“It is a really rich community”
- Students discuss outside the classroom ©Summer School / Sciences Po
Held on the Paris campus in the heart of the historic Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood, Sciences Po Summer School’s University Programme proposes two academic tracks in social sciences and French language. Students pick one core course from either academic track and, in addition, may choose to take an optional elective class. We met Tara and Will, respectively students in liberal arts in New Delhi, India, and in engineering in Perth, Australia. They both came to Sciences Po Summer School to perfect their French language skills and took Professor Hélène Périvier’s elective course “Challenging Societies with Gender”.
Why did you join the Sciences Po Summer School this year?
Tara: I was keen on revising my French because I hadn’t done it in a very long time and I liked the Sciences Po Summer School approach: they combine French language classes with politics and a lot of societal issues. I found that interesting and a good way of learning a language, it was a good combination.
Will: It is very much the same. I was looking to get back into my French. I looked through the electives and the gender studies one stood at me as another thing that I had really enjoyed doing in high school but hadn't had that much of an opportunity to look at at Uni.
What were your motivations to take Professor Périvier’s elective course “Challenging Societies with Gender”?
Tara: I am a feminist and I try to do as much with that as possible. But I still didn’t have the opportunity to take a gender studies course in my curriculum yet. I knew it was the Professor that was heading the gender studies programme at Sciences Po who taught this course, so I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to see how I liked studying something I am already so passionate about.
What are the key take-aways from this class?
Tara: For me, it is the combination of economics with other discussions on gender equality and inequalities. In any discussion on feminism and women's rights you need to have evidence to back up your arguments. This is what the Professor said during the first class: if you don’t have an understanding of data, you can be manipulated. So to me this is a very important take-away from this course.
Will: My feminism background had really been through literature: it was very much a qualitative looking at how people think and feel a certain way as a result of certain social stigmas. Whereas when you can put numbers to it, I think you can get a better idea than just a purely empirical approach. I think the Professor's economic background really enriches what I am getting out of it. It helps me to see and understand it all and to get to grips with more of the causes rather than "this is what's wrong".
Tara: I agree, yes. Also, the class has been very engaging so far. I was not sure what to expect but I like the way the Professor lets us give opinions and speak about the countries we're from. I think that combination of all these different international experiences is making it a much more enriching course.
Will: Yes it is a very diverse group and it really enriches the discussion! Everybody has something to offer, it is a really rich community.