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Institute for the Arts and Creation

The Institute for the Arts and Creation is the latest initiative to emerge from Sciences Po’s historic commitment to embedding the arts within a curriculum focusing on the humanities and social sciences, and of fostering dialogue between all three disciplines. The institute was opened in March 2023.

Three main objectives:  

  • Diversification and experimentation within education. The Institute’s mission is centered on innovating in artistic methods, developing creative skills and bridging disciplines. It will support faculty members in introducing new teaching and evaluation methods. It will promote existing initiatives from different degree programmes, while broadening the range of artistic content available to students and the wider university community. 
  • Development of a link with research bridging the arts, humanities and social science disciplines, in all their forms. 
  • Civic engagement, by raising awareness of the arts – particularly the visual arts – among high school students and sharing teaching resources and methods with external teaching communities, as well as through urban outreach.  

The sum of many parts 

  • Artists-in-Residence Chairs, with events, workshops, masterclasses across all of Science Po’s campuses, and even intensive training courses with guest artists working in various fields 
  • An experimental teaching program: SPEAP 
  • A Writing and Rhetoric Centre, offering 25 workshops a year.  

The Institute works in partnership with researchers from Sciences Po, particularly with the Political Humanities Society (Cercle des humanités politiques). 

Initiatives within and outside Sciences Po

  • Help and support for high schools participating in the Equal Opportunities Programme (CEP), particularly with their preparation for the image analysis exercise of the admissions procedure, but also through events at which they can meet artists. 
  • Developing civic engagement linked to art; for example through reading and writing workshops in hospitals for care staff, patients and their families.  
  • Strengthening university partnerships, as is already the case with Harvard around the relationship between arts and humanities and social sciences. 
  • Inviting participation from school students belonging to artistic associations and alumni groups, who will work with different initiatives. 
  • Building a network of students recognised as “high level artists” across universities in France, and strengthening links with other student artists at Sciences Po.

A series of publicly available recordings and podcasts will help to ensure the Institute’s actions and resources are shared and distributed widely.

A multi-committee governance structure

The Institute for the Arts and Creation relies on a structure of relevant committees to coordinate its activities and inform its new projects. 

  • steering committee, bringing together the various Sciences Po communities who are most relevant to the Institute’s artistic and cultural concerns. 
  • strategic committee, with representatives from the world of the arts, humanities and social sciences, to foster strategic reflection and map out the Institute’s activities and development opportunities. 
  • Selection committees for invited artists, based on the selection committee for the Writer-in-Residence Chair.

Writer-In-Residence Chair and Writing And Rhetoric Centre 

Literary practice is a poetic form of knowledge of the world that is just as important as any scientific expertise.”
Patrick Chamoiseau, Writer-in-Residence, spring 2020 

The creation of the Writer-in-Residence Chair and the Writing and Rhetoric Centre in 2019 confirmed the fundamental place of writing in teaching methods at Sciences Po.  

Since 2019, Sciences Po has welcomed the following writers-in-residence: Mohamed Mbougarr Sarr (spring 2023), Nathacha Appanah (autumn 2022), Mathias Énard (spring 2022), Alice Zeniter (autumn 2021), Louis-Philippe Dalembert (spring 2021), Maylis de Kerangal (autumn 2020), Patrick Chamoiseau (spring 2020), Marie Darrieussecq (autumn 2019) et Kamel Daoud (spring 2019). 

The Writing and Rhetoric Centre runs 25 classes for students at all stages of their degrees at Sciences Po. Its workshops bring together students from various year groups.

The workshops offered by the Centre are designed to aid students’ with their academic work, prepare them for the professional world, and provide training in independent, creative writing. These optional cross-cutting workshops are open to students who want to improve a particular aspect of their oral or written expression. One workshop of 12 to 24 hours is worth two optional ECTS credits.

See the list of workshops taught in the autumn semester (FR) and the spring semester (FR). 

Three key areas are developed: 

  • Argumentation
  • Public speaking
  • Creative writing

In addition, the Writing and Rhetoric Centre offers a dense programme of activities, classes and events. These include a Creative Writing Residency at the Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC), in partnership with the Fondation Simone et Cino Del Duca, as well as the publication of student writing through “short story dispensers” installed in the 27 rue Saint-Guillaume and the 1 place Saint-Thomas sites. 

Cinema Chair

Each year a representative of the world of cinematography is chosen as the Cinema Chair. Each representative leads four masterclasses during which they present their work, invite other leading figures of their choice, and encourage reflection on creativity and its representation. 

Claire Denis, the director of ChocolatBoth Sides of the Blade, and Stars at Noon, will be Sciences Po’s first Cinema Chair.  

For the official launch of the Chair on Sciences Po’s Paris Campus, the university organised a screening of Denis’s film White Material, followed by a masterclass led by the director. The masterclass was moderated by Jean-Michel Frodon, a film critic and lecturer on the SPEAP Master’s programme. Jointly organised with the School of Public Affairs, the launch was an opportunity to discuss Denis’s creative experience and the many, particularly political and historical, themes that her work touches on.

This masterclass was the first in a series of four discussions with Claire Denis held throughout the year. 

Music And Dance Chair

The Institute for the Arts and Creation aims to cultivate a space for reflection through music and dance.  

To achieve that aim, a Chair dedicated to those arts has been created, and will be alternately filled by a musician and a dancer and/or choreographer.   

He or she will lead four masterclasses during which they will present their work, invite other leading figures of their choice, and encourage reflection on creativity and its representation. 

