Page semi-protected

Sciences Po

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from École des Sciences Politiques)
Jump to: navigation, search
Paris Institute of Political Studies
Institut d'études politiques de Paris
Logo Sciences Po.svg
Former names
École libre des sciences politiques
Type Grande école
Established 1872
Endowment €173 million
President Olivier Duhamel
Director Frédéric Mion
Academic staff
Students 13,000
Undergraduates 4000
Postgraduates 3900
Location Paris, Reims, Dijon, Le Havre, Nancy, Poitiers, Menton, France
Campus Urban
Nickname Sciences Po
Mascot The lion and the fox

Sciences Po (French pronunciation: ​[sjɑ̃s po]), or Paris Institute of Political Studies (French: Institut d'études politiques de Paris, French pronunciation: ​[ɛ̃s.ti.ty de.tyd pɔ.li.tik də pa.ʁi]) is a university (a Grande Ecole according to French standards) located in Paris, France. The institution is a member of several academic consortia (including the APSIA and the College Board).

Its main campus encircles Boulevard Saint Germain in the 7th arrondissement[1] but there are also regional campuses in Reims, Dijon, Le Havre, Nancy, Poitiers or Menton. Sciences Po maintains departments in political science, economics, history, sociology and law.

Sciences Po was created as a private institution by Émile Boutmy in 1872 to promote a new class of French politicians in the aftermath of the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1871.[2]

In the modern day, Sciences Po has a reputation in France of being an elite institution[3][4][5] and was ranked 4th globally in Politics and International Studies by the QS World University Subjects Rankings 2017.[6] Many notable public figures are among its alumni, including numerous French presidents. However, it is also criticized for creating an oligarchy of blinkered people in France.[7][8] Critics often nickname the school "Sciences Pipeau" (pronounced "Sciences Pipo") because they consider it is giving a "fake" education.[9][10] Sciences Po has been at the centre of a number of political and financial scandals.[11]


1872 to 1945: École Libre des Sciences Politiques

Sciences Po Founder, Émile Boutmy

Sciences Po was established in February 1872 as the École Libre des Sciences Politiques by a group of French intellectuals, politicians and businessmen led by Émile Boutmy, and including Hippolyte Taine, Ernest Renan, Albert Sorel and Paul Leroy Beaulieu. Following defeat in the 1870 war, the demise of Napoleon III, and the Paris Commune, these men sought to reform the training of French politicians. Politically and economically, people feared France's international stature was waning due to inadequate teaching of its political and diplomatic corps. ELSP was meant to serve as “the breeding ground where nearly all the major, non-technical state commissioners were trained.”[12]

New disciplines such as International Relations, International Law, Political Economy and Comparative Government were introduced. In August 1894, the British Association for the Advancement of Science spoke out for the need to advance the study of politics along the lines of ELSP. Sidney and Beatrice Webb used the purpose and curriculum of Sciences Po as part of their inspiration for creating the London School of Economics in 1895.[13]

1945 to 1997

As per ordinance 45-2284 issued on 9 October 1945, two entities were created from ELSP:[14]

  • Fondation nationale des sciences politiques (English: National Foundation of Political Science) or FNSP, and
  • Institut d'études politiques de Paris (English: Paris Institute of Political Studies) or IEP Paris.

Both entities were tasked by the French government to ensure “the progress and the diffusion, both within and outside France, of political science, economics, and sociology”.[12]

The epithet Sciences Po was applied to both entities, which inherited the reputation previously vested in ELSP.[15] France's Legislature entrusted FNSP with managing IEP Paris, its library, and budget, and an administrative council assured the development of these activities. The curriculum and methodology of the ELSP were also the template for creating an entire system of institutes of political studies (French: Institut d'études politiques) across France, namely in Strasbourg, Lyon, Aix, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Toulouse, and then in Rennes and Lille. They are not to be confounded with Sciences Po's satellite campuses.

FNSP further strengthened its role as a scientific publication center with significant donations from the Rockefeller Foundation. FNSP periodicals such as la Revue française de science politique, le Bulletin analytique de documentation, la Chronologie politique africaine, and the Cahiers de la Fondation as well as its seven research centres and main publishing house, Presses de Sciences Po, contribute to the reputation attained by Sciences Po research.[12]

The Richard Descoings Era (1997-2012)

Sciences Po underwent various reforms under the directorship of Richard Descoings (1997–2012). In these years, Sciences Po introduced a compulsory year abroad component to its undergraduate degree, and began to offer a multilingual curriculum in French, English, and other languages. It was during this period that Sciences Po added its regional campuses.

