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Understand our times to shape the world’s future. Our ambitions for the next decade
A unique research university based on critical thinking
In 1872, the École libre des sciences politiques was founded with the ambition to train enlightened citizens and free, independent leaders capable of considered action, in order to build the foundations of the Third Republic. Emile Boutmy, the school‘s founder, believed in progress through science and was firmly convinced that teaching and research could change society. 150 years later, this founding ambition continues to inform Sciences Po’s vision.
Our three points of difference in French higher education:
- A governance model that gives us autonomy in the selection of students and faculty, in our teaching programmes, and in our areas of research.
- A multidisciplinary core curriculum in the humanities and social sciences (law, economics, political science, sociology, history)
- Interactive and innovative teaching methods, from the original methodology lecture to team projects, case studies, clinics, and large-scale simulations.
Over the past 20 years, Sciences Po has implemented considerable changes driven by an independent and pioneering spirit, scaling up to an unprecedented degree.
Major challenges for the coming decade
In a world beset by multiple global crises (health and the environment), a loss of political references (de-globalisation and the spread of authoritarianism) and faced with new opportunities (the new generations’ ecological awareness and fight against inequalities), Sciences Po has a fundamental role to play in enabling its 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students and 3,500 professionals in continuing education to shape the transformations to come.
More broadly, as a research university of international standing, Sciences Po embraces its social responsibility. We intend to play a key role in contributing to the vitality of public debate and democratic institutions amidst emerging threats to knowledge dissemination:
- Challenges to democratic debate
- Threats to academic freedom
- Risks of misinformation and polarisation in an ultra-connected world.
Taking our unique project even further
After two decades of development and transformation, Sciences Po is recognised by its peers as a leading international research university. To maintain our pioneering role in tackling major contemporary transformations, we must:
- Strengthen our academic base by increasing the size of our permanent faculty, building stronger links between teaching and research, and disseminating and promoting our academic output more widely.
- Embed Sciences Po more firmly in the regions where our campuses are located. Sciences Po was founded in Paris, but over the past 20 years has expanded to other French cities and is now also present in Dijon, Le Havre, Menton, Nancy, Poitiers, and Reims. We intend to consolidate the institution’s grounding in these regions and forge closer links with local stakeholders (local authorities, secondary schools, businesses, non-profit organisations).
- Reaffirm the international outlook of our institutional strategy and pursue engaged university diplomacy. With half of our students and a quarter of our permanent faculty coming from outside France, a wide range of languages taught, certain programmes delivered entirely in English, a compulsory third undergraduate year abroad, nearly 500 international university partners and a School of International Affairs, Sciences Po has chosen to make international engagement central to its mission. In a world that is becoming increasingly fragmented, we believe it is vital to continue to act as an open and engaged university: this is the purpose of Sciences Po’s international strategy.
- Promote equal opportunity. Sciences Po pioneered social, cultural, geographical and international inclusion programmes over 20 years ago and is now a socially inclusive university. This is achieved without compromising academic standards, since an average of 97% of the students we admit passed the baccalaureate with distinction. Our goal is to foster meritocracy and reactivate social mobility by educating talented students from all backgrounds.
- Strengthen Sciences Po’s place in public life. The many events held here, with speakers including leading figures from the political, business, and legal spheres, entrepreneurs, journalists, and artists, all contribute to the exchange of ideas that is integral to democratic principles. Our goal is to inform public debate by giving as many people as possible access to the knowledge produced within and disseminated by our institution, wherever they are and whatever their level of expertise.
- Ensure the sustainability of our mission by consolidating our model. After strong growth over the last 20 years, we must complete Sciences Po’s transformation to ensure the sustainability of our model and our ability to achieve our strategic ambitions. Mobilising new sources of public and private funding is a major objective. Our model must also reaffirm its social and environmental commitment in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Four new strategic ambitions for the next decade
Faced with the urgency of global change, it is the responsibility of a specialist social sciences university that educates decision-makers in public policy and private strategy to respond to the need to renew ways of thinking and questioning, conceptual approaches, and analytical frameworks.
- Become the leading research university in the social sciences in addressing the challenges of the 21st century
Sciences Po intends to fulfil its social responsibility by proposing solutions to major contemporary challenges, first and foremost the environmental and digital transformations, major changes in public policy, and the fight against discrimination and gender inequality.
- Offer all our students a unique, lifelong experience based on excellence and the ethics of debate
While preserving our fundamentals, we must constantly adapt our teaching approach to meet the new expectations of the professional world, integrate new technologies including artificial intelligence into our teaching methods, respond to the new challenges of lifelong learning, particularly for our alumni, and diversify our range of services for a renewed student experience.
- Rebuild the links between universities and business
The singularity of our educational approach is illustrated by the ability to combine fundamental knowledge with professional expertise thanks to our 4,600 adjunct instructors, many of whom are business practitioners. Throughout their degree programme, our students learn to translate their knowledge into a capacity for action, so that they leave our institution with a solid skills base. Companies are powerful drivers of economic and social change and have a real role to play in the major collective challenges we face. 70% of our graduates choose to go into the private sector. We want to further strengthen our links with the business world by expanding apprenticeships, supporting entrepreneurship, promoting research as an asset for business development, and developing sponsorship and partnerships.
- Promote and defend academic freedom
Sciences Po relentlessly defends the freedom to study, teach and conduct research. For many years, we have been actively involved in welcoming, supporting and training young refugees in France, as well as welcoming and integrating academics in exile.
Our institution intends to pursue and strengthen this commitment through the creation of a Centre for Academic Freedom, which will be organised around five key elements funded by our appeal:
- Significant development of our Professional Certificate in Social Sciences for young refugees
- The perpetuation of a fund to support refugee students admitted to Sciences Po on undergraduate or graduate degree courses
- The perpetuation of a fund to support exiled researchers
- The opening of a venue in Paris that will combine classrooms, lecture theatres, premises for student organisations, and an exhibition space
- Strengthening research, with the creation of a Chair in Refugee Studies.
Our new goals for the coming decade are intended to consolidate Sciences Po’s position as an international research university in the humanities and social sciences, but also to launch a new phase in its development, responding through expertise and collective intelligence to the major challenges of our time. Aware of its unique identity, supported by a sustainable economic model and the commitment of its entire working community, Sciences Po is well equipped to make its contribution to building tomorrow’s world.
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