- Astou Diouf ©Didier Pazery
Astou Diouf from Senegal is part of the first cohort of Mastercard Foundation Scholars studying at the Sciences Po campus in Reims. Astou plans one day to start a business in the agri-food industry in Africa.
You are nearing the end of your first year at Sciences Po. What were your first impressions? Did your experience change over the course of the year?
I arrived in a totally new environment and like any newcomer, I had to adapt to the social norms and take care of all the administrative procedures required to get set up here. At first, I was in that exciting phase of discovery of Reims and its beautiful buildings, and I was impressed by the cultural diversity inside and outside Sciences Po. Then as time went by, I had trouble adapting to the climate and keeping up with the coursework, what with the fairly abrupt transition from high school to university. But thanks to very effective academic support and guidance, I gained experience and maturity.
In Senegal, you took part in a summer camp focused on developing leadership and entrepreneurship skills. What qualities do you think a leader or entrepreneur needs today?
To a certain extent, the essential qualities of an entrepreneur or a leader are complementary. They centre on being able to identify the needs of your community and to respond effectively. It’s not a matter of individual action where the aim is to show off your own skills but of collective action that requires the active participation of each member of the community. I believe in service leadership and that’s the basis of my desire to help the needy through practical and impactful involvement.
You are a Mastercard Foundation Scholar and you plan one day to start a business in the agri-food industry. Can you tell us more about that?
The plan is focused on developing Senegal’s agribusiness industry through the transformation of agricultural products, which involves improving producer-consumer relations, industrial restructuring and the development of efficient strategies that suit existing social structures. On a larger scale, the plan’s objective is to promote interregional cooperation in the industry in Africa so as to facilitate economic integration. Given the global dynamics of the agriculture industry, I believe it is imperative to strengthen the sector in Africa and to be able to respond to food and environmental challenges. Thanks to the summer camp I attended, I got interested in various agri-food sectors and I had the privilege of working with students and business leaders who aspire to contribute to the continent’s development. I would like to play my part.
What have you learned at Sciences Po that will help you with your project?
In general, I’ve been able to develop my critical thinking and analytical skills on a given subject through each of the modules I’ve taken. The strong focus on political, economic and social dynamics around the world will help me to study and analyse the factors I’ll need to work on to see my plan through.
How does the Mastercard Foundation programme support you with your experience at Sciences Po and your career plans?
Being a part of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars programme and meeting other young Africans who share a love for Africa is really a golden opportunity. Thanks to the superb programme coordinators, Marie Azuelos and Lucille Amsallem, my fellow scholars and I have been able to overcome the difficulties that we’ve faced both academically and socially. With regard to our career plans, we have taken part in several activities that gave us insight into rewarding professional opportunities, such as the Forum Afrique Destination Emplois that was held in Paris. In addition, the programme gives us the chance to build a considerable network through a mentoring scheme and meetings with executives and senior civil servants.
Read more about the first cohort of Sciences Po - Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program
- L'Assault, Sciences Po's fencing team ©Sciences Po
L’Assaut, Sciences Po’s fencing team, has just returned from the latest French University championships with four medals, including two gold. Interview with team captain Adrien Dorny.
Adrien Dorny, you and your team have returned with four medals including two gold from the latest French University Fencing Championships. Is this a consecration for your fencing team?
We are very proud of these results! Four medals, it's the most we’ve won at French University championships. The two team golds make us particularly happy. For the ladies, the champion title of France is all the more rewarding because it all played out in the very last moments of the final. As for the men's, we were really eager to win the gold since we had taken home the silver last year. All our shooters leave medalists, we couldn’t imagine better!
Since when have you practiced fencing? How do you articulate the time spent studying and your passion for the sport?
Most of us started fencing very young. The sport is a really important part of our lives. We have many associated memories. It allowed us to forge friendships, face defeat, or to gain confidence. More specifically, fencing is a spectacular sport, particularly tactical, where endurance, speed, precision and risk-taking are valued. Combining studies and training in our respective clubs and university and federal competitions has been, since high school, a challenge for all of us. It’s not always easy in everyday life, it requires good organization.
Tell us about your team, L’Assault. Does one need to be a champion to join?
This year we had eight qualified members for the French championships, from the Undergraduate College (Paris and Reims campuses) and the Master's level, and from the Certificate Programme for high-level athletes of Sciences Po. A wise mix in short! In total, our team consists of about fifteen members regularly participating in university competitions. But we welcome everyone, beginners and advanced. I encourage all Sciences Po students to discover this fascinating sport through the sword initiation courses offered by the Sports Association. For those who practice or have already practiced fencing in the past, we expect to see you next year to continue to garnish our trophy cabinet!
How do you see your team’s future in the years to follow?
Our team was created in 2015, so it’s still quite young. We want to continue to develop it to make it one of Sciences Po’s main teams. This, of course, will require winning more medals at the French university championships, but also recruiting more members and having an effective communication with students. Ultimately, one of our goals would be to have fencing recognized as a "mystery" sport at the inter-IEP tournament, the "Crit"! I’m sure our fencers would greatly help Sciences Po win the competition.
At the 2018 French University Championships, Amelie Awong (épée) and Adrien Dorny (foil) each won a bronze medal in the individual event. The women’s fencing team, composed of Amelie Awong and Mailys Vignoud, and the men's foil team, composed of Gautier Merit, Victor Querton, Adrien Dorny and Audric Heurtier, each won a gold medal.
In three years of existence, L'Assaut, created in 2015, has won eight national medals, including four gold.