Sciences Po also implemented reforms in its admissions process. Previously, Sciences Po recruited its students exclusively on the basis of a competitive examination. This system was seen to favor students from prestigious preparatory high schools or those who could afford year-long preparatory courses. In March 2001, the school's governing council widened its admissions policy.[16] From September 2002, Sciences Po began accepting students from certain schools located in economically depressed suburbs on the basis of their school record and a 45-minute interview, rather than the name-blind examination all other students must pass to be admitted.


Sciences Po garden, between the rue Saint-Guillaume and the rue des Saints-Pères.

Sciences Po is located in Paris, in the 6th and 7th districts (arrondissements):

  • 27 rue Saint-Guillaume houses the head office since 1879. It is also home to Sciences Po's two largest teaching halls, the Amphitheatres Émile Boutmy and Jacques Chapsal.
  • 9, rue de la Chaise: administrative offices.
  • 56, rue des Saints-Pères: language classes, language lab, audiovisual service and a cartography workshop.
  • 117, boulevard Saint-Germain: School of Journalism
  • 174, boulevard Saint-Germain: offices and classrooms
  • 199, boulevard Saint-Germain: offices of Doctoral School.
  • 224, boulevard Saint-Germain: classrooms
  • 56, rue Jacob: Research Center for History (Centre d'histoire de Sciences Po) and International Relations (Centre d'études et de recherches internationales)
  • 13, rue de l'Université / The René Rémond building: administrative offices, classrooms and amphitheatre
  • 8, rue Jean-Sébastien-Bach: Urban Studies Graduate Program
  • rue d'Assas and rue de la Cassette at the Institut Catholique

Sciences Po also has five regional campuses. Each campus has a specific regional focus:

  • Dijon: Central and Eastern Europe
  • Le Havre: Asia
  • Menton: Middle-East and Mediterranean
  • Nancy: Europe & Franco-German Region
  • Poitiers: Latin America
  • Reims: North America

The Paris Campus offers a general social sciences programme. It is also home to a regional concentration on Africa.



Research at Sciences Po covers economics, law, history, sociology and political science, while also taking in many interdisciplinary topics such as cities, political ecology, sustainable development, socioeconomics and globalization.

Network of universities

Sciences Po is part of a network of 410 partner universities. Partner universities include: Berkeley (USA), Cambridge (England), Columbia (USA), Freie Universität Berlin (Germany), Fudan (China), Keio (Japan), London School of Economics (England), Tufts (USA), etc.

Sciences Po is a member of the Global Public Policy Network along with the London School of Economics, the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

Sciences Po is a member of the Sorbonne Paris Cité alliance.

Library and publishing

Sciences Po Library

Founded in 1871, the nucleus of the school’s research is Bibliothèque de Sciences Po. The library offers a collection of more than 950,000 titles in the field of social sciences.

In 1982, the National Ministry of Education made the Bibliothèque the Centre for Acquisition and Dissemination of Scientific and Technical Information in the field of political science, and since 1994, it has been the antenna associated with Bibliothèque Nationale de France.[17] Bibliothèque de Sciences Po is also the main French partner in the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, which is based at the London School of Economics.[18]

Founded in the 1950s, Presses de Sciences-Po is the publishing house of Sciences Po. It publishes academic works related to the social sciences.[19]

Rankings and reputation


For the year 2016 the QS World University Rankings, based on English speaking publications,[20] Sciences Po ranked globally 223 in the world (7th in France), 86 (4th in France) in social sciences and management, 149 (4th in France) in art and humanity, 4th (1st in France) for Politics and International studies, 50 in sociology (2nd in France) 51-100 (2nd in France) in Law, 51-100 (1st ex aequo in France) in Economics & Econometrics, 51-100 (2nd ex aequo in France) in History.[21] Its Master in Public Policy (MPP) with a concentration in Economics and Public Policy was ranked 6th of Western Europe (1st in France) by Eduniversal among masters in Economics.[22] The U.S. magazine Foreign Policy, for their 2015 rankings, ranked Sciences Po 21st in the world to obtain a master's degree for a policy career in International Relations.[23] In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2013/2014, Sciences Po ranked 98th in the world for Social Sciences.[24] In the 2013 Times Higher Education Alma Mater Index of Global Executives, a ranking of an academic institution's number of degrees awarded to chief executives of the world’s biggest companies, Sciences Po is ranked 81st.[25]

