News

The Annual Benefit Dinner is on June 14th in New York!
2023-02-03

On June 14, 2023, the Sciences Po American Foundation will honor Charles Rivkin at our Annual Benefit dinner in New York.

We look forward to recognizing Rivkins' exceptional contributions to the transatlantic partnership with the Stanley Hoffmann Award. His track record – both as a diplomat and as a cultural and corporate leader – speaks for itself: he is ideally situated to share insight into the importance of the US-France relationship and of cultural diplomacy within it.

The Gala supports our mission to heighten the awareness of Sciences Po in the United States and bring its spectacular reputation as a vital voice and convener of political thought in Europe. We support students from the United States studying at Sciences Po and encourage Sciences Po researchers to engage in transatlantic dialogue and collaboration with peers in any U.S. university. Our ambition is to amplify Sciences Po transatlantic collaboration.

The Bruno Latour Research Fund
2023-02-01

In honor of Bruno Latour and his legacy, Sciences Po launched the Bruno Latour Fund, dedicated to research in environment and politics.

A priority for Sciences Po, the creation of the Bruno Latour Fund is a sign of the rise of research at Sciences Po on environmental transformation topics, complementary of the steps already taken on climate issues (the interdisciplinary workshop on environmental research (AIRE), the work of the European Chair for Sustainable Development and Climate Transition, the transformation of Sciences Po masters programs, and the new mandatory 24 hours course for first year students).

Initial sponsors allowed Sciences Po to raise almost 2 millions euros and to recruit in 2023 and for three years 10 post-doc researchers willing to work on the way the environmental crisis is reshaping the economic, social, legal and political order, and to engage themselves in our academic life by teaching about their research field.

Pierre Charbonnier, co-director of the fund, philosopher and researcher for the CNRS at Sciences Po's Centre for European Studies and Comparative Politics believes that Bruno Latour's expectations should be met through shaping a high-level multidisciplinary research programme and fostering knowledge. 

The Sciences Po Transatlantic Research Fund
2023-01-01

The Sciences Po American Foundation is thrilled to launch the Sciences Po Transatlantic Research Fund (Sciences Po TRF).

The Sciences Po TRF aims to encourage Sciences Po researchers to engage in transatlantic dialogue and collaboration with peers in any U.S. university.  Our ambition is to amplify Sciences Po transatlantic collaboration through research.

The Sciences Po TRF is open to full-time professors of any disciplines at Sciences Po.

The Sciences Po American Foundation will fund projects up to $15,000 for travel, materials, technological support, and other expenses related to the design and implementation of the project. 

We accept applications in all subject areas. However, applications in the following priority areas are particularly encouraged:

  • Role of digital technology in our societies, including digital Humanities
  • Climate change and sustainable development
  • Global politics and International Relations
  • Democracy and Human Rights
  • Discriminations, inequality and social justice

Special consideration will be given to projects that aim to promote sustainable relationships between Sciences Po and the chosen U.S. university.

Each project should have a maximum duration of 18 months.

The 2022 Call for Proposals is open until November 15, 2022.

Rethinking Nuclear Choices
2022-07-19

On Tuesday, July 19th the Sciences Po American Foundation invited Professor Benoît Pelopidas to engage in conversation with Anne Scattolin, ED of the Foundation, in a European Affairs Webinar series titled: “Rethinking Nuclear Choices. A conversation with Benoit Pelopidas.”  Professor Pelopidas is the Founding Director of the Nuclear Knowledges Program at Sciences Po, where he used to hold the Chair in Excellence in Security Studies. The professor brought his depth of expertise to the discussion, sharing insights from his most recent book Repenser les choix nucléaires: La séduction de l'impossible, which will soon be published in English. This discussion was followed by a Q&A with Dr. Emmanuel Kattan, Director of the Alliance Program between Columbia University, École Polytechnique, SciencesPo, and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. 

