Interview with Alicia Mornington

Lead Professor, Pre-College Programme

Dr. Alicia-Dorothy Mornington is  a  senior  lecturer  at Sciences Po and at Paris 1 – Panthéon  Sorbonne University.  She  has a PhD from Sciences Po and  the  French  agregation  teaching  qualification  in  English.  She  has  held  various  visiting  research positions  as  Oxford  University,  the  LSE,  UCL,  the  University  of  York  and  Columbia University. Her research focuses mainly on political and legal theory, in particular liberal thought  and  the  question  of  paternalism.  She  is  very  much  interested  in  French  as  well as British politics.

1) How will the Pre-College Programme introduce students to the social sciences disciplines taught at Sciences Po?

The programme is a combination of master classes and introductory social sciences and methodology courses. Students will have the rare opportunity to attend master classes in key topics in the social sciences: peace-keeping, European integration, sustainable development and migration. Throughout the course we shall discuss and debate the main themes and issues addressed in the master classes, and go into greater depth with complementary readings. The aim is to foster a strong understanding of these issues and to enable fruitful group discussions. We will use the themes of the master classes as a basis for critical thinking by examining different approaches to the issues presented.

2) How will the classes engage with contemporary issues?

The class will absolutely engage with contemporary issues, as you can see from the master classes, which address some of the most pressing issues of our time.  Additionally, students will analyze the question of objectivity in reporting and fake news. For example, students will be asked to compare and evaluate anonymous news articles to identify biases. We will then discuss current events and how they are reported to consider the criteria for objectivity. This will help students understand current challenges in news reporting, as well as clarifying essay writing methodology.

3) What type of exposure and preparation will the Pre-College Programme give students for doing university-level work?

The programme seeks to provide essential methodological skills for university-level studies, but it also goes beyond this goal by fostering critical thinking, which is an essential life skill. Critical thinking asks: what makes an argument valid? How do you effectively present an argument?  Students will also learn useful tips on how to present in public, how to write a good essay, and, in particular, how to make sure your introduction makes a strong impression. The programme will reinforce students’ methodological background, which I believe to be one of the most important factors of academic success. The ultimate goal is to produce critical and creative thinkers.

4) What are you most looking forward to about this summer?

I can’t wait to meet the students, of course. I’m looking forward to fruitful intellectual discussions, perhaps about French politics, and to introducing them to Sciences Po… All with the gorgeous setting of the stunning Reims campus in summer time.

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