Reputation and criticism

Due to its prominent alumni, its selectivity and its history of providing candidates for admission to the École nationale d'administration, it is seen in France as an elite institution.[3][4][5]

However, it is criticised, as well as the École nationale d'administration, for creating in France an oligarchy of disconnected with reality,[8] '...blinkered, arrogant and frequently incompetent people.'[7]

Critics often give the school the nickname of "Sciences Pipeau" (pronounced and sometimes spelled "Sciences Pipo"), Sciences Po being accused of being a "fake" school, giving access to a professional network but with no proper intellectual education nor actual expertise given.[26][27][28][29][30][10][31][8] According to these critics, Sciences Po would be "only advertisement and artifice".[32]

The sociologist Nicolas Jounin, alumnus of Sciences Po, stated that the school is an "intellectual imposture", since it gives no actual education but only delivers degrees giving access to a network of unfairly privileged ruling class, and that it is a "financial hold-up".[33]

The prominent lawyer and academic Gilles Devers criticized "Sciences Pipeau", first, for draining public money to lecturers paid far more than university lecturers but for only 30% of their teaching duties, and sometimes no teaching would be done, second, to be the "base of the conservatism, and the mold of the molluscs that make the public elite" where "dissenting ideas are only admitted if they strengthen the system".[34]

Ariane Chemin stated in 2013 that, because most of journalists are coming from Sciences Po, the school has an undue good publicity.[35]

Sciences Po is also nicknamed "Sciences Pipo" by students.[36][37] A student-run online poll suggested that 23% of students had "seriously considered" quitting the school, considering the courses to be "too superficial" and "lacking of deep-analysis of topics", where a Sciences Po-run poll suggested that 93% of alumni would recommend the school.[26]

Political and financial scandals

During World War II (1939–45), the then-private institution demonstrated an ambiguous behaviour. Philippe Pétain, head of the Vichy Régime, had been honorary president of Sciences Po's board of directors before the war. In 1945, it was decided to semi-nationalize the École Libre des Sciences Politiques.[38]

Alain Lancelot, president of the Institut d'études politiques de Paris from 1987 to 1996, was sued and found guilty of financial mismanagement by the French Court of Audit.[39]

Since 1997, the institution has been hit by a number of scandals.[11][40]

Descoing, president from 1997 to 2012, had been criticized for offering large sums of money (through salary rise, free accommodation, etc.) to diverse members of staff, included his wife, in spite of the fact that Sciences Po in partly stately funded.[41]

Descoing was found dead in his luxury hostel in a Manhattan luxury hotel room, police thought the cause of death would be an overdose[42] linked to his controversial gay lifestyle,[43] the final coronary report concluded to natural death but his energy the day of the death and the missing phones and computer have raised suspicion.[44]

In February 2012, it has been found that an inspector of the French Court of Audit, in charge of investigating the financial behaviour of Sciences Po, was in the same time employed by Sciences Po.[45]

In October 2012, the French Court of Audit castigated the serious financial mismanagement in Sciences Po.[46][40] It strongly denounced the large use of public money for personal use of the staff, the tax evasions, the absence of doing of contractual work by most of the lecturers,[47] the infringement of financial regulation on public works contract, the absence of any control from the State, and even the rise of 33% of the public funding in the last 5 years.[48] Sciences Po has also been accused to prevail results over morals.[49] The French Court of Audit has appealed to the public attorney for bringing a lawsuit for some of these facts.[48] Hervé Crès the interim manager of Sciences Po (now head of the doctoral school of Sciences Po) has promised to change while preserving its identity[49]

In November 2012, Hervé Crès has been dismissed by the government, but he sought to president of Sciences Po anyway, saying that Alain Lancelot and Richard Descoings have been found guilty too, but it doesn’t matter for what concerns the presidency of Sciences Po.[39]

In July 2015, the public attorney sued Jean-Claude Casanova, the head of the institution which was supposed to supervise Sciences Po, for a trial before the Court of Financial and Budgetary Discipline.[50] Sciences Po, with Frédéric Mion as new director, tried to defend Casanova.[51] The Court of Financial and Budgetary Discipline eventually found Casanova guilty, but sentenced him with leniency because the procedures had some part of regularity and because it wasn’t customary in Sciences Po to follow all the financial rules.[52]