- Portrait of Zipporah Gakuu ©Didier Pazery / Sciences Po
Zipporah Gakuu is a first-year student and part of the first cohort of Mastercard Foundation scholars at Sciences Po. From Kenya to her first steps on campus to today, her commitment to giving back to society and defending women and children’s rights is growing everyday.
You are now in your second semester of your studies at Sciences Po. What were your first impressions when you arrived?
My first semester was initially a bit of a hurdle due to the language barrier and the different climate. Today, my French has improved drastically and I am more adjusted to the weather, considering it was my first winter experience!
What have you learned so far that has changed how you apprehend your career goals?
I have learned that anything is attainable as long as you put your all into whatever it is you want.
Have you gotten involved in any clubs, athletics or other student life activities on campus? What have these experiences brought you?
I am a member of the SASA Association on campus, which is an association that focuses on African issues. As a member of the Logistics pole, I am immersed and engaged in African issues by discussing and debating with fellow African intellects, but also by coming up with possible solutions to try and act on them. This has enlightened me on the whole scope of possibilities for the African continent to overcome its challenges through unity. I also joined the Amnesty International in Reims and AISEC. Through these associations, I have been able to express my opinion and standpoints on different issues facing humanity. I have become more aware of various human rights issues and their violations. It has encouraged me to not remain silenced whenever these violations occur, and it has made me realize that even small actions such as signing petitions can have a great ripple effect.
After high school, you volunteered at the Child Vision Support Foundation, helping disadvantaged young women access sanitary products. How did this experience shape your aspirations?
I attended a public primary school in Naivasha, Kenya. At thirteen, most of my female classmates were starting their menstrual periods. Some of them would opt for pieces of cloth or cotton as they did not have access to proper sanitary towels. Others would not come to school at all during their menstrual periods. This made me realize the challenge that young school girls faced during this time of the month. Despite the efforts of some NGOs to hand out sanitary towels to adolescent girls, they were never enough. More needed to be done, thus, during my gap year, I decided to volunteer with the organization.
This experience nurtured my passion for community service and giving back to society. It made me a believer in small efforts having huge effects on society. It empowered me and encouraged me to motivate other young girls in my society to come together to achieve the goals they set for themselves and their communities.
You've said that you would like to become further involved in defending women and children's rights in Africa with organizations such as Amnesty International. What main developments would you like to see happen?
Women and children tend to be the most vulnerable members of society. Their rights are infringed everyday despite the efforts of countless organizations that support them. I dream of a day where gender equality shall be attained, a society where half the population shall no longer be held in silence. My goal is to empower as many young women as I can, as women are the pivots of society. Once a woman’s rights are observed, children also see their rights defended. I imagine a community where no child dies of starvation, no child has to hawk in the streets, no child has to sleep out in the cold, and each and every child has access to basic needs. To achieve this, one needs to understand why these issues arose in the first place, why our societies oppress women and children. Studying social sciences at Sciences Po will give me this knowledge. It will help me understand the process of socialization and maybe then, we can be able to retrace our steps to what went wrong.
How has the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program accompanied you in your learning experience at Sciences Po?
The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I have been connected to a strong network of African scholars around the globe, all who are ambitious and true visionaries. More so, Sciences Po has enabled me to network with professionals through forums such as the Forum Afrique Destination Emplois that was held in Paris in November; an enlightening experience. The program has also provided great support for me here at Sciences Po, facilitating my smooth adjustment into the curriculum and the different aspects of life on campus.
- About the Sciences Po undergraduate College and the Europe-Africa programme
- About the MasterCard Foundation programme and scholarships at Sciences Po
Read more about the first cohort of Sciences Po - Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program
- Are We Europe receiving a prize for journalism @Christian Beaussier/Sciences Po
What does it mean to be European today? Several Sciences Po students asked themselves this very question when they created Are We Europe, an online magazine that is now a community of 150 photographers, videomakers and journalists all around Europe.
After one year and 7 issues, Are We Europe won the European Charlemagne Youth Prize and gained financial support from the Dutch journalism fund. We interviewed Kyrill Hartog, Dutch-Ukrainien co-founder and student of the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs.
Every issue of Are We Europe deals with a specific theme: unity in Europe, the future of European cities, climate and nature, etc. Twenty or so Sciences Po students are regular contributors to the magazine. Are We Europe is currently raising funds for their print edition.
- Illustration of the Simone Veil Lecture Hall ©Sciences Po
Students will now have class in the Simone Veil or Jeannie de Clarens lecture halls, the first at Sciences Po to be named after women. In honor of two extraordinary graduates, this decision to rename lecture halls after two female alumni with extraordinary stories is a symbolic gesture in celebration of International Women’s Day, amongst other actions taken in favor of gender equality.
Simone Veil (1927-2017), a major political figure and icon of the Women’s Rights movement
Located at the 28 rue des Saint-Pères site in the heart of Paris, the Caquot lecture hall is being renamed Simone Veil after one of Sciences Po’s most famous graduates who passed away in June 2017. Simone Veil began her studies at Sciences Po at 18 years old in October 1945, less than six months after returning from a concentration camp in Germany, where most of her family died. She spent three “happy and intense” years studying in the Public Service section, one of the most male-dominated sections of the institution at the time, with only 20% of women. She graduated in 1948 at 21 years old, highly determined to enter the professional world once her husband, Antoine Veil, whom she met at Sciences Po, had graduated from ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration or French School of Administration). In 1956, Simone Veil passed the national examination to become a magistrate. In 1970, she became secretary general of the Supreme Magistracy Council. In 1974, she became the Minister of Health and within the same year successfully pushed the law that legalized abortion, becoming an icon of the Women’s Rights movement. She later became the first president of the European Parliament (1979-1982), and a prominent political figure in the construction of the European Union. She passed away in June 2017, and was elected to the Académie Française (French Academy) in 2018. She will enter the Pantheon in July of 2018.
