A Second World War Baby

Sciences Po Strasbourg was a product of the Second World War. The creation of an IEP (Institut d’études politiques [Institute of Political Studies]) in Strasbourg was planned before the liberation of France at the end of the war was complete. The decision was taken in December 1944 by former member of the Resistance, René Capitant (1901-1970), who was then Minister of Education for the PGFR (Provisional Government of the French Republic). The establishment’s structure was put into place during 1945, and it was officially founded by Decree No. 45-2287 of 9 October 1945, jointly signed by René Capitant and Michel Debré, who later became Prime Minister of France. Around the same time, three other institutes of higher education were brought into being to educate the new post-war elites :

  • ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration [National School of Administration]),
  • FNSP (Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques [National Foundation of Political Science]), and
  • Paris IEP (Institut d’Études Politiques [Institute of Political Studies]), which was the nationalised successor to the ELSP (Ecole Libre de Sciences Politiques [Free School of Political Science]), founded in 1872.

The IEP of Strasbourg was therefore the first IEP to open outside of Paris. This choice of city was no doubt due to its close proximity to Germany. As part of its territory was to be administered by France after the Liberation, it was necessary to be able to train civil servants nearby. It also fitted well into the multi-disciplinary tradition of the University of Strasbourg, which was founded under the Kaiserreich and was directed between the wars by prestigious French academics, such as the jurist Raymond Carré de Malberg (1861-1935), and the Annales School, founded in 1929 by historians Marc Bloch (1886-1944) and Lucien Febvre (1878-1956). It was therefore appropriate to choose Strasbourg as the location for a multi-disciplinary institute, teaching Law, History and Economics.

Continuously enhanced range of courses

The Sciences Po Strasbourg curriculum is continuously developed to ensure it remains current and relevant and anticipates the needs of the future. From its inception until 2003, IEP Strasbourg’s courses were delivered over three years: one year of core studies, then two years of specialisation in three possible areas: Civil Service (SP, first Class graduated in 1948), Economics and Finance (EcoFi, first Class graduated in 1949) and International Relations (RI, first Class graduated in 1963). An option to take a fourth maîtrise year was added in 1990, then made mandatory in 1999 to allow students to go abroad if they wished to do so. Since 2005, IEP has adopted the Bologna Process of Licence-Master-Doctorat (Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate), which is therefore a five-year course. The first two years (1A and 2A) constitute the core curriculum, followed by a third year abroad (3A). Students then specialise and prepare for a career during the two years (4A and 5A) of the second cycle (postgraduate study). In 2008, a fourth subject – Politics and Social Sciences (SP) – was added to the three existing subjects. Since 2019, the specialisms European Studies (EE) and International and Global Relations (ERIG) have been offered as separate courses to differentiate them more clearly. Nowadays, Sciences Po Strasbourg offers five areas for specialisation in the second cycle (postgraduate level) of the degree: “Law and Public Administration” (DAP), “Economics and Finance” (EcoFi), European Studies (EE), International and Global Relations (ERIG), and Politics & Society (PoSo).

The teaching delivered at Sciences Po Strasbourg is resolutely multi-disciplinary, covering Law, Economics, Administration, Modern History, Politics, Geopolitics, Modern Languages, etc. Sport was part of the curriculum until the 1980s. The division of the curriculum into three “generalist” years followed by two years of specialisation and career preparation allows students to develop profiles that stand out from traditional courses, equipped with extensive general knowledge and able to take a broad view of political, economic and social issues. This particular capacity has always been recognised as the specific value-add of Science Po.

An Institute within the University of Strasbourg

IEP Strasbourg has always had links to the University of Strasbourg, in one way or another. When it was founded in 1945, it was jointly managed by the faculties of Arts and Law. Teaching staff from both faculties were equally represented on the Development Board.

Following the events of May ’68 and the Faure Law, political studies institutions outside Paris became EPSCs (Établissements Publics à caractère Scientifique et Culturel [Public Scientific & Cultural Establishments]). Although they still came under the umbrella of their original university, the supervision of departments was separate. However, they still continued to work together closely. When the University of Strasbourg was divided into three entities in 1970, the Institute of Political Studies became part of the University of Law, Politics and Social Sciences (known as “Strasbourg III”, and later the “Robert Schuman University”). This status guaranteed the IEP full autonomy in terms of the qualifications it conferred, as it only relied on the University for administrative and financial matters. The Development Board then evolved into a Board of Directors, composed in equal parts of external individuals, teaching staff and students (plus an administrative staff representative).

When the Savary Law (1984) legislated to give even more autonomy to Institutes of Political Studies outside Paris by awarding their EPA (Etablissement Public Administratif [Administrative Public Establishment]) status, Strasbourg opted for the status quo in 1989 and became an internal institute of the Robert Schuman University. Along with Sciences Po Saint-Germain-en-Laye near Paris, Strasbourg is currently the only regional Sciences Po to be fully integrated into a university. When the three Strasbourg universities merged in 2009, Sciences Po Strasbourg retained its status within the reunified University of Strasbourg. Teaching at Sciences Po Strasbourg benefits from this position, receiving the valuable support of a great University, through which the Institute is able to offer, for example, a particularly wide range of language courses, as well as assistance from lecturers from other parts of the University.

Directors of Sciences Po Strasbourg since 1945