The discussion began with an introduction to the Nuclear Knowledges Program in which Professor Pelopidas highlighted two distinctive features. First, the program categorically refuses any stakeholder funding so as to avoid conflicts of interest in the production of knowledge. Second, the program creates interdisciplinary methodologies to produce knowledge where there is a gap between existing knowledge and available evidence. Responding to the first question regarding Iran and a potential new wave of nuclear proliferation, Pelopidas brought attention to a gap between discourse around proliferation and the available evidence, pointing out “Regardless of the criteria we use to assess proliferation, contrary to what experts have said, the post-cold war period is an unprecedentedly low moment of proliferation.” 

Nuclear weapon programs in the world 1945-2021

The desire for proliferation, he continued, is far from universal, and indeed renunciation is more frequent than maintained proliferations at three levels: (1) among all states at least 143 have never had any nuclear weapons activities, (2) among states with nuclear weapons activities 30 out of 40 have discontinued such activities, and (3) among host states 15 have ceased hosting and did not acquire any nuclear weapons. He added that no nuclear-weapon state today has reached that status without the help of at least one permanent member of the UN Security Council and that none of them has a perfect non-proliferation track-record. Desire for nuclear weapons is therefore fueled and facilitated by the diffusion of a discourse valuing this technology and the sharing of the technology itself. Although we often think of proliferation as the spread of nuclear weapons to new actors, we ignore the idea of vertical proliferations, the increase of existing stockpiles or the extension of lifespan for such weapons. He summed up that a new wave of proliferation would depend on whether nuclear weapons possessors continue helping to spread them as well as the lessons drawn from the war in Ukraine about the desirability of nuclear weapons. 

The discussion shifted to Ukraine and the remaining possibility of the Russian Federation using nuclear weapons, “It is a reminder,” Pelopidas says, “that we still live in a world of nuclear vulnerability and that there is no protection against nuclear strikes either deliberate or accidental.” On confidence in the fact that we have so far avoided unwanted nuclear explosions, the professor underlined that the key is to be able to distinguish cases where avoidance of accidental detonation was due to control practices from those in which control practices were not sufficient to avoid this unwanted outcome. Sharing findings from his own work Pelopidas revealed, “It is now possible to assess the role of luck in the absence of unwanted nuclear explosions so far, and once you craft an adequate methodology to do so you find that luck was necessary in key episodes of the nuclear age.” Considering the level of opacity regarding ‘close calls’ in nuclear weapons holding states and the long timeline in declassifying such information, he continued that this estimation of the role of luck is likely underestimated. 

The conversation then turned to the common claim in France that there exists a consensus of citizens support for nuclear weapons policies. The Nuclear Knowledges Program, interested in these questions concerning a gap in the dominant discourse and the available evidence, found when investigating the evidence cited for this claim, a poorly designed survey that produced results with a validity problem. The survey incorporated the normative and value judgments underpinning French nuclear policy in the question as if they were unquestionable truths, therefore priming respondents to express support for those policies. From conducting their own surveys, they found a low level of support for nuclear policies, with the only attitude that received a majority of support being one of disempowerment and disengagement. Pelopidas summed up, “The key finding is even though the message is we have produced consensus and we’ve produced support, no, what we’ve produced is a citizenry that has accepted the fact that it is entirely powerless on these issues. If there is a consensus it would be on the level of political parties, but certainly not of public opinion.” 

The discussion returned to Russia, addressing the widespread claim that if Ukraine had retained nuclear weapons, it would not have been invaded by Russia. Professor Pelopidas considers this a “fantasy counterfactual,” concurring with his colleague Maria Rublee. This is for two reasons, first it ignores all consequences of Ukraine keeping its arsenal up until the Russian invasion and overlooks the fact that there was little desire for such an outcome in Ukraine at the time while the members of the P5 would not have let Ukraine keep over 4000 nuclear weapons.

