[INTERVIEW] François Delattre, art of diplomacy and memories from almost 20 years posted in North America

We recently spoke [june 2019] with Francois Delattre, French ambassador to the UN and a Sciences Po alumnus. He provided his thoughts on the art of diplomacy and memories from almost 20 years posted in North America before he returns to Paris as secretary general of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Francois Delattre, France’s ambassador to the United Nations, tells guests they have two choices—ooh or ahh—just before he walks them into his 44th floor midtown office.

The reason becomes apparent when they enter the room. The Sciences Po alum’s place of work is wedged into the corner of a building overlooking the East River, and when he opens the door windows along two sides of the space flood the hall with light, revealing a panoramic view of Manhattan stretching east past the UN headquarters and the river and extending downtown. Even on an overcast day, the clouds hover amidst the tips of skyscrapers, and the Chrysler Building might yet remain visible.  

Delattre will have a new place of work this month, when he moves to Paris following his appointment as the secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That role is France’s highest ranking diplomatic position after president and foreign minister. 

His promotion caps off 20 years (16 years consecutively) spent working in France’s diplomatic corps at posts in North America. 

“I enjoyed every minute of my time in North America,” he said. Delattre’s diplomatic career on the continent kicked off with four years at the head of the press office at the French Embassy in Washington. After serving as consul general in New York then French ambassador to Canada, he was appointed ambassador to the United States in 2011 before being named ambassador to the United Nations in 2014. 

“The diplomatic service is a calling for me, a vocation,” he said. This vocation came to him at a young age, playing with a globe despite no family tradition of working in diplomacy. At 18 years old, set on becoming a diplomat, he went to Sciences Po, then ENA, the National School of Administration. 

Delattre calls himself a “great fan of Sciences Po” and believes that his academic training prepared him well for a career in diplomacy. The school’s real advantage, from his perspective, is its interdisciplinary approach. This is a critical skill today, especially at the UN Security Council, where people need to find original solutions to complex problems. As important as it has been for decades, he believes the ability to adapt to new challenges and connect different fields of knowledge is more important than ever in the context of our current geopolitical challenges.  

He leaves the United States with a “friendly, bipartisan appeal to all his American friends.” In a recent New York Times op-ed, he argued that in “a world that is growing more dangerous and less predictable by the day,” the engagement of the United States in world affairs and multilateral institutions is more important than ever. “America can’t make it alone, and the world can’t make it without America.” 

Delattre hopes that his time at the UN suggests the possibility of a better path. Many people believe that a diplomat’s job is merely to defend and promote the narrow interests of his country. But Delattre is emphatic that this is only the first part of the job. The diplomat’s role is increasingly one that requires coalition building to solve crises, promote human rights, and fight climate change—which he singled out as one of the most daunting challenges facing humanity. To that end, he established a regular dialogue with institutional investors which contributed to the launch of the Climate Action 100+ Initiative, mobilizing investors behind the Paris Climate Accord’s goal of promoting a path toward a low carbon economy. 

Economic integration through educational exchanges also contributes to sound diplomatic relations, according to Delattre, who supported the development of the Alliance program and the reinforcement of Sciences Po’s North American partnerships. He thinks that the internationalization of the school has only strengthened its competitive advantage. During his time as ambassador to Washington he made the development of university partnerships one of his top priorities, considering that this is one of the best ways to reinforce the relationship between France and the United States. 

That bond is embodied by the Statue of Liberty, which, Delattre wrote in the Times, “remains to this day the best ambassador of the American dream.”

For all that he can see from his office, that symbol of America’s promise stands too far to the south, obscured by the financial district. Construction on Second Avenue and helicopters carrying high-powered executives provide plenty to marvel at instead. 

“It’s New York. It’s never the same view, color,” Delattre said. 

[PORTRAIT] Max Bouchet: "working at Brookings sometimes feels like being back at Sciences Po"

Max Bouchet is a Washington D.C.-based alum who works for the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy program. We caught up with him to discuss his insights on urban development in the United States and across the world, and advice for current students. 