Jeannie de Clarens (1919-2017), interpreter, spy and heroine of the French Resistance
Born in 1919, Jeannie Rousseau was the daughter of a brilliant multilingual diplomat. She studied at Sciences Po from 1937 to 1940 and graduated at the top of her class. At the outbreak of World War II, she moved with her family to Dinard, Brittany, where she began working as an interpreter for the occupying German forces. This led her to become one of the most talented (and unknown) spies of the Second World War. In Brittany and then in Paris, where she returned in 1941, she transmitted information that she gathered from the German authorities thanks to her position as a translator and interpreter. In 1942, she was recruited by the French Resistance. Under the code name “Amniarix,” she was responsible for one of the greatest exploits of the Allied forces for transmitting intelligence that allowed the British army to delay the development of the German flying bombs V-1 and V-2. In April 1944, she was arrested by the Gestapo and deported to Ravensbrück. One year later, in April 1945, she was released and returned to Paris. After the war, she married Henri de Clarens and pursued a career in translation, working for the United Nations and other international organizations. She seldomly spoke about her past. She was later awarded the Resistance Medal and the Croix de Guerre. In 2009, she was made a member of the Legion of Honor. She passed away on August 23rd, 2017, at 98 years old.
> Read her portrait in The New York Times.
Sciences Po’s actions for gender equality
As one of 10 “University Champions” of the United Nations’ HeForShe programme, Sciences Po is committed to promoting gender equality through a number of actions: professional workshops and awareness campaigns on everyday sexism, recommendations sent to faculty on preventing inequalities in the classroom, a "bring your children to work" day on 28 March, 2018, and many more.
> Discover 8 ways Sciences Po acts to advance gender equality.
- A woman student speaking up ©Sciences Po
Not just in the event of Women’s History Month but throughout the entire year, Sciences Po takes measures to advance gender equality. Here are 8 ways Sciences Po takes action to promote gender equality in the university.
1 - Our President, Frédéric Mion, represents Sciences Po as a HeForShe University Champion, collecting solutions from the students themselves to help us pursue ambitious targets.
Raising students’ awareness
2 - We train student associations and promote parity at the governance level. The Student Life Charte (pdf, 438 Kb) serves as a reference to the principles of gender equality, and is sent out to all faculty and students to ensure equality in the classroom and on campus.
3 - We conduct regular professional workshops and awareness campaigns on everyday sexism and sexual respect. We also provide walls for free-expression, and hold forums on speaking up about sexual harassment.
Tools and guides to foster a culture of equality
4 - At the start of each academic semester, recommendations are sent out to all faculty to ensure equality in the classroom.
5 - A sexual harassment monitoring unit was set up in 2015 to fight sexual violence and create an environment of sexual respect throughout the Sciences Po community.
6 - A Non-Sexist Communication Charter has been in application since 2016, and staff are asked to follow a Guide to Inclusive and Gender-Respectful Writing.
Appropriate hiring practices
7 - Specific training workshops have been put into place for male and female students to better understand gender inequalities at work and train on core career skills: assertiveness, salary negotiation, work-life balance and public speaking.
8 - We have an exemplary gender-balanced governance with now 6 women out of 13 members on the Sciences Po Executive Committee. It is an obligation that the selection committees for the recruitment of permanent faculty be gender-balanced. Academic coordinators are made aware of the 40% gender balance target when hiring temporary teaching staff.
- Emile Boutmy & Eiffel scholarship holders ©Sciences Po
Every year, nearly 300 international students benefit from the Emile Boutmy or Eiffel scholarships. These scholarships are funded by Sciences Po and our public & private partners, and allow students from around the world to study at Sciences Po.
Emile Boutmy, the founder of Sciences Po, was from the beginning committed to opening the school to international students, who today make up 47% of the student body.
- Students at the door entrance of a Silicon Valley startup ©Sciences Po
To get students thinking about the many aspects of the digital revolution, Sciences Po’s Entrepreneurship Centre took 15 of them to Silicon Valley for a close-up look at technology’s key players, including Facebook, Google and AirBnb. Yaël, who is doing a research-based Master’s in political theory at the Sciences Po Doctoral School, and Thomas, an engineering student at Polytechnique, took part in this immersion-learning trip. Machine learning, blockchain, data science... they told us all about it.
What made you want to take part in this Silicon Valley experience?
Thomas: As an engineering student, Silicon Valley is pretty much legendary, so it’s not the sort of trip you refuse! But I also wanted to go because of some questions I have. This place is home to companies that are changing the world. Everybody from the United States to Africa has Facebook and WhatsApp, for instance. So we need ask ourselves what impacts these companies are having. What do they contribute in terms of democracy and equality?
Yaël: Sciences Po’s Entrepreneurship Centre invited us to go in “tandem”; each Sciences Po student had to pair up with a science or technology student. The questions engineers ask are different from the things Sciences Po students ask and that’s really interesting! When we met with Criteo [a company specialised in targeted advertising] for example, Thomas asked a lot of technical questions about machine learning.