Notable people


Over 65,000 people have studied at Science Po, and alumni and former staff include twenty-eight heads of state or government, specifically the last four French presidents (François Hollande, Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy - although he didn't graduate - and François Mitterrand), thirteen past or present French prime ministers, twelve past or present foreign heads of state or government, a former United Nations Secretary-General, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, the former head of the European Central Bank and the former head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Former Portuguese Prime Minister, José Socrates was a doctoral student at this institution in 2012.[53]

Among the alumni are CEOs of France's forty largest companies (Frédéric Oudéa of banking group Societe Generale, Michel Bon of Carrefour, Jean-Cyril Spinetta of Air France, Serge Weinberg of PPR, Gérard Mestrallet of Suez, Philippe Camus of Alcatel-Lucent), private bankers such as David René de Rothschild, the CEO of Lazard Italy, the CFO of Morgan Stanley Europe, the Director of Credit Suisse World, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of TradingScreen and the Chairman of Credit Suisse Europe as well as the current head of the European Federation of Businesses, Industries and Employers and the current head of the French Businesses and Employers Union and many others. Influential cultural figures such as the writer Marcel Proust and the founder of the modern olympics Pierre de Coubertin also graduated from Sciences Po.


Instructors included or still include former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, former WTO president Pascal Lamy, current French President Francois Hollande, former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, former French foreign minister Hubert Védrine, Nobel Prize Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz and former Economics minister as well as former Managing Director of IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn.


  • 1987–96: Alain Lancelot
  • 1997–2012: Richard Descoings
  • 2012: Hervé Crès (interim)
  • 2012–13: Jean Gaeremynck (interim)
  • 2013–present: Frédéric Mion

References and notes


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Conley, Marjorie (September 9, 2003). "Sciences Po ― an elite institution's introspection on its power, position and worth in French society". Portfolio,The Journalism of Ideas. New York University. Retrieved August 10, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Koh, Aaron (2016). Elite Schools: Multiple Geographies of Privilege. New York; Oxon: Routledge. pp. 193,. ISBN 978-1--138-77940-2. 
  5. ^ a b Guttenplan, D.D. (May 4, 2001). "In France, a Bastion of Privilege No More". The New York Times. Retrieved August 10, 2016. 
  6. ^ "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017 - Politics & International Studies". Top Universities. 
  7. ^ a b Lichfield, John (May 17, 2013). "Liberte, inegalite, fraternite: Is French elitism holding the country back?". The Independent. Retrieved August 10, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c "Sciences Po, ENA : ces fabriques d'élites déconnectées". 29 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Sciences Po déçoit-il ses élèves de 1ere année ?
  10. ^ a b France Inter, L'école de l'élite : Sciences Pipo ?
  11. ^ a b "Dossier: Sciences-Po, la fuite en avant et les scandales - Mediapart". 
  12. ^ a b c “Sciences Po 1945–1979” Centre d’histoire de Sciences Po
  13. ^ "LSE: A History of the London School of Economics and Political Science, 1895–1995", Oxford University Press, 1 June 1995.
  14. ^ "Consolidation de L'autonomie de Sciences Po" Sénat, 1996.
  15. ^ "Le statut juridique de Sciences Po: la dualité FNSP et IEP de Paris" Centre d’histoire de Sciences Po
  16. ^ "Sciences Po ― an elite institution's introspection on its power, position and worth in French society" NYU Department of Journalism, 9 September 2003.
  17. ^ "Sciences Po Paris Overview: Introducing Sciences Po" Sciences Po Website, 2001.
  18. ^ "IBSS Boosts Coverage of French Social Science Journals", IBSS, 2005.
  19. ^ "Presses de Sciences Po", Sciences Po Website, 21 October 2004.
  20. ^ "Global university rankings and their impact,". "European University Association". Retrieved 3, September, 2012
  21. ^ "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016". Top Universities. 
  22. ^ "France Best Masters Ranking in Economics". 
  23. ^ "Foreign Policy - The Best International Relations Schools in the World". Foreign Policy. 
  24. ^ "Sciences Po World University Rankings". THE. 
  25. ^ "Alma Mater Index: Global Executives 2013". Times Higher Education. 
  26. ^ a b Le Monde, Sciences Po déçoit-il ses élèves de 1ere année ?
  27. ^ Sciences Po De La Courneuve à Shanghai, chapter 4
  28. ^ Jacquemelle, tout savoir sur
  29. ^ Sciences Po pour les Nuls, Chapter 18
  30. ^ Le Figaro étudiants, Mon avis sur Sciences Po : «On en sait un peu sur tout, mais on ne sera jamais expert»
  31. ^ Ils préparent Sciences Po, L’étudiant, Sciences po = sciences pipo ?
  32. ^ Huffington Post, Les comptes de Sciences Pipo
  33. ^ Nicolas Jounin, in Il est temps d'en finir avec Sciences Po !
  34. ^ Gilles Devers, Sciences-Pipeau : Plus rentable que de braquer une banque !
  35. ^ Ariane Chemin in France Inter, L'école de l'élite : Sciences Pipo ?
  36. ^ Fabre, L’art de pipoter, p. 8
  37. ^ Brunel,Manuel de guérilla à l'usage des femmes, p. 29.
  38. ^ Paris-Ouest), Alain Garrigou, professeur de science politique (université (9 October 2012). ""La dérive proconsulaire de Sciences Po", par Alain Garrigou" – via Le Monde. 
  39. ^ a b "Sciences Po : l'Etat repousse la nomination d'Hervé Crès". 
  40. ^ a b "La dérive financière de Sciences Po et la complaisance de l'État". 12 October 2012. 
  41. ^ "Les dirigeants de Sciences-Po touchent des superbonus". 
  42. ^ "Cops Believe French Scholar Accidentally Overdosed". 
  43. ^ CNN, By Jethro Mullen. "French educator found dead in New York was dynamic, controversial figure -". 
  44. ^ "Richard Descoings est mort". 30 May 2012 – via Le Monde. 
  45. ^ "Quand Sciences-Po salarie son contrôleur". 
  46. ^ Sciences Po Paris : la grande gabegie de l'ère Descoings
  47. ^ Floc'h, Benoît (8 July 2012). "La Cour des comptes fustige la gestion de Sciences Po" – via Le Monde. 
  48. ^ a b comptes, Cour des. "Sciences Po : une forte ambition, une gestion défaillante / Archives / Actualités / Accueil / Cour des Comptes - Cour des comptes". 
  49. ^ a b Document : la réponse de Sciences-Po à la Cour des comptes
  50. ^ "Scandale des salaires à Sciences Po : Jean-Claude Casanova renvoyé devant la Cour de discipline budgétaire". 24 July 2015 – via Le Monde. 
  51. ^ "Affaire Descoings : Sciences po fait bloc derrière Jean-Claude Casanova". 
  52. ^ Floc'h, Benoît (4 December 2015). "Jean-Claude Casanova condamné dans l'" affaire Sciences Po "" – via Le Monde. 
  53. ^ José Sócrates: 1 more year in Paris (Portuguese)


