Information for the Fall 2020 semester
- Dean Enrico Letta
We write to provide you with the core elements of PSIA’s plan for Fall 2020 semester. The plan adheres to the general framework for the start of the next academic year outlined by Sciences Po President Frederic Mion on 12 May (read here).
As we prepare for the Fall semester and a new academic year in the context of an ongoing global pandemic and a new global recession that it has provoked, we reconfirm our commitment to train and shape global actors to understand and respond to the complexities of our world. These complexities are dealt with in each of our seven Master programs and 18 thematic and regional concentrations, including many issues which are becoming more acute: environment and sustainability, global health, migration, and inequality. The world needs the knowledge and skills you will acquire at PSIA, along with the motivation, creativity, and commitment that all PSIA students possess to address these complex challenges. There is no time to waste; the world needs you now!
We have every confidence that the Fall 2020 semester will kick start our second decade by providing PSIA students with an exciting and rewarding, if somewhat different, experience.
Together we will continue to work towards making the world a better, more secure place.
We look forward to seeing you soon!
PSIA's plan for Fall 2020
We have taken as much time as possible to adapt the plan to what remain uncertain circumstances; and are very grateful for your patience and understanding during this period. Knowledge about COVID-19’s impact and future course is uneven and incomplete. But we recognise that flexibility must be balanced with providing reasonable notice to teachers and students who will need time to respond to the plan.
Despite such uncertainty, it is tremendously pleasing to confirm that PSIA will welcome one of the most talented and diverse cohorts of new students this Fall. PSIA is proud to attract a student body comprising 30% French nationals and 70% who come from more than 100 different countries. We are also proud to attract a large majority of our world-renowned professors and leading practitioners from elsewhere in France, Europe or further afield. In times like these, this diversity is challenged by various constraints - most of which are beyond the control of Sciences Po. In the light of these constraints and with a view to protecting the unique diversity of our student and faculty community, to maintaining the academic excellence of our teaching, and to ensuring equitable access to our learning environment, all PSIA courses will be delivered online during the Fall 2020 semester.
Please continue reading to understand more fully why we took this decision, and some of the advantages we feel this will have for the PSIA community.
For the avoidance of doubt, the online delivery of teaching is not our preferred new model. We wish, and intend, to return to in-person instruction as soon as it is safe to do so. Nonetheless, the online delivery of courses represents the most appropriate and equitable solution for PSIA for the Fall 2020 semester. As for the Spring 2021 semester, we recognise that some students may prefer to stay remote and that some may still not be able to travel to our Paris campus by that time. We will make an announcement about the plan for the Spring as early as possible.
Rationale for our decision: safety and equity
First and foremost, our plan serves to safeguard the health of the PSIA community, whilst preserving our ability to train students how to understand, navigate and engage with the complexities of our world and the changes which continue to take place at pace.
Second, our plan ensures that the PSIA community continues to bring together the most diverse mix of international students and teachers, and that our curriculum will be optimised so that all students, regardless of their location, will have equitable access to the full range of PSIA courses (teaching and learning activities). Moreover, we are establishing new opportunities for teachers to enhance their engagement with students through small group or individual sessions to answer questions and to provide advice.
Third, our plan creates stability for the majority of students and teachers who are not normally based in France and who will need or prefer to operate remotely due to continuing pandemic conditions. Restrictions on international travel and the late processing of student visas are set to, at best, delay and, at worst, prevent the arrival of many PSIA students for the Fall semester. Similar restrictions will hamper the mobility of the large majority of PSIA faculty who travel back and forth to Paris from their home cities/countries in order to teach throughout the semester.
Let there be no doubt that Sciences Po’s Paris campus will be open throughout the Fall semester and that students are completely welcome to be based in Paris if you wish. This said, social distancing measures and other health regulations are expected to significantly limit access to buildings and the use of classrooms. Accordingly, PSIA will organise some on-campus activities for students in small groups, but these will be extra-curricular in nature (mainly events). All students, whether in Paris or not, will have access to such activities throughout the semester. Our plan allows each student to decide which is the best location for you to navigate the Fall 2020 semester as comfortably and effectively as possible.