What is your background at Sciences Po? 

I joined Sciences Po as a first-year student in the “Asia Cycle.” It was still in Paris, just before the opening of the Havre Campus. I spent my third year of undergrad at Fudan University in Shanghai and graduated from Sciences Po’s Masters in Public Affairs program in 2011.

There were many turning points in Sciences Po’s history while we were there: René Rémond gave one of his last addresses to our class in 2006, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was still our Economics teacher, we saw the renovation of the “27” library (which was then an old three-floor building with wooden shelves covered with dusty political science reviews), and people could still smoke inside the cafeteria Rue de l’Université. Different times. 

Why did you chose to work in the United States?

After eight years of academic and professional life in Paris, I felt a strong urge for change and for different living and work environments. A combination of contacts and serendipity led me to get a position in economic development analysis in Atlanta, Georgia.

Atlanta was not an obvious first destination after Sciences Po, but in hindsight it was a great choice and a total cultural shock. Atlanta was already a booming tech, business, and cultural hub in the American South that was developing an identity of inclusion, resilience, and innovation based on its role in the Civil Rights movement. This was also two years before the 2016 elections. Long explorations and new friendships in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama gave me compelling insights on how rural areas, small towns, and left-behind communities were about to rock American politics.

Where do you work? 

In 2017 I moved to Washington D.C. to work at the Brookings Institution, a think tank where scholars conduct independent research on public policy challenges in international relations, economics, governance, development, and urban issues. It’s an exciting place that combines intense academic research (a lot of data analysis), innovation, great access to policy makers, and plenty of passionate people. I’m extremely lucky to work with a team of friendly, warm, and smart colleagues, many of who became friends. Great leadership at Brookings creates this environment of respect, inclusion, and camaraderie. 

What do you do at Brookings? 

My team works at the Metropolitan Policy program. At Brookings we are the city folks. Our mission is to make sense of some of the most pressing challenges urban areas face, such as slowing economic growth, technological disruptions, rising inequalities, housing and infrastructure needs, etc. We also help local leaders get the right tools to improve their communities. 

I currently focus on the economic competitiveness of city-regions. For instance, last month I presented our research on the local effects of the trade tariffs at the annual conference of the association of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, a very intense exchange with leaders from a U.S. community that will be a key narrative in 2020.

I get to meet and work with practitioners and decision-makers to test our research findings. Beyond theorical research, it’s crucial to keep checking that our recommendations are applicable in real-world conditions. I enjoy engaging with professionals and communities “in the field” and translate our research into actionable tools.

What are the difficulties of working in Washington? 

You can quickly get isolated in an established D.C think tank. We need to make sure we stay in tune with the realities of managing cities not just in the U.S. but also where the landscape of cities is growing the fastest, the Global South. 

Luckily, I got the opportunity to be part of a fellowship of the Robert Bosch Foundation called “Global Governance Futures”: for the past 18 months, I collaborated with 27 young professionals from various fields and countries (South Africa, Brazil, China, Indonesia, India, Japan, Germany, US, France). We met in cities like Delhi and Rio de Janeiro to conduct forecasts on the future trends that will affect the urban world.

What kind of advice do you have for current Sciences Po students and recent graduates?

Put yourself in other places and stay long enough to gain new perspectives. Seeing France from afar brings a lot of benefits: you develop more easily critical thinking about what seems natural or obvious. You acquire new lenses that enrich your understanding of policy.

The new things I learn every day help me shape my professional goals long term. In a way, working at Brookings sometimes feels like being back at Sciences Po: limitless opportunities to debate with colleagues, meeting great policy thinkers, honing on analytical skills, learning what drives policy, and building a life-long network. 