  • Richard Descoings, Sciences Po. De la Courneuve à Shanghai, préface de René Rémond, Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2007 (ISBN 2-7246-0990-5)
  • Jacques Chapsal, « L'Institut d'études politiques de l'Université de Paris », Annales de l'Université de Paris, n° 1, 1950
  • « Centenaire de l'Institut d'études politiques de Paris (1872–1972) », brochure de l'Institut d'études politiques de Paris, 1972
  • A Sciences-Po, les voyages forment la jeunesse, Monde Diplomatique, Février 2006
  • Pierre Favre, Cent dix années de cours à l'École libre des sciences politiques et à l'Institut d'études politiques de Paris (1871–1982), thèse de doctorat, 2 volumes, 1986
  • Gérard Vincent, Sciences Po. Histoire d'une réussite, Orban, Paris, 1987
  • Marie-Estelle Leroty, L'Enseignement de l'histoire à l'École libre des sciences politiques et à l'Institut d'études politiques de l'Université de Paris de 1943 à 1968, mémoire de diplôme d'études approfondies dirigé par Jean-François Sirinelli, Institut d'études politiques de Paris, 2000
  • Anne Muxel (direction), Les Étudiants de Sciences Po, Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, 2004, ISBN 2-7246-0937-9: Résultats d'une grande enquête menée en janvier 2002 auprès des élèves par le Cevipof
  • Comité national d'évaluation des établissements publics à caractère scientifique, culturel et professionnel, Rapport d'évaluation de l'Institut d'études politiques de Paris, Septembre 2005
  • Cyril Delhay, Promotion ZEP. Des quartiers à Sciences Po, Paris: Hachette, 2006, ISBN 2-01-235949-3

External links

Coordinates: 48°51′15.02″N 2°19′42.49″E / 48.8541722°N 2.3284694°E / 48.8541722; 2.3284694