Next the discussion turned to the heart of Professor Pelopidas’ most recent book, a new framework to think about nuclear weapons policy options centered around vulnerability. He highlights three contributions achieved by reframing in terms of vulnerability, first a rectification of mischaracterizing the desire for weapons and drivers of proliferations, second an ability to account for a wider range of past, present and future dangers, avoiding illusions of security and control and third a more consistently justified set of choices for nuclear weapons policy. As the discussion expanded to the broader question of what the future may look like for nuclear weapons policies, Professor Pelopidas responded there is a need for consistent justifications of existing policies. He insists that the book shows that four key arguments supporting the idea that there is no alternative to existing policies are incomplete or incorrect. He adds that in order to make choices with clarity about the long-term future of nuclear weapons policy planning, we need to lay out possible futures without assuming that future threats will be the ones that can be deterred by our existing arsenals. The key goal is to be able to have clearly justified alternative answers to the question: which weapons systems for which defense policy for the next seventy years. This is what he calls “desacralizing without conventionalizing nuclear weapons.” Independent research is crucial to clarify those bets without falling for illusions of perfect control, presentism or transparency of the future. 

In the Q&A that followed Kattan returned to the idea of control practices, inquiring whether there ought to be regulated and enforced universal control practices. In his response Pelopidas underscored the lack of transparency and knowledge that is available about control practices. “Our knowledge of the answer is uneven from one case to the other, and as we try to improve that knowledge, what we will get from the institutions in charge of insuring the safety and security of  the weapons, we will be a reassuring narrative. I have found evidence of such reassurance in the face of close calls or accidents in French and US archives; we need to keep that in mind,” he warned. Next Kattan asked about the extent of the threat of a terrorist group acquiring nuclear material and creating a “dirty” bomb. Pelopidas first acknowledged that this is not an area of scholarship he has worked on. He further noted that if the threat is defined as the explosion of a nuclear device and not only as its acquisition, then the existing scholarship suggests that the success of such an endeavor requires that the perpetrators succeed at a series of steps. Failing at one of the steps would be enough to make the explosion impossible. 

To conclude the Q&A Kattan inquired over whether the public are sufficiently informed about nuclear weapons and aware of the risks that exist. Responding in the negative, Pelopidas emphasized that a lack of knowledge and awareness should not be blamed on the public themselves but viewed as a symptom of the scarcity of nonpartisan knowledge and limits of nuclear education.

Expanding his remarks to include those well informed about nuclear weapons, Pelopidas highlighted the problem of epistemic vulnerability as a temptation to overlook the gap between what we think we know and the evidence we can provide. After two years of interviews with elite policymakers, military personnel and activists, he has concluded that even for them it is hard to believe in what they know: these weapons can actually go off. To combat this epistemic vulnerability, Pelopidas offered ways and criteria to distinguish between independent research and advocacy (Is there a conflict of interest in the funding of the expert? Are categories and judgments of actors naturalized as if they were neutral?) He then turned to fiction and aesthetic gestures which put us viewers in a world where it becomes believable that we live in a world in which nuclear weapons can go off. This was an effective tool throughout the cold war, however in the interim the existential dangers referred to have become climate disaster or a virus. “There is research and education work to be done,” concluded Pelopidas, “there is also work to be done on the imagination to allow us to possess an imagination that matches our condition of nuclear vulnerability.” 

To find out more about the Nuclear Knowledges Program:

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Tribute to Michel David-Weill
2022-06-24

Michel David-Weill, a renowned banker and businessman, a passionate collector, and a generous patron of the arts, passed away in New York on June 16th, at the age of 89.

At once a Frenchman and a New Yorker, Weill was dedicated to strengthening the French-American relationship through business and philanthropy alike, as the many recent testimonials have shown.

Himself an alumnus of Sciences Po, David-Weill created a scholarship at the university that embodies his legacy of dedication to transatlantic exchange and partnership, using education to build bridges between the US and France. The Michel David Weill scholarship was endowed in 2011 to attract the best and brightest American students to continue their postgraduate education at Sciences Po in Paris. The Scholarship is awarded each year to one American student who exemplifies the core values embodied by its name-sake: excellence, leadership, multiculturalism, and high achievement. In addition to their academic qualifications, awardees demonstrate strong character, instincts to lead, and commitment to both local and global community.