We need engineers who can both code and read the Economist. We need engineers obsessed with transforming society

The Sciences Po American Foundation awarded Maëlle Gavet its annual alumni award during a reception earlier in May. Gavet is a 2002 graduate of the Sciences Po master's program, and Chief Operating Officer of Compass, a real estate technology company building an end-to-end platform for agents and their clients. During her speech accepting the award, Gavet surveyed the challenges facing the tech industry, a field in which she has 15 years of professional experience. She argued that while technology has unquestionably improved almost every aspect of the way we live and work, it has had a host lethal side effects and unintended consequences impacting their own employees, communities, other businesses and, last but not least, democracy. Gavet’s suggested solution is to reimagine the way tech leaders are educated. In her opinion, while humanities will not magically fix everything that’s wrong with tech, it can certainly help introduce the much needed empathy and understanding of the world. "We need engineers who can both code and read the Economist. We need engineers obsessed with transforming society (not moving fast and breaking it)," she said. We followed up with Gavet after her speech for a quick interview about the themes that she addressed and tips for recent Sciences Po graduates. That conversation is below, edited for length and clarity.

You painted a bleak picture of where the tech industry is headed if they don’t hire people with a background in the social sciences and the humanities. How likely is it that tech executives get it right and steer us away from the path we’re on now?

This is a very difficult question; whether or not we figure it out, it will have an impact on what kind of society we live in. If I knew the answer, I’d probably have a very different job from the one I currently have. What I can say though, is that I think there is an increased awareness, and while my speech was very direct, this is not the first time I’m talking about it, and this is not the first time I’m hearing people discuss it. This subject has definitely been gaining more and more visibility compared to previous years.

The second thing I do start seeing is that because of these conversations more and more tech leaders are trying to take action. The problem is that they’re still a minority. It’s not a small group, but it’s still a minority. Another challenge is that there’s no playbook with clear guidelines on what to do. I’m generally pretty optimistic and I do believe that when human beings focus on solving a problem, they generally do get there. But this is a very, very big and completely new problem, which we have never faced before.

You’ve written before about regulating AI. What would that regulation look like ideally?

I think right now we’re trying to figure out how to regulate the humans who are working on AI the same way we tried, more or less successfully, to regulate genetic experiments. And I say more or less successfully because, in the Western world, we have, to an extent, limited what can and cannot be done and we have designed certain ethical standards around it. Based on what I have seen and read, I am not convinced the same ethical standards have been applied to genetic research in China, for example. The challenge with AI is how do we regulate something that is going to end up being more intelligent than us.

AI is the equivalent of a one year old who doesn’t know how to speak and barely knows how to walk. And we have researchers admitting they are not entirely clear how their AI baby came up with the result it did. Now imagine what happens when the baby grows up.  It will be a completely different situation. That’s why we need to make sure that people working on AI fully assume social responsibilities this discipline carries and embrace intellectual, geographic and social diversity while establishing industry standards. AI — in a very, very, very simplified way —  is nothing more than a set of equations and hypotheses that are formulated by humans. The more biased the human, the more bias is input into their code. So we need to advocate for creating forcing mechanisms for the diverse and multidisciplinary approach in AI, and in tech in general.

How has your education at Sciences Po prepared you for your career?

I think that Sciences Po is great at training students to analyze problems, find facts, historical data to support their point of view, and then to effectively communicate it. This is a universal skill that is crucially  important on top of everything else that I mentioned during my speech (firm foundation and a deeper understanding of society, historical processes, macro and microeconomics).

What kind of advice do you have for young grads and current students starting their careers?

You have to remember that you work with people and for people. When you make decisions, when you work on a project, when you run a company, when you’re an entrepreneur, when you work within a company, you will be more successful if you collaborate without ego and think about the human impact, the human stakeholders affected by the things that you’re trying to do.

The second advice: dream big. Our dreams can limit us. If you dream small, you’re going to do small. If you dream big, there’s a chance you’re going to do big. We have a tendency, especially coming from a school like Sciences Po (known for combining approaches and confronting different worldviews), to carry the weight of history on our shoulders, to think about all the reasons that something can or cannot happen. But at some point you risk not reaching your full potential. You can’t really impact the world if you don’t try to dream bigger than you ever thought was possible.