As well as tech giants like Facebook and Google, you met with successful startups like Coursera and researchers from Berkeley and Stanford. What did you get out of meeting such diverse stakeholders?
Yaël: By meeting them in turn, you understand how much everything is interconnected. Silicon Valley is an extremely well established ecosystem, from researchers to investors to companies, which are just one part of the chain. You quickly understand that this fluidity is one of the key elements of Silicon Valley.
Thomas: You also understand that, in the end, the goal of any startup is to go public on the stock market or to find a buyer. And it’s interesting to see that companies such as Uber or Airbnb aren’t based on any real technical innovations. Their main innovation is an idea and how they implement it. In the case of Criteo, which we mentioned before, their targeted advertising is not innovative; it’s their business model that is highly sophisticated. Their edge is more economic than technical.
What surprised you?
Thomas: The entrepreneurial ideology is everywhere and there is no clear division between work and private life. The Facebook campus is a small town, like a little amusement park where food is free and people can spend the day. Each individual is a mini-start up. People go into a company, get fired, start their own business, mess up, start over...
Yaël: The Americans’ constant enthusiasm is a real culture shock. It’s a culture where people think positive about everything, including failure. Which is a good thing, sure, but sometimes you wonder if there’s any room for self-critique. At a meeting with one researcher, we asked him about some of his difficulties and his answer surprised all of us: “We’re not going to get into a criticism of my work!”
Which visits or meetings had the most impact on you?
Yaël: The meeting with Tenzin Seldon, a Tibetan who created a startup, Kinstep, that aims to “match” the skills of refugees with the needs of businesses. She explained to us that hers was a consciously pragmatic solution because that’s how everything works out there: everything is monetized, including philanthropy. Moreover, she was well aware of the limits of this system.
Thomas: I was very interested in our meeting with a “mathlete” [mathematics champion] at Google. He specialises in the development of new machine learning methods in the medical field. He is convinced that the next innovations will be in this area.
Did these encounters inspire you? Did they make you want to transpose certain aspects of Silicon Valley to France?
Thomas: We came back with quite mixed feelings about the Silicon Valley model; in fact our “learning expedition” sometimes turned into a “judging expedition”! The near complete absence of state intervention creates a certain number of “flaws”, particularly social ones: California is the state with the most homeless people, prisoners, poverty, etc. The Silicon Valley milieu is in fact a very ideological, very “solutionist” environment, including for social problems. To give you an example, the company Palantir has a philanthropic department. This department has set up an application to track homeless people and offer housing… to those who cost the most. And that’s not to mention ethical issues, which are set aside and at best considered after the fact, or the question of privacy that no one is asking. It’s all about trying to push the limits as far as possible and the idea of debate has no place there.
Yaël: The principle of a startup is to disrupt a market, which implies having found a flaw, as Airbnb did by proposing a competitive alternative to hotels. But it’s clear that when a market is disrupted, this raises social, legal, economic and other problems. The Silicon Valley model is not ideologically neutral. During our stay, I enjoyed the meeting with Fred Turner, a historian of American culture who has worked extensively on the history of Silicon Valley. He is very critical about inequalities in California. Which clearly poses the problem of whether this model is transposable to France. Our culture is not the same and the startups that are being created here are much more aware of their social and environmental impact. Our ecosystem is more “conscious”, which is a good thing.
Find out more
- Yaël Benayoun has just completed a research Master’s degree in political theory at Sciences Po. She is also president of the association Mouton numérique, which examines our relationship to digital technology.
- Thomas Sentis is a student at École polytechnique specialising in artificial intelligence. He is also studying philosophy of science.
- Start a business while studying with the Sciences Po incubator
- Fitiavana Andry ©Didier Pazery / Sciences Po
Fitiavana Andry from Madagascar wants to play a part in her country's future. Fitiavana belongs to the first cohort of Sciences Po - MasterCard Foundation scholars, a programme that supports committed students from Africa.
Fitiavana, you are from Antananarivo, Madagascar, where you were elected “best young patriot”. Can you tell us about this programme?
“Young Patriots” is a programme launched by “Generation Citizen Madagascar”, an association attached to the Ministry of Heritage and supported by the American Embassy. Its purpose is to train high school students from the capital, Antananarivo, in the notions of citizenship, civic engagement, leadership and democracy. During the course, the “best young patriot” award was launched to motivate participants to get more actively involved and express themselves more, and I won. Being best young patriot basically means being a leader, helping others as best as you can, serving them, and being a spokesperson when required.
You started studying at Sciences Po in September 2017 in Reims, France. What courses are you taking?
As I’m in first year, I take all the core courses and the compulsory courses in mathematics, political humanities and languages (English, and I chose Arabic as a second language). I was surprised to see that we started from a general, global point of view before getting into the specialisations and issues relating to Africa. But this meant, for example, that I could take a course on political institutions, which I found very interesting because I learned—and more importantly understood—the workings of the political system since the nineteenth century and the repercussions this has in other areas.
What are your first impressions of France?
France is quite a different world from everything I had experienced so far, because this is the first time that I've left Madagascar! Practically everything is new to me here. At first I thought everything was complicated, but in fact you just have to give yourself some time to adapt; after that you get used to the country pretty quickly.
What would you like to do after Sciences Po?
After Sciences Po I'll keep studying, if possible until I get a PhD. I thought of specialising in international relations, but lately I've also been interested in business issues and startups. For later on, I know that Sciences Po will give me a fairly solid grounding, personally as much as intellectually, because here it's not just about learning your lessons and passing courses, but also about developing your personal skills and abilities.