The influence of this initiative is best articulated by the twelve scholars who have been its recipients to date. Riya Verma (2020 recipient), reflected on the opportunity to attend Sciences Po, “Through the David-Weill scholarship, I was able to fully immerse myself in French student life and make a lasting connection to the country […] Without Michel David Weill's support, my interest in France would have remained an interest - and not have blossomed into a connection to the country that I now consider a second home.” It was not only the incredible opportunity for study and cultural exchange that recipients noted, but also the incredible openness and generosity that Michel David-Weill shared with them, offering observations and advice both personal and professional in nature that marked the impact of the scholarship. “His observations could span literature, politics, the markets, religion, and countless other subjects,” recalled  Zachary Young (2017 recipient) who continued, David-Weill was “motivated by his desire to give, to trust others, and to deflect praise in spite of so many honors and accolades.”

Sam Miles, graduate of Sciences Po’s Masters degree in International Energy and inaugural recipient of the Michel David-Weill Scholarship reflected on the impact of the scholarship, “I know that with each passing year, and with each newly-minted MDW scholar, another seed is planted for a stronger US-French alliance — and thus American-European cooperation — to confront the many challenges we face on the climatic, humanitarian, and economic fronts.” The Michel David-Weill Scholarship, thanks to its endowment, will continue to connect the brightest American minds with Sciences Po, as part of an enduring legacy that will benefit not only future scholars, but the world they will go on to shape, ensuring a continued commitment to Michel David-Weill’s lifelong work strengthening transatlantic relations. 

Emily de la Bruyère (2016 recipient) eloquently stated, “Michel David Weill gave every one of us an invaluable gift. We will spend the rest of our careers working to make good on his legacy.” Indeed, we all continue to be in the debt of Michel’s brilliance and generosity. The Sciences Po American Foundation is proud to have the responsibility to continue the Michel David-Weill scholarship program, and honored to be a part of his enduring legacy.

The Sciences Po American Foundation extends its deepest sympathies to his wife, Hélène David-Weill; to his daughters, Béatrice Stern, Natalie Merveilleux du Vignaux, Cécile David-Weill, and Agathe Mordacq; and to his family and friends.

Jamieson Greer, an expert in international trade and a leading force in defining critically needed new frameworks and tools
2022-06-13

On June 13, at the French Embassy in Washington D.C., Jamieson Greer ('07) was awarded the 2022 US Sciences Po Alumni Award.  This annual celebration is an opportunity to recognize and honor outstanding individuals, who embody the values that Sciences Po and our community strive to uphold.

Jamieson is a partner in the International Trade team at King & Spalding, where he specializes in – and is, well, as good as it gets -- in trade policy and negotiations, trade agreement enforcement, export and import compliance, and CFIUS matters. Jamieson has represented clients in trade remedy litigation before the Department of Commerce, the International Trade Commission and federal courts.

Before joining King & Spalding, Jamieson served as the Chief of Staff to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. At USTR, worked closely with Ambassador Lighthizer and senior White House officials on developing and implementing trade policy he played a critical role in developing and implementing the White House’s trade strategy – one that included landmark achievements like the Phase One trade deal with China and the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement.

Prior to working at USTR, Jamieson spent several years in private practice focusing on trade-related matters, and also served in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

Jamieson perfectly embodies Sciences Po’s mission, and definition of excellence: analytically and intellectually, he marries rigor with creativity; an unmatched expertise in the international trade system as it currently exists with a nuanced understanding of the challenges facing it – and how those can be addressed. Jamieson also works, actively, to face those down; to put his expertise to concrete use in advancing a better alternative. Take, for example, Jamieson’s role in the White House’s negotiations on the Phase One trade deal with China – a landmark for US and international approaches to trade relations among major powers.

Sciences Po’s mission is to train the leader and practitioner – and to equip them not only with analytical rigor but also the ability to bridge frameworks, whether intellectual or cultural. I cannot think of anyone who embodies that ideal better than Jamieson. And throughout, Jamieson is unfailingly generous, humble, and kind: professionally, intellectually.