You should always combine these two things. Remember that you are, after all, a social being, and that you should try to work with other human beings and be part of this society. I guess another way to say it is that culture is very important. And by culture I mean the company culture which promotes inclusion, diversity and is empathetic. Don’t think that success is only related to IQ; it is at least 60 percent, if not more, related to EQ. 

Launch of the new Alumni community newsletter .

Every two months you will receive updates on the Sciences Po community in the United States. Expect to see brief descriptions of what your former classmates are up to, extended profiles of alumni, and notes on the latest research coming out of 27 rue Saint Guillaume.

The goal, above all else, is to bring the Sciences Po community in the United States closer and to foster more connections between the members of this network.

As we roll out this project we’ll need your help: send us suggestions for content and updates about what you’re up to at work. 

Follow this link to read the newsletter!

Sign up to join our mailing list and stay in touch!

#USA Online Fair: Sciences Po's first online internship and young graduate job fair for the United States

For the first time, Sciences Po is featuring job and internship opportunities in the United States with the #USA online career fair. Why the United States? Sciences Po has been steadily developing collaboration with North American partners since the early 1990s. Today, the United States and Canada are the destinations most commonly chosen by Sciences Po students for their study abroad. North American students form the second largest group of international students at Sciences Po, just after students from the European Union. Over 850 North American students study at Sciences Po each year.  The USA are also the third preferred destination for Sciences Po Young Graduates according to the Sciences Po Graduate Employability Survey report.

How does it work?

  1. Create an Employer account  [once created please allow a short delay for validation of the account]
  2. Should you already have an account, and/or once your Employer account is valid, access our job board and post your offer [should you not be willing to offer Visa Sponsorship, please indicate it clearly in your post!]
  3. Your offer(s) will be highlighted on Sciences Po Carrières for three months!

Learn More about Sciences Po 

  • Consult our guide for employers 'Recruit at Sciences Po’.  This guide provides the relevant information about our students, the careers we train them for and how to leverage this great pool of talent to meet your recruitment needs.
  • More info on recruiting Interns at undergraduate and graduate level
  • Contact Cyriel Pelletier [] should you have any question or need additional information on Sciences Po Carrières.
2019 laureate of the Michel David-Weill Scholarship

Jacob Kasel has been selected as the 2019 Michel David-Weill Scholarship laureate. 

Jacob obtained a Bachelor’s of Art from Emory University in 2018 with a double major in Spanish and Portuguese and Comparative Literature. While pursuing his undergraduate studies, he completed several graduate-level courses across disciplines including Law, Comparative Literature, and History. Outside of his coursework, he spent his time at Emory as an IDEAS Fellow, leading the development of interdisciplinary programming at the University, advising fellow students, and participating in research and teaching.

The Scholarship’s selection committee praised Jacob’s intellectual abilities and his analytical approach to tackling problems. Jacob intends to complete the Master in International Development at the Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences Po. He will bridge his interests in cultural theory, critical theory, and languages with the practice of international development. Through the program, Jacob will build on his theoretical strengths to develop practical strategies for approaching development in an international context. Previously, he has gained experience in the International Development realm at the Carter Foundation as a Global Access to Information Intern, and has been awarded multiple to conduct research in Brazil.

Jacob states "I am very excited to have the opportunity to immerse myself in the many academic, research and extracurricular opportunities at Sciences Po and in the larger Parisian context. I feel that this will provide me with many new modes of examining and approaching the issues and questions I am interested in, while finding and developing new ones simultaneously."

The Geneviève McMillan- Reba Stewart Foundation Scholarship

We are pleased to announce a major endowment gift of $1,000,000 on behalf of the McMillan-Stewart Foundation to the Sciences Po American Foundation. The donation will be dedicated to supporting students from Sub-Saharan Africa who are studying at Sciences Po.

Since 2010, the McMillan-Stewart foundation has partnered with Sciences Po to create pathways for exceptional students from the Sub-Saharan region to study in France.  To date, nine laureates have been awarded the Geneviève McMillan Scholarship, full-tuition grants to pursue a degree at Sciences Po. The foundation’s latest gift allows Sciences Po to renew scholarship program for many years to come.