What developments would you like to see in Madagascar's future?
I would like to see developments in every area! I would like there to be less corruption, more transparency in the management of state affairs, and stability. I would especially like politicians to focus on sustainable development issues. From an economic perspective, I find that the benefits derived from the various sectors should have an impact on improving infrastructure (roads, public buildings, etc.) in each of the island's regions to bring about real, lasting development. Finally, the improvement of teaching conditions is particularly important to me, especially in rural areas. I would like every Malagasy child to have the right to the best possible education, because education is basic to making any activity a success.
Do you plan to take part in these developments?
Yes, it's up to us as young people to meet the challenges that our predecessors could not meet. The future is being built today and the best time to bring about much-needed changes is now. It is true that for the moment, even if I'm not over there, my studies here are already part of these changes because I'm accumulating knowledge and experiences that I will later be able to share, and thereby encourage other young Malagasy. I want to contribute to the advancement of Madagascar so that our little brothers and sisters can have a better future, a better life.
- About the Sciences Po undergraduate College and the Europe-Africa programme
- About the MasterCard Foundation programme and scholarships at Sciences Po
- ©Sogelym Dixence / Wilmotte & Associés Architectes / Moreau Kusunoki Architectes
A new chapter in Sciences Po’s history is beginning. The redevelopment project chosen for the Artillerie site acquired in late 2016 has been unveiled: it is the work of the team led by Sogelym Dixence with architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte. Beyond the architectural challenge of transforming a seventeenth-century novitiate into a sustainable, innovative university campus, this plan represents a complete renewal of Sciences Po after 150 years of existence.
Sciences Po acquired the Artillerie site in December 2016 and launched a competitive negotiation process to redevelop it in early 2017. The consortium that has won the contract is a real dream team made up of leading names in architecture, campus specialists and sustainable building experts. Alongside the property developer Sogelym Dixence, the consortium brings together architecture firms Wilmotte & Associés and Moreau Kusunoki, and international higher education specialist Sasaki (read more in our press release (pdf, 56 Kb).
A sustainable, innovative campus
It is no small challenge to transform a seventeenth-century novitiate into a campus capable of adapting to tomorrow’s higher education needs and still remain true to the university’s identity, which has been 150 years in the making. The result is a measured, elegant architectural design that sets off this exceptional heritage to full advantage while creating spaces that look to the future.
A campus to attract talent from around the world
With this new 14,000 m2 site, Sciences Po will consolidate its historic grounding in the heart of Paris and enhance its profile. Redesigned and streamlined, Campus 2022 will be better organised, more coherent and able to cater optimally to more than 10,000 students and 200 faculty members in the middle of the capital. This world-class urban campus worthy of one of Europe’s leading research universities is destined to attract top faculty and students from around the world.
Find out more
- Prepare your online course registration
It is essential to check that this information is exact and to contact the relevant departments should you notice any missing information or errors.
This guide and the tutorials clearly explains the registration process, step by step, and will help you to prepare in advance for it.
- Romaric Compaoré ©Didier Pazery / Sciences Po
Romaric Compaoré comes from Burkina Faso and is working on a project to facilitate access to water in his village. Romaric is part of the first cohort of Sciences Po - MasterCard Foundation Scholars, a programme to educate and support bright young African students with a personal commitment to changing the world around them.
Romaric Compaoré is from Burkina Faso. He has joined the Europe-Africa programme at Sciences Po as a Mastercard Foundation Scholar. Romaric talked to us about the water tower project he initiated in his village in Burkina Faso, and more generally about his desire to be involved in advancing African integration.
Why did you choose the Europe-Africa programme at Sciences Po?
I wanted to get to know my continent better so I could take an active part in its development. I was looking for a really African programme, not like the African Studies programmes at American universities. I wanted a strong African focus. When I heard about Sciences Po’s Europe-Africa programme at my high school in Ouagadougou, I knew it was for me. Then when I learned there was a Mastercard Foundation scholarship for African students keen to contribute to the continent’s development, that was the icing on the cake.
Where does this desire to become an expert on Africa come from?
The development of my country, Burkina Faso, is closely linked to the development of the continent’s other countries. African countries have to solve their problems together. I want to devote my efforts to the economical and political integration of African countries. That’s why I want to become an expert on the continent. Later, I would like to join an organisation like the African Union, or start a company to work towards African integration.
When you were 16, you launched a project to build a water tower in your village in Burkina Faso. Can you tell us more?
It was at high school that I started the Yakin project, named after my village in Burkina Faso. The goal is to build a water tower in Yakin, a village where the main economic activity is market gardening.
But market gardening is only possible for three months a year, in the rainy season. Over those three months, the villagers manage to grow enough produce for the whole village. But after the three months, in the dry season, water is difficult to find. The children are tasked with fetching water and leave school. The women can’t go to the hospital because it involves costs they can’t pay. Without treatment, many children die of fever.
If water were available all year, the village would have income all year. Solving the water problem would solve most of the village’s other problems.
I started this project in Year 11 and I plan to finish it in 2018.
How do you plan to finish the water tower project in Burkina Faso while you’re studying at Sciences Po?
I’ve already raised quite a lot of money, but we still need more to make the project a reality. When I arrived at Sciences Po, I presented the project and the Reims students chose it as one of student initiatives for the year, which means I’ll be able to keep working on it and raising funds, even at a distance. My goal for 2018 is to raise the necessary funds to build the water tower and get it up and running.