The first Sciences Po Music and Dance Chair is Benjamin Millepied, a dancer, choreographer and director of his own dance company. Millepied’s talents have already been on display at the School of America Ballet, the New York City Ballet, and the Paris Opera.  

As with the Institute’s other Chairs, these masterclasses will be offered throughout the year.

In addition, the inaugural Opera for Peace conference will be held at Sciences Po on Thursday 13 April 2023 in the Jacques Chapsal Lecture Hall (27 rue Saint-Guillaume), hosted by Frédéric Ramel, a professor at Sciences Po.

Visual Arts Chair And “Through The Artists’ Eye” Conference Series

Programme of four major conferences per year

Each year a common theme connects these four key events, hosted by Jean de Loisy. De Loisy is known for his major exhibitions and his radio show ‘L’art est la matière’ (France Culture), as well as for having led important institutions including the Palais de Tokyo and the Beaux-Arts de Paris.

In 2023, the programme theme is “The Relationship Crisis”. Philosopher Frédéric Gros, Professor of Political Humanities, will expand on the discourse between art and philosophy.  

The first artists to be invited are: 

The “Through the Artists’ Eye” series is supported by the Fondation Jean-François et Marie-Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre.  

An Experimental Teaching Programme: SPEAP

Created in 2010 by Bruno Latour, the Master in Arts and Politics (SPEAP) is a programme currently offered at the School of Public Affairs that will be hosted at the Institute for Arts and Creation from September 2023. SPEAP is the first programme to blend arts and social sciences in equal measure. Its aim is to introduce social science specialists, as well as practitioners from the public and private sectors, to the features and methods of artistic disciplines, while at the same time offering artists a world-class education in the social sciences.  

Each year, students of the programme work on group projects addressing real-world issues commissioned by partner institutions, businesses, associations, or individuals. Students also undertake internal debates and collective discussions, as well as external activities on related topics. This work culminates in an end-of-year presentation given to a panel comprised of teachers, experts and commissioning partners; a mandatory requirement of the degree.  

The Master’s in Arts and Politics is a full-time programme and takes place over one academic year. It is, however, designed to be compatible with professional work, with an average of one full day of teaching per week, accompanied by compulsory classes as part of the core curriculum at the School of Public Affairs and three weeks of intensive teaching.

The Institute for the Arts and Creation works alongside other researchers from Sciences Po, in particular the Political Humanities Society. 

This society is made up of researchers from all disciplines at Sciences Po, who have in common the use of art as a source in their research and teaching work – whether by drawing on a particular artwork, or by working with artists to develop theories.

Grounded in the idea of politics as an emotional experience, which can be shared through cultures and spaces, this approach calls on the imagination – through the art of fiction, imagery and stories. The power of conviction, visual intensity, and the stylistic weight of an artwork are all used to stimulate the imagination of students, encouraging them to become more civically engaged. In particular, this society offers an innovative programme of academic interdisciplinarity.

The Political Humanities Society has a dual strategic focus:

  • Fostering dialogue between all branches of the social sciences at Sciences Po, to ensure knowledge is shared without turning in circles.
  • Intergenerational interdisciplinary collective research is, by design, on a path of constant renewal; modest, reflexive and made up of constant back-and-forth. Research is about coming back to the starting point, in order to start afresh.  

The Political Humanities Society Manifesto:

‘Humanities’, in the academic sense of the word, is a very loaded term. It evokes a range of entrenched and compartmentalised disciplines that are focused on classical studies: literary texts, philosophy or history, as opposed to the soft or hard sciences. In the face of the urgency of the humanist and ecological turn, such distinctions between disciplines no longer make sense. The humanities must now be about sharing critical skills and building links: between disciplines, but also between humans, nature and works of art. 

Prioritising humanity in this way is necessarily political. Modernity has built the “splendid otherness of nature” on racial, gender and class privilege. Now, we need to come up with a new ethical approach, reinvent what the common good looks like, and rethink our place in cities and on this planet that we share not just with other humans. 

How? By promoting the idea of politics as an emotional experience, which can be shared through cultures and spaces; by encouraging the entire academic community to reflect without limitations on the big issues facing the contemporary world which future generations will confront. These include the impact of new technologies, environmental degradation, new forms of wealth creation, contemporary violence, the rise of religions, urbanisation, migration, etc.

How? Not by producing objective truths, or dry expertise, but by calling on imagination. Through the art of fiction, imagery and stories, which reveal an embodied humanity struggling with political anxiety, the vagaries of power, and the protection of human values.  

How? Through a specific way of thinking. This critical approach requires ideas to be challenged through spaces, languages and cultures: only by decentering and questioning accepted ideas can we unlock the heuristic and innovative potential that we need.  The power of conviction, visual intensity, and the stylistic weight of an artwork are often more likely to stimulate the imagination of students, while also troubling them and, with a bit of luck, encouraging them to become engaged citizens.

Writing residency: an immersive experience

Une étudiante participe à l'atelier d'écriture à l'IMEC (crédits : Sciences Po)

From Monday, 16 May to Friday 20 May, 2022, the CWR offered an original pedagogical project, thanks to the support of the Fondation Simone et Cino Del Duca, in the form of a week-long writing residence at the Institute for Contemporary Publishing Archives (Institut mémoires de l’édition contemporaine, or IMEC) at the Ardenne Abbey.

Find out more.

Writing and Rhetoric Centre

Sciences Po’s Writing and Rhetoric Centre help students develop and enrich their written and oral expression in order to improve their skills in public speaking.

Find out more