Finally, our plan requires courses to be re-designed for online delivery. PSIA faculty are committed to maintaining the academic excellence of their courses under this new form of delivery. Indeed, it was our faculty’s remarkable engagement and dedication which allowed students to keep learning as normally as possible in response to the truly extraordinary circumstances of this past Spring. Faculty are benefitting from shared best practice and lessons learned from last semester, when over 300 PSIA courses were successfully transferred to online delivery in just a week.
Faculty have access to newly developed guidance and training in this respect, including in the use of a ‘Flipped Classroom’ design. This design allows students to access core content from an online platform whenever convenient to you, thereby enabling ‘live’ class sessions to focus more on student engagement with core concepts and/or the development of key skills. In short, PSIA faculty are already preparing for the online delivery of teaching; and the timing of our decision gives them as much time as possible to do this.
A new degree structure; a more in-depth learning experience
Our plan also importantly takes into account the implementation of a new degree structure for all PSIA Master programs starting from September 2020. The new structure will enable students to develop greater mastery in their chosen degree specialisations and concentrations. Students will be required to take fewer courses on average (five instead of seven), in order to spend more time (an extra 50 hours) and secure more credit (6 ECTS instead of 4) for each course. All PSIA courses are being re-designed to ensure a more in-depth learning experience, and assessments are being adjusted in line with the new credit weighting. There are clear synergies in re-designing PSIA courses both in response to a more in-depth learning experience and to the need for on-line delivery.
Different and unique opportunities for students
PSIA’s plan for the Fall 2020 semester includes some different and unique opportunities for students. Perhaps most obviously, students (and teachers) will develop new skills and new ways of learning / working, which will serve you well in an increasingly interconnected and digitalised world. All students will have an individual secured client account for the Zoom web-conference service, which will allow you to attend online classes and to create virtual meetings to exchange with your classmates - for academic and/or social purposes - at whatever time suits you and across time zones. And all students will have the technical support you need to optimise your access to all online activities.
PSIA has offered a vibrant platform for public debate in international affairs for the past ten years; indeed, this is part of our school’s DNA. PSIA students will continue to have the chance to challenge world leaders and distinguished guests on pressing global issues through a series of public events during the Fall semester. By making greater use of digital technologies, we will have better access to a range of high profile speakers who have previously eluded us due to the scheduling challenges of international travel. We are working on a special edition of our flagship Youth and Leaders Summit with a typically cutting edge topic and a new and innovative format to put students even more at the heart of the Summit than usual. Further details about YLS 2021 and speakers for Fall 2020 will be announced soon.
PSIA students will continue to have access to a full range of career-related activities and support - including professional workshops, skills development, discussions with alumni and employers, and career fairs – through various online platforms, so you can start or continue exploring future career paths.
In short, we are adapting and introducing new and innovative ways to build a virtual community that brings PSIA students together from across the world in this new context.
As we work to put the finishing touches on these different elements, we will continue to welcome and integrate you to the PSIA community over the coming months and to help you with your online course registration on Tuesday 7 July. Formal welcome sessions for will take place online from late August, and the first day of classes for the Fall 2020 semester is Monday 14 September.
Kick starting PSIA’s second decade
As you have read, our plan seeks to preserve the key elements which led you to apply to PSIA, and which places us #2 in the world for Politics and International Studies (QS ranking 2020).
The Class of 2022 will be the 11th since PSIA’s was established in 2010; read about PSIA’s first 10 years. We are proud of the difference that our School has made over the past decade in training and shaping our students to be future global actors.
As we celebrate our achievements of the past decade, we also commit ourselves to an even more promising future.
To see the responses to PSIA students' most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs),
Please consult our FAQ section.
(please note: the FAQs do not contain any new guidelines)