Find out more
- Marco Hazan ©Sciences Po
Marco Hazan, a Master of Marketing and Market Research student at Sciences Po, is also the creator of the successful photographic series Humans of Paris, inspired by Humans of New York.
Marco is a photographer who loves Parisians and has been photographing people he comes across in the streets of Paris for several years. His Facebook page now has more than 300,000 fans. Watch our video portrait of a young photographer who believes that digital technology can serve to connect people and encourage a spirit of tolerance.
Throughout his Master's study, Marco will photograph students at Sciences Po. You can find their portraits and stories on our Instagram account. Follow Humans of Paris on the website, on Facebook and on Instagram.
Find out more
- Anan Bouapha ©Sciences Po
In 2012, Anan Bouapha founded Proud to Be Us Laos, the country's first civil society organisation promoting equal rights for young LGBTI. In 2017, he enrolled in a one-year Master’s programme at the Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs with the goal of acquiring the necessary skills to make his organisation into a think-tank.
In 2012, at the age of 25, you and your association Proud To Be Us Laos organised the first LGBT pride event in Laos. How did the public and the government react to this initiative?
In the local context, I would not use the term LGBT pride as it is prone to misinterpretation, particularly by the government as they think that it’s a Western ideology, especially when international governmental organisations were among our supporters.
However, building on the fact that gay men and transgender people have been taken into account in the National Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS Prevention (Ministry of Health), the core objective was to create a public platform for all LGBTI individuals, society and related sectors to discuss LGBTI issues openly without fear.
This is a great step forward for Laos to work further with this community, and I hope not just in terms of health issues. We must recognise the Lao government for working vigorously to fight HIV/AIDS and trying to become more open to the needs of this population.
That is how the doors gradually open, so the team and I are taking advantage of this opportunity to create a more open dialogue about this issue in Lao society. Being LGBTI is not a Western influence, it’s a human reality. It’s time to talk about it not just in the context of health, but in its social, economic and political aspects.
Has recognition of the LGBT community in Laos improved since the first event five years ago?
Progress is hard to measure because there are so many components that need to be integrated in the approach to this difficult task. However, our tireless contribution and ongoing movement, as well as the positive efforts of the Lao government to understand the issue, have made the community realise that things are getting better everyday. For example, the first International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in 2015 was aired on Lao National Television—a government-owned media—and a transgender outreach worker got the opportunity to talk about her hopes as a transgender person. It was an unforgettable moment for us to see this thing appear in the national media, a highlight for the LGBTI community in Laos. Also, last May the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia was attended by some officials from the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the event was allowed to be aired on national television for the second time. This is the beginning of positive change.
These events could be interpreted as positive recognition from the Lao government, after all our hard work and perseverance to make the voices of the LGBTI community heard through a local approach with our government and technical support from international governments and coalitions.
You have just started the Master in Advanced Global Studies, a programme for young professionals offered by the Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs. What are your expectations of the programme?
As I am already working, I know what I want to do for a living later. I hope that the programme will provide me with a more professional approach and give me exposure to inspiring alumni and professionals so I can polish my professional skills and build my network. I also look forward to sessions with career advisors focused on how we can improve our professional prospects after Sciences Po.
What do you plan to do after the Master’s programme?
I will get back to my LGBTI rights movement, Proud to be us Laos, with a firmer grasp of political sociology and human rights language and tools. In Laos, I will try to obtain a legal status for my organisation from my government. It would make Proud To Be Us the first civil society organisation that touches base with a key young at-risk community like LGBT. I would like to see Proud to be Us Laos become a think-tank for the government, so that we can help alleviate the difficulties that the government is currently encountering in terms of HIV/AIDS among one of the most affected populations.
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- Ashale Chi ©Didier Pazery
Ashale Chi from Cameroon is part of the first cohort of MasterCard Foundation Scholars at Sciences Po. Ashale talked to us about her first months in the Europe-Africa programme on the Sciences Po campus in Reims and her healthy passion for helping others.
You started classes on the Reims campus in early September. What are your first impressions?
These first few months have been quite hectic. I have courses in French and English, and I'm taking French language classes as well. I like it because I'm really improving my level of French, but it's also hard because I have to learn over in French all the notions that I already mastered in English.
Overall, studying here requires a lot of rigor, a bit like the International Baccalaureate. I have an essay to do every week, required readings in almost every subject, and the lecturers also give us bibliographies to study the topics in more depth, so it's a lot of work. But the good news is that I'll be bilingual when I leave Sciences Po, so overall I'm adapting! Plus, the resources available to students are amazing and the students are very supportive of each other, so there is a lot of help on campus.
You're a volunteer at Cordées de la Réussite*. What do you like about this association?
I like volunteer work; I like helping others. It comes naturally to me so I don't have to make a particular effort. On the contrary, it does me good! Our relationship with the middle school students at Cordées de la Réussite is very friendly, it's a real relationship of trust. For example, we go to the movies with them, then at our Monday meetings we share our ideas about the film through creative workshops. We encourage them to talk about the film through their creative project. I really get a lot out of the relationship.
You were a volunteer for the Red Cross in Cameroon and you want to join the Red Cross in Reims. Where does this commitment come from?
Four years ago, there was an epidemic in Cameroon and my father fell ill. Finding treatment for him was very complicated and I realised just how outdated the organisation of healthcare is in Cameroon. There is a lot that needs to be done to ensure that if an epidemic hits, for example, the population is informed, treated and reassured. That was when I developed an interest in healthcare. I really want to be a part of developing the health system in Cameroon. Right now that is the type of meaningful career I'm aiming for after my studies.
