guided us in all of these procedures, they’ve put us in touch with the relevant authorities, and they’re providing us with invaluable items for everyone’s safety, volunteers and recipients, like masks, gloves, hand sanitiser...
Who are you counting on to help you?
Mathilde: We’ve got the participation of the Félix Faure Carrefour City, which has been a very cooperative partner. The franchise is run by several individuals who got on board with the project straight away. They were the ones who provided us with the list of essential items most frequently bought by customers. Of course, if our clients/recipients want other products, they can request them, but the availability of the products listed on our site is guaranteed by the shop.
For a small town like Menton and a small supermarket like the Félix Faure Carrefour City (CCAS) (which usually only has one delivery person), volunteer assistance is essential in order to tackle the huge amount of orders that the CCAS has already received.
What are your team’s strengths?
Nolwenn: All of us bring our knowledge, abilities, and personal experiences to the table. Especially since we come from different backgrounds: Tommaso, who is Italian, lived in Tenerife before coming to Sciences Po; Joseph is Lebanese and lived in Saudi Arabia; Mathilde is French and was living in Holland, and I’m Franco-American and lived in San Francisco. Each one of us has experienced various environments and health and security systems, which differ from one country to another.
Mathilde: We also pooled our collective knowledge and our personalities. Joseph has a great memory and thinks very quickly. Tommy is very creative. And Nolwenn and I like to meet people, and so weren’t afraid of the many necessary interactions with the French administration! Actually, all four of us have a tendency to focus very intensely on anything that we undertake. That level of involvement needs to be equal across a team.
How are you working today?
All of us are in our place of isolation, but we work together every day over the phone or via video-conference. Just because we’re not together doesn’t mean we can’t take action!
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- Xiaorui Zhou, 2020 Rhodes scholar ©Sciences Po
Sciences Po undergraduate student Xiaorui Zhou is one of the four Chinese students to become a 2020 Rhodes scholar. This prestigious scholarship allows outstanding students to spend two years at the University of Oxford pursuing a postgraduate degree. Xiaorui is currently completing her double degree with Sciences Po and the National University of Singapore (NUS), majoring in History and Middle Eastern studies. She aspires to pursue two Master’s degrees at Oxford next year: one in Women’s Studies, and one in Contemporary Chinese Studies. Interview.
Where does your interest in gender studies come from?
My interest in gender studies was first sparked by an introductory sociology tutorial, taught by Ms. Delphine Moraldo at Sciences Po’s campus in Menton. As first-year students, we were introduced to the making of “boys” and “girls” in modern society through exposure to different types of toys. While this notion of social construction of norms may sound vague or banal in our ‘woke’ society now, that particular reading really startled me. Then, in my third-year of the Undergraduate College, when I attended the National University of Singapore for the second half of my programme, I took a course on Historicising Gender, taught by Dr. Sharon Low. I began to develop interests in oral history as well as in Chinese women’s lived experiences: how have they been educated or socialised? How have they provided for their family? How do their experiences, as women, change as they age? Who and what do they dream of at night? Another class on the Problematic Concepts of Gender, offered in NUS’s University Scholars Programme by Associate Professor Lo Mun Hou, introduced me to the field of gender theories. So it is a combination of ingenious mentors, fascinating scholarship, and questions-awaiting-answers that led me to this exciting field.
What led you to choose the NUS-Sciences Po double-degree programme four years ago?
It was a combination of factors. First: I wanted an education in the humanities. Yet, I felt slightly undecided between history and political science. Second: I wanted to gain exposure to and in different parts of the world, not limiting myself to either Asian studies - the topic I felt more familiar with - or Middle Eastern studies, the topic I was interested in. With these considerations in mind, the NUS-Sciences Po dual BA programme seemed rather promising.
What was your experience at Sciences Po as an international student?
My experience at Sciences Po as an international student brought so many treasures to my life that still today I struggle to put them into coherent words. First of all, I loved the fact that I was able to witness countless moon rises and sunsets from the Menton campus which is situated in such a scenic part of France. Of course, sometimes it was difficult as my fellow dual-degree programme mate, Ms. Jessie Lim and I studied and lived on the Menton campus where not many students of Asian origins were around. Nonetheless, that particular experience taught me that instead of pulling off a pretense of integration, we need to forge and respect real, equal, and open dialogues.