More:


When Trade is a Weapon of War?
2022-04-04

On March 29, 2022, the Sciences Po American Foundation held the European Affairs Webinar: When Trade is a Weapon of War? Philippe Martin, dean of Sciences Po School of Public Affairs and Chairman of the French Council of Economic Analysis was joined by Jamieson Greer, partner in the International Trade team at King & Spalding, and Sonia Dridi, journalist and French Correspondent in the U.S., to discuss trade in the context of war.

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. One of the immediate reactions of Western allies in support of Ukraine, including the United States and Europe, was to apply strong sanctions on the Russian Central Bank. Alongside this recent financial weaponization, the trade war has steeply escalated with China, begging once again the question, What is the role of trade in international conflict?

Dridi begins the conversation by asking how the Central Bank of Russia is handling these recent sanctions. Martin acknowledges that these sanctions are the “nuclear option of sanctions”, and an unprecedented and unexpected shock to the Russian economy. He clarifies that the core objective of such sanctions is to increase the economic cost of war and disincentivize Russia’s invasion. Leading up to the war, Russia has accumulated $600 billion of reserves, about half of which reside in the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve. By freezing these reserves, the Western countries are quasi defaulting on a liability. On one hand, the sanctions present a challenge to the exchange rate of the ruble. Without a strong exchange rate Russia will experience inflation and a run on cash, leading to recession. On the other hand, the freeze is also a threat to the security of assets held in Europe and the United States. This threat has the potential to undermine the role of the dollar as the lapse in security represented by the freeze is felt by the international financial system. In the context of the trade war with China, this threat to the role of the dollar is a prominent challenge. Martin finishes his response to the question by remarking that while this freeze is in place, there is still money circulating to the Russian Central Bank as long as Europe continues to trade oil and gas.

Dridi shifts the conversation to Greer’s trade expert advice for American and European clients during these sanctions. Greer describes that for clients with monetary interests in Russia, these sanctions pose legal, business, and reputational risks. He highlights that there are no comprehensive sanctions on Russia at the moment, and it is important for clients to understand the nuances of the sanctions. While all companies comply with the sanctions, and some have left Russia entirely, not all have deserted the country. Concerns that arise for American and European companies in Russia are counter sanctions and nationalization of assets. “Western companies are trying to balance ‘I want to comply, I want to be on a good moral basis, but I also want to take care of my Russian employees who have been working for me for 25 years,” Greer says.

What is unique, however, is the unified approach Western countries have taken towards the financial punishment. “Democracies are weak against small shocks coming from dictatorships. But when democracy itself and freedom is at stake, we become much stronger than dictatorships expect,” says Martin.

Dridi asks whether China will potentially play a role in helping Russia evade the sanctions. “One of the conversations happening in the U.S. Congress right now with respect to Russia, which may have some application to China in the future, is this idea of removing permanent normal trade relations,” Greer says. He says that the unified action of the United States and Europe towards Russia gives hope that this avenue may be a future approach towards China if deemed necessary.

Dridi then brings up the risks of the sanctions on the European economy. The impact of the sanctions is much heavier in Europe than in the United States because of the trade of gas and oil. While there is a discussion around a potential embargo on oil, the economic shock of this embargo could mirror that of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because poor households spend more money on energy than richer households, this economic shock would also be felt unequally, necessitating large fiscal transfers. The concept of increasing energy prices as a challenge to Russia in a period when energy is at high costs poses a dilemma to political economy, especially in light of the upcoming French presidential election. “The paradox is that some countries, which economically would pay an enormous cost... are the ones that for obvious geopolitical reasons would support the embargo,” says Martin.

“At the end of the day, the Russian people are the ones who suffer from this. They’re the ones who are going to have less access to consumer goods,” says Greer. “They’re the ones who are going to lose their jobs. Unfortunately, because of Putin’s war of choice, you have the Russian people who are going to bear a lot of the grunt.”

Sciences Po’s scholarship and emergency fund
2022-03-27

Sciences Po is committed to fighting arbitrary violence and to upholding the European values of freedom and solidarity - values we must defend and promote in the face of the current international crisis. I am writing to you today to tell you about the actions we are taking and invite you to join us.  