* "Cordées de la réussite" aims to promote young people's access to higher education, whatever their socio-cultural background, by giving them the means and drive to get into top academic programme.
- Sciences Po in Paris ©Sciences Po
In November, December and January, Sciences Po graduate schools will run a series of live Q&A sessions. If you have questions about admissions, education, financial aid, career prospects, life in Paris and more, why not ask Sciences Po students and graduate school deans your questions live online?
Live Q&A sessions
- Sciences Po School of Public Affairs - Monday 6 November (6 pm). Receive a reminder
- Sciences Po School of Journalism - Thursday 9 November (12 am). Receive a reminder
- Sciences Po Urban School - Thursday 9 November (3 pm). Receive a reminder
- Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs - Wednesday 22 November (3 pm). Receive a reminder
- Sciences Po School of Management & Innovation - Wednesday 29 November (2 pm). Receive a reminder
- Sciences Po Doctoral School - Monday 11 December (12 am). Receive a reminder
- Sciences Po Law School - Wednesday 17 January 2018 (1 pm). Receive a reminder
- All you need to know about the Sciences Po Undergraduate College
On Tuesday, 28 November 2017 at 2 pm (Paris time), undergraduate students and Sciences Po representatives will take part in an online Q&A session.
- What do you learn at the Sciences Po Undergraduate College?
- Is it possible to study entirely in English?
- How do I apply through the international admissions procedure?
- What is life like on the Sciences Po campuses in France?
- What does it cost?
- What are the opportunities for graduates?
Hear from students and Sciences Po representatives, and ask all your questions live.
- What Bachelor’s graduates take away from their studies at Sciences Po? On 6 September on the Paris campus, students from the seven campus celebrated their graduation from the Sciences Po Undergraduate College. Watch the video
- Learn more about undergraduate education at Sciences Po
- Learn more about international undergraduate admissions at Sciences Po
- Rolla Saadé's student record ©Sciences Po
Imagine being a well-behaved young foreign woman far from her family in Paris in May '68. Imagine being any young woman at Sciences Po in the late 1960s, where the 25 percent of female students had to struggle to achieve more than the graduate destination expected of them: marriage. That was Rula Ghani 47 years ago. Today, she is the first First Lady of Afghanistan to have a public profile; an example and source of hope for Afghan women. “I learned to adapt”, she modestly comments. We looked back on the student years of this exceptional alumna, who gave a guest lecture at Sciences Po on Friday, October 13.
In 1966, the young Rolla Saadé—Ghani's maiden name—was enrolled in the Preparatory Year* at Sciences Po. She arrived in Paris with the “demographic wave” of the 1960s that brought the number of students at Sciences Po to 4,000. A Lebanese national, Saadé was one of about 700 foreigners at the institution, or around 20 percent of the student body—far from the 50 percent of 2017.
The marks and comments in young Saadé's student record substantiate the reputation of the notorious Preparatory Year. It was so demanding that the 50 percent of each cohort who were not eliminated in the final exam considered themselves the only “true Sciences Po” students. “Attentive, hardworking, still lacks method and maturity” wrote her history and geography lecturer. Though a very average student in first year, she distinguished herself in English with a “level clearly superior to the students of the group”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Afghan first lady now speaks five languages.
“A model student, if such a category existed”
The difficult Preparatory Year was nonetheless the best possible training for the rest of the Sciences Po programme. Having scraped through the final exam, the young Rolla Saadé became a very good student in the International Relations section. Her choice of courses included “Developing Countries”, “The Great Powers” and “The Middle East”. One lecturer noticed her “intelligence and a sometimes naive freshness” and appreciated “her personal and original views.” In international relations, her lecturer noted her “highly inquiring mind and sound judgment”. “A model student, if such a category existed” her English lecturer enthused.
A model of emancipation
She graduated from Sciences Po in 1969 and began studying at the American University of Beirut, “lastingly inspired” by the revolutionary effervescence of 1968. There she earned a Master of Political Science and met her husband, Ashraf Ghani, who in 2014 was elected president of Afghanistan. By his side, calm and determined, she is now leading her own revolution: inventing an important role for the first lady that had no precedent in the country. While the president’s wife formerly remained in the shadows, the Rula Ghani-style first lady is a public figure with a staff to support her and meeting rooms where she receives streams of people from throughout the country. Ghani is “a model of emancipation” for all Afghan women, one of those “free spirits” that would have made Sciences Po founder Emile Boutmy proud.
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Watch the lecture on our livestream channel
- Léa Moukanas ©Félicia Sisco/Aïda
When Léa Moukanas found she had been admitted to the London School of Economics and to Sciences Po, she chose to remain in France so she could continue her non-profit work here. We talked to Léa, the youngest president of a charitable organisation in Europe, about her commitment. This interview is the fourth in our 2017 #FirstYearsScPo series.
Léa Moukanas, you chose to stay in France because of your volunteer work. Can you tell us more about it?
I’m the president of a non-profit organisation. Two and a half years ago, my grandmother died of leukemia and I founded a cancer charity that bears her name: Aïda. Its goal is threefold: to support children and teenagers with cancer along with their families, with visits at home and in hospitals; to fund research on child cancer; and to educate young people about the disease. We are currently working with 200 children. That’s why I preferred to stay in France. I think that when you take on responsibilities, you have to see them through. There are children’s lives at stake; we owe it to them to be loyal in our support.
You founded your own charitable organisation at age 15?