The McMillan-Stewart Foundation’s gift emboldens the university’s commitment to the African continent. In 2011, Sciences Po established the Euro-African Program in the College Universitaire, which hosts more than 200 students per year studying the region and its relations with Europe and the world. Across programs, university has expanded scopes of focus to encompass the region, including through the “Africa” concentration in PSIA, the “African Cities” degree in the Urban School, and a dedicated Executive Education program. In the past 5 years, the number of students from the African continent studying at Sciences Po has increased by more than 50 percent. The McMillan-Stewart Foundation’s gift will allow university to continue to attract exceptional talent to study at Sciences Po.

The McMillan-Stewart Foundation was established by Geneviève McMillan, who studied at Sciences Po in 1946. Deeply committed to economic and social justice, Geneviève created her foundation in 2005, supporting numerous initiatives in education, the arts, and peace and justice. Since her death in 2008, the foundation has carried on her legacy by supporting students at Sciences Po and across the globe.

The McMillan-Stewart Foundation is based in Boston, United States. On November 12, Director of the McMillan-Stewart foundation and Geneviève’s niece, Catherine Gobet Lalanne, attended a soirée in Paris to celebrate the generous gift. Many past laureates were in attendance.

Support Sciences Po's ambitious scholarship program for US students #GivingTuesday

Sciences Po stands out for its multicultural nature. Almost half of the student body are international students and at the start of the 2017 academic year, 37 % of the students received financial aid.  Indeed, Sciences Po proactively supports social inclusion with a unique tuition fee and financial aid policy. 

French and European students with a CROUS scholarship, in addition to benefitting from a full tuition fee waiver, receive a considerable top-up grant from Sciences Po amounting to 75 percent of their CROUS scholarship.

To attract top students from around the world, Sciences Po has substantially reinforced its social aid policy for non- European students and awards more than 250 Emile Boutmy Scholarships for a total amount of over $2.2 million for non-European students.

We invite you to join us and celebrate diversity on this global day of giving by making a tax-deductible contribution. Your donation will support Sciences Po' commitment to diversity. 

  • Over $250,000/year dedicated to scholarships for US students
  • Top nationality outside the EU in receiving financial aid from Sciences Po
  • $9,000 average scholarship
Rosalyn Jeffries is enrolled on the Dual

Undergraduate College student Rosalyn Jeffries chose the dual degree between Sciences Po and the University of California, Berkeley to get the “best of both worlds”: a strong base in the social sciences with an international exposure and a precise geographic focus, enriched by a traditional American college experience.

Watch the interview

The spy who studied at Sciences Po

After graduating at the top of her class in July 1940, Jeannie de Clarens, née Rousseau, set out on an extraordinary career in the world of interpretation and espionage. At 23 years old, she was to hand Allied Forces one of the Second World War’s most precious pieces of intelligence. In memory of de Clarens, a true heroine of the French Resistance, Sciences Po now pays homage by giving her name to a lecture hall.

It can often be from the blandest of backgrounds that history begins to unfold. Yet few reading the report card of Sciences Po student Jeannie Rousseau today would fail to be moved. As brilliant as it is completely banal, this report produced in Autumn 1940 reminds its reader that “due to current events, you have not been able to sit the entirety of the exams necessary for the awarding of your degree”. In the neutral language of bureaucracy, no elaboration follows as to what these “events” might be. Nor that these pages, which did not ultimately prevent Jeannie from graduating first of her class in 1940, had as their subject one of the most distinguished female spies of the Second World War. A heroine at the centre of scenes like those immortalized in Jean-Pierre Melville’s iconic film Army of Shadows, Jeannie more recently caught the attention of journalists at the New York Times. The American newspaper published in August 2017 an obituary that pays homage to the spy’s “heroic and momentous achievements” on behalf of the French Resistance. French journalists have yet to produce an equivalent.

Follow this link for more!

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