Our first actions have obviously concerned our students. Our primary consideration has been to support some 60 of our students on a university exchange in Ukraine, Russia or one of the neighboring countries, all of whom have been urgently repatriated. We have also been assisting the 150 Russian and Ukrainian students currently studying on our campuses who are facing economic difficulties as a result of the crisis, and to whom we are providing exceptional financial support.

In addition, Sciences Po has decided to open its doors to Ukrainian and Russian students and researchers in exile. Our teams are now fully mobilized so that we can offer the greatest number of people a place to pursue their work in safety.

In order to carry out these actions with the speed and scope that this crisis requires, we need to strengthen our scholarship and emergency aid fund by at least €500,000. This will enable us to provide a one-year maintenance grant of between €10-15,000 to all displaced students who enroll, free of charge, in our programmes. Logistical and psychological assistance is already being offered to members of our student and research communities who are directly affected by the war.

You can play an important part by making a donation to Sciences Po’s scholarship and emergency aid fund

On behalf of our communities, and especially our students, I would like to express my deepest thanks for whatever help you can provide. Any and all support from you will be of the greatest help to us.

Mathias Vicherat, Sciences Po President

Sciences Po's response to the war in Ukraine
2022-03-16

Over the course of the last days, all eyes have been turned towards Ukraine and the war being waged on the orders of Vladimir Putin. Aggression on this scale, in direct violation of international law, and the unbridled disregard for the value of human life that have been witnessed over the past few days has left many feeling at a loss, unsure of how to process the events that are unfolding on the global stage.

Sciences Po is strongly committed to providing a scientific perspective and concrete intellectual frameworks with which to understand this current moment. As an international research university, Sciences Po pledges to research, teach, and study the major issues of this region.

Follow this link to find an evolving list of the Sciences Po events. 

Message from Mathias Vicherat, President of Sciences Po, on March 16, 2022

As the war waged by the Russian government against Ukraine continues, I wanted to keep you informed of the repercussions of the conflict on the higher education and research sector, and more specifically on Sciences Po's cooperation with universities in Russia.

The Russian Union of Rectors, which has more than 700 members, issued a statement on March 4th supporting President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine and calling for a solidarity movement of Russian university communities in support of the armed forces. More than 200 individual Rectors are signatories to this declaration, including those of Sciences Po's five partner universities.   

In this unprecedented context, and while we are deeply committed to the importance of international cooperation, Sciences Po has decided to suspend all of its university cooperation agreements, at least for the 2022-2023 academic year, and thereafter until further notice. This concerns the five student exchange agreements, as well as our dual degree agreement with MGIMO (Moscow State University of International Relations).

Team members of the International Affairs Division and the Academic Affairs Division are in close contact with those directly affected by this decision. Please note that students from Russian universities who are currently on exchange at Sciences Po will be able to continue their programme of study, if they so wish, and also that students of Russian nationality who are in degree seeking programmes at Sciences Po or have applied for admission are welcome.

Sciences Po is also actively involved in supporting communities impacted by the war. Arrangements are currently being made to rapidly welcome students and researchers forced to leave Ukraine to seek refuge outside the conflict zones. I will be sure to keep you informed of developments concerning our actions, and of the mobilisation of our different communities to this end.

Yours sincerely, 

Mathias Vicherat

Sciences Po Alumni USA March 2022
2022-03-16

The quaterly Alumni newsletter is out! We hope you enjoy catching up with our latest portraits of Sciences Po Alumni and look forward to having you join our upcoming events (in DC, in person on Sunday March 20th, for a #AlumniWebinar on 3/24 with Kati Marton, and for a new episode of the #EuropeanAffairsWebinar Series on 3/29: When trade is a weapon of war?)

In the context of the war in Ukraine, we are highlighting Sciences Po's ressources. As an international research university, Sciences Po pledges to research, teach, and study the major issues of this region. Follow this link to learn more about Sciences Po's events #ScPoUkraine. At this link, you can find the CERI (Sciences Po Center for International Relations) resources about the war in Ukraine.

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