Yes. To start with I got my classmates on board and later my cohort. At first when we went to hospitals it could be difficult; more than once we were told we were a bit young! But today we have nearly 300 volunteers in 30 high schools in France. One of the features of this charity is that it promotes young people’s involvement and the fact that they’re taking responsibility. In two years, Aida has raised more than 200,000 euros. And my little brother, who is in charge of the sports section, is responsible for a third of this sum. He’s only 15. But this doesn’t mean we refuse to let adults join us! Our accountant is my old maths teacher from high school.
What will Sciences Po bring to your work to fight cancer?
Sciences Po can be a good way to continue doing what I do, but making it all more professional. In particular, there is a science and humanities course taught by Daniel Benamouzig that I can’t wait to take! It’s about the history of public health and of medicine, and I’m very interested in health economics. I realize that you can always do better in healthcare: treat more people and treat them better, with a better quality of life during treatment and with fewer after-effects.
After my Bachelor’s, I’m thinking of doing the Master of Public Affairs at the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs. But I’m keeping in mind something I heard in the first few days of the semester: we were advised “not to know what we want to do”. I found that strange, but just three weeks since the semester started, I can see that I’ve already changed a lot in my thinking. When I started my courses, my overriding goal was the non-profit, and now I’m thinking I could have another job while I run it. And why not go on to a doctorate?
Find out more
- Find out more about undergraduate studies at Sciences Po
- “I’m uncomfortable with the notion of a monolithic ‘West’”: Meet Jasdeep Hundal, the first in our 2017 #FirstYearsScPo series
- “I hope one day we will see the positive outcome of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution”: Meet Malak Gadalla, the second in our 2017 #FirstYearsScPo series
- “Discussions teach you a lot more than textbooks possibly can”: Meet Uddeshya Nigam, the third in our 2017 #FirstYearsScPo series
- Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and keep up to date with monthly news from Sciences Po
- Lucinia Güttel is the first recipient of the Stephen M. Kellen scholarship
Licinia Güttel, 19, was born and raised near the small town of Koblenz, Germany. After graduating with honours from Werner Heisenberg Gymnasium Neuwied, she enrolled to study for the Sciences Po-Freie Universität Berlin dual Bachelor’s degree in political and social sciences. She is also the first recipient of the Stephen M. Kellen scholarship, a dedicated scholarship for students on the Sciences Po-Freie Universität Berlin dual BA programme.
Licinia has just started studying on the Sciences Po campus in Nancy, and will spend years 3 and 4 of the programme at Freie Universität Berlin's Otto-Suhr-Institut für Politikwissenschaft. In the video she shares her reasons for choosing Sciences Po, her first impressions of the programme and her plans for the future.
Find out more
- About the Stephen M Kellen scholarship
- About the Sciences Po-Freie Universität Berlin Bachelor’s degree programme
- About the nine dual Bachelor’s degree programmes offered at Sciences Po
- Sciences Po offers a wide range of financial aid for students from all backgrounds and nationalities, and 30 percent of the student body holds a scholarship. Each year, more than 200 top students from outside the European Economic Area benefit from scholarships. Find out more about financial aid for international students at Sciences Po
- Students at Sciences Po
In 2010, Sciences Po created PRESAGE, a gender studies and research programme. This trailblazing initiative now forms part of a comprehensive gender equality action plan. The pioneering nature of this commitment was recognised by the UN Women HeForShe programme, which named Sciences Po President Frédéric Mion as one of 10 university IMPACT champions for gender equality worldwide. Following the recent release of the Second HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 University Parity Report, we look at the 10 measures Sciences Po has been testing to bring about positive change in mentalities and practices.
Raising students’ awareness
1 - We are training student associations and promoting parity at governance level. The Student Life Charter (pdf, 438 Kb) now refers to the principles of gender equality.
2 - We conduct regular awareness-raising activities on everyday sexism: free-expression walls, forum theatre on sexual harassment, etc. Two initiatives were held in 2016 to propose measures to combat sexual violence in higher education.
3 - At the start of the 2017 academic year, 10 recommendations (pdf, 139 Kb) were sent out to all faculty to ensure equality in the classroom.
Tools and guides to foster a culture of equality
4 - A sexual harassment monitoring unit was set up in 2015 to raise awareness throughout the Sciences Po community about sexist acts and sexual violence, with the help of this guide (pdf, 89 Kb).
5 - A Non-Sexist Communication Charter has been in application since 2016, and staff are asked to follow a Guide to Inclusive Writing
6 - A network of gender equality advisors is active in each of Sciences Po’s divisions.
Appropriate hiring practices
7 - Women students can participate in training workshops (fr) on core career skills: assertiveness, wage negotiation, work-life balance and public speaking.
8 - The 13-member Sciences Po Executive Committee now includes five women – soon to be six.
9 - Selection committees for the recruitment of permanent faculty must be gender-balanced. We have made all academic coordinators aware of the 40% gender balance target when hiring temporary teaching staff.
10 - A charter to restrict work-related email after-hours is in place to promote a better work-life balance, and a campaign has been conducted to encourage men to take their paternity leave
Sciences Po charts its progress in the Second HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 University Parity Report released on 20 September. Marking three years of the HeForShe programme, UN Women held a report launch on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Sciences Po President Frédéric Mion was there. “Last year, HeForShe enabled the ten participating universities [including Sciences Po] to collect thirty solutions from the students themselves, which is a great source of satisfaction for us”, he said. “This collective effort helps us pursue the ambitious targets we have set ourselves.”