Diving in the Digital Public Space: Joint Course Between CEU and Sciences Po

Every year, master's students have the opportunity to attend joint courses with students and teachers from another partner university of CIVICA, an alliance of ten European social science universities.

One of the joint courses that took place during the 2022-23 academic year was titled “Diving in the Digital Public Space” offered to the master's students at CEU and at Sciences Po's School of Public Affairs. The course was co-hosted by Jean-Philippe Cointet, a Sciences Po Professor and Researcher at the medialab, his Teaching Assistant Armin Pournaki, and Marton Karsai, a Central European University Professor.

Three Sciences Po students – Marcelina Przespolewska, Toshali Sengupta and Coline Chavane – produced a quality work on the 2020 Democratic Primaries and the Media in the United States. Sciences Po met them to discuss their experience as European students in the field of social sciences.

Who are you? Can you tell us a little about yourselves?

MARCELINA: I’m a first-year master's student specialising in Digital, New Technology, and Public Policy at the School of Public Affairs. I completed my undergraduate degree at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where I studied Government and Applied Statistics. I’ve previously worked or volunteered with various political organisations or public affairs companies. Currently, I’m collaborating with a Boston-based non-profit providing data science solutions to political causes and a New York-based law firm specialising in, among others, election law matters. I’m also working on my individual research project at Sciences Po, focused on predicting the United States election outcomes with social media data.

TOSHALI: I am a second-year master’s student at the School of Public Affairs studying Digital, New Technology, and Public Policy. I did my undergraduate studies at Sciences Po on the Menton campus, specialising in Middle Eastern Politics and History. I also work as an apprentice at Tremau, a tech start-up working in Trust & Safety. 

COLINE: I am a second-year master's student in apprenticeship, like Toshali. I am in the School of Public Affairs, specialising in Security and Defense, and I also work for Thales in cybersecurity. I did my bachelor’s at Sciences Po on the Paris campus. I plan to continue working on issues at stake in cyberspace, which is why I took this class.

How was your experience following the CIVICA joint course "Diving in the Digital Public Space" between Sciences Po and CEU?

ALL: The course was particularly stimulating thanks to its original format and a mixed group of students with varying concentrations, as we had a chance to learn from both the CEU teacher, Marton, and the CEU students, who had a more technical background.

We also really appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the application of data science tools and methods, such as text analysis or social network analysis, within a political context, and to later conduct research on a topic of our own choosing. In our project, we focused on gender bias in the media during the 2020 Democratic primaries in the U.S., exploring differences in the treatment of presidential candidates between the legacy media, such as The New York Times, and the new media, such as Twitter.

Do you feel CIVICA is a plus for students? Do you encourage future students to enroll in the joint courses?

ALL: Absolutely. It’s interesting to work with people across different colleges and universities, as well as with varying levels of skill, and to benefit from the expertise of yet another teacher.

At the same time, it’s a really great course for students hoping to learn more about computational social science and gain more practical experience with coding in a political or social context.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Sciences Po website.

This initiative is organised in the framework of CIVICA – The European University of Social Sciences. CIVICA brings together ten leading European higher education institutions in the social sciences to mobilise and share knowledge as a public good and to facilitate civic responsibility in Europe and beyond. CIVICA was selected by the European Commission as one of the pilot European Universities in 2019 and confirmed as successful alliance in 2022 for its full roll-out. Read more on civica.eu.