Overall, with the truly international student body of Sciences Po, the most important thing I learnt was the necessity of ‘small’, personal stories amidst ‘grand’, national narratives: someone who personally underwent the Arab Spring could be teaching you a lecture on revolutions; someone whose family is at risk of appalling destruction or dislocation amidst the ruthless warfare can be your project mate; someone who lived, and still lives, the daily reality of racial discrimination may be walking you home. With all of these, I have realised that those ‘front-page news’ aren’t simply distant news, confined and contained on paper or screen. They constitute our fate. My deepest appreciation goes to everybody who shared their life stories with me back on the French Riviera, either in a light-hearted or a serious manner.
What is your approach to gender studies as a Chinese student who studied in France as well as in Singapore?
In my opinion, a striking commonality for most courses in gender studies, either in France, in Singapore or in China, is that the pioneers and professors in the field are both academics and activists. For many of us, we study social constructions to construct our reality differently, and we study the script of our gender play to play it differently. I would say that this aspiration for actual change in the real world is the defining common thread. I am not sure, however, if there are regional-based differences; with my limited knowledge, I believe that the nuanced approaches in the field are more a result of disciplinary frameworks and/or language backgrounds than a result of regional or cultural differences.
You co-founded an initiative for high school graduates from rural counties in Hunan in which you led seminars on history and gender. Can you tell us about it?
With the co-founder of Peer Experience Exchange Rostrum, Mr. Liu Hong and three other colleagues, we launched Project Initium (in pinyin, qizhi xueshe) in the summer of 2019. We worked with students from six different counties in the Hunan province. For my own seminar, entitled History of the Chinese Overseas, I exposed my students to different genres of primary sources, such as yearbooks of overseas Chinese girls’ schools during the Republican era (1912-1949). My intention was to acquaint students with the actual people who populated our history, yet somewhat absent in our historical narratives.
My fondest memory was of course our gender workshop; at first, we didn’t design any workshop related to gender given our packed schedule. However, as we observed some confusion over gender stereotypes expressed by our students, we saw the necessity of such a workshop where our students could hopefully walk away with two ideas: first, the social division of labour was not and should not be biologically determined; and second, structural factors hide within every aspect of our seemingly individual lives. Yet, we did not want to sound or appear overtly technical or dogmatic. Thereby, we (the mentors) designed a short, comic, immersive theatre session from scratch, where the female protagonist was trapped in between her romantic relationship, her family, and career choices. Many students, even the most silent ones, engaged with us by volunteering to play the role of the protagonist and break her structurally-constrained fate (to no avail). So that was fun for me, and thought-provoking for many of our students. I hope to run more sophisticated versions of this theatre with our future batches of Project Initium students.
What are your hopes and projects for the future?
It may be slightly premature to speak of the future, as I’m not really sure which profession I will pursue, or which projects I would work on. I do know that I would like to spend my future dealing with the past, by writing, either in an academic or non-academic context, about lived experiences, transcultural interactions, and more.
- Open House Day 2019 at the Reims campus @Paul Rentler/Sciences Po
At the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, Sciences Po will be offering a new interdisciplinary dual bachelor’s degree, the “BASc”, or the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences, combining the study of hard science with the social sciences and humanities. In partnership with multiple French universities, this dual degree is the first of its kind in France. Taught over four years, the aim of these programmes is to build the tools to analyse and act upon global challenges of the 21st century. Two of the programmes within the BASc focus particularly on the ecological transition.
An All-New Degree
Adding to a long list of pre-existing dual degree programmes, this Bachelor of Arts and Sciences offers an unprecedented level of interdisciplinarity: students will simultaneously follow the curriculum of the Bachelor’s degree at Sciences Po, the curriculum in the sciences at the partner university, as well as original courses which link the two domains, conceived and delivered jointly by the two institutions.
This new dual degree will be launched at the beginning of September 2020 on two campuses with two different themes:
- “Policies of the Earth”: Offered on the Paris campus, this dual degree with the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), links geosciences and social sciences;
- “Environment, Society and Sustainability”: Offered on the Reims campus, this dual degree with the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, links life sciences and social sciences.
Two other dual degrees based on the same model in partnership with the University of Paris will commence in 2021:
- “Algorithms and Decisions”: A dual degree in mathematics & computer science and the social sciences to explore the challenges of big data on our lifestyles;
- “Policies of Life and Identities”: A dual degree in life sciences and the social sciences focussing on ethics pertaining to the manipulation of living beings.
For Frédéric Mion, President of Sciences Po, “the idea is not only to juxtapose these disciplines but to effectively educate future leaders with hybrid profiles, capable of bringing a new perspective on the crucial challenges of our era, in which the social sciences and humanities and the hard or natural sciences provide insights that are impossible to dissociate from each other."
A Challenging Curriculum Over 4 Years
These new dual bachelor degrees will be taught over a four-year period: two years in France spent between the two partner institutions, a third year abroad, and a final year dedicated to interdisciplinary courses and deepening scientific learning.
This Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree is destined towards high school graduates with equally excellent records in the hard scientific disciplines as well as the soft ones. 50 students will be admitted to the first cohort at the start of the 2020-21 academic year, after which 100 students per year will be admitted (from September 2021). Candidates will follow the classic admissions procedure to the Undergraduate College, with an interview before a jury composed of representatives from each university.
At the end of these four years of studies, students will obtain the Bachelor of Arts and Sciences delivered by Sciences Po as well as a bachelor’s degree from the partner university. Graduates will then be able to choose to pursue their master’s degree at Sciences Po or amongst the master’s degrees in the hard sciences at the partner university.
- Student writing ©Martin Argyroglo/Sciences Po
The Sciences Po Undergraduate College is currently accepting applications from international students for the 2020 intake. To help you with your application, our admissions team has selected some of the most frequently asked questions from prospective international undergraduates.
What are the essential points to include in the personal statement for an undergraduate degree?
For the personal statement, our admissions team is ultimately interested in the reason why you want to study at Sciences Po and what you think you could contribute to the university. The personal statement is an opportunity to present your skills and motivation, and the most important thing is to give us a feel for your personality. Sciences Po is looking for students who are motivated, intellectually curious, and committed to making an impact in the world.
Do I have to get the qualifications in my application translated?
Copies of your transcripts and qualifications must be included in the original language version and be accompanied, where necessary, by an official or informal translation in French or in English (in English only for the programmes with Keio University and the University of Hong Kong).
What is the best way for international students to prepare for the admissions interview?
The interview is the second step in the admissions procedure and is only offered to shortlisted students. For the interview, applicants are asked to read and analyse a text within a short period of time, then deliver a structured oral presentation of their commentary. The interviewers then ask the candidate a series of questions pertaining to their presentation and to their application as a whole.
What foreign languages (except for French and English) are available on each campus and how much time is spent in language classes?
The time spent in English or French classes differs according to the student’s level in the respective language. Classes are more intensive for those who are less advanced and meet several times a week. For the student’s second foreign language choice, sessions generally take place once a week. Beginners in languages which require the learning of a new alphabet may need to meet more often.
The availability of foreign languages, aside from English and French, depends on each campus’s regional specialisation.
- More information about language courses at Sciences Po
- More information about language admission requirements
How many hours can I expect to spend each week on university courses and study?
The amount of time spent in class each week depends on multiple factors, including your language levels in English and French and the number of optional courses. The same can be said for the number of hours spent on studying and coursework. Overall, students can expect to spend somewhere between 20-25 hours in class.
What are the tuition fees for undergraduate international students?
For students whose tax residence is within the European Economic Area, tuition fees are calculated according to a sliding scale based on household income, and will fall between €0 and €10,540*. Those residing outside of the European Economic Area pay fees of €10,540.
*(Maximum tuition fee for the 2019-2020 academic year).
More information on the tuition fee calculator
May I apply for both a dual Bachelor’s programme and an undergraduate programme at Sciences Po simultaneously?
Yes, depending on the dual degree you will need to submit two separate applications or a single application for both programmes.
If you are applying to one of the dual degree programmes with Freie Universität Berlin or the University of Hong Kong, you need to submit one application through Sciences Po’s system. You must select the dual degree as a first choice of programme and one of our undergraduate programmes as a second choice.
For the dual Bachelor’s programmes with UC Berkeley, Columbia University, the National University of Singapore, University of Sydney, University of British Columbia, or University College London, you must submit two separate applications: one on the website of the partner university for the dual degree (joint admission process) and the other on the Sciences Po website, where you will also be able to select one of our undergraduate programmes.
- Nancy campus entrance ©Martin Argyroglo
International admissions for the 2020 intake are now open!
Should you need further information on the admission criteria and procedure, please do not hesitate to visit our admissions website.