Bruno Palier in the classroom, Sciences Po

CIVICA’s joint course Welfare States in Transition welcomed master students in Paris


On 29 April, students from the joint master's course “Welfare States in Transition”, co-taught by Anke Hassel (Hertie School) and Bruno Palier (Sciences Po), finally met in person in Paris.

Frank Stadelmaier (Senior Project Manager for CIVICA at Sciences Po) and Carly Hafner (Project Manager for CIVICA at Sciences Po's Department of Studies and Partnerships) illustrate this unique pedagogical experience. 

What do the joint master's courses consist of? How are they organised?

Joint master's courses are co-designed by two faculty members from CIVICA universities and co-taught to a mixed group of students from the respective institutions. This format allows instructors to explore a topic from complementary perspectives, and students benefit from this exchange between professors and students from different backgrounds. At Sciences Po, we have organised joint master's courses by finding instructors who have pre-existing working relationships with experts of other CIVICA universities. Professors work together, alongside the academic staff members at each university, to design the syllabus and deliver the course. 

When did this initiative started and how did it develop?

Our first CIVICA joint master´s course “Democracy in Crises” was launched in Autumn 2020 between the Hertie School and our own School of Public Affairs, taught by Florence Faucher and Christian Freudlsperger. Since then, Sciences Po's School of Public Affairs has developed two additional joint master's courses: a second course with the Hertie School that has been held twice (“Welfare States in Transition”, co-taught by Bruno Palier and Anke Hassel), and a new course this semester on “Diving in the Digital Public Space” with Central European University (co-taught by Jean-Philippe Cointet and Marton Karsai). The overall feedback on these courses has been very positive, and with each new edition of a course, we are able to make adjustments to enrich the learning experience for students. 

This is the first time that we have been able to physically welcome CIVICA students from our partner institution on campus. We are confident that the combination of online and in-person learning will strengthen connections between CIVICA students and make the experience even more engaging. 

What are the main objectives of the CIVICA joint master's courses? 

The objective of the CIVICA joint master's courses is to create an immersive and collaborative learning environment between faculty and students, and to allow students to benefit from a variety of different perspectives and teaching methods. When embarking on a joint course, we are looking for ideas that are complementary to our courses, offer a different perspective on a course, or provide geographic diversity. This joint course taught by Bruno Palier of Sciences Po and Anke Hassel from Hertie School was built on a joint research initiative, which has been particularly enriching for the students. 

What has been learned from the COVID-19 experience? 

Joint master's courses have been one of the several success stories of the CIVICA teaching offering during the pandemic. They have taken place almost entirely online, which offers an opportunity for students in different countries to attend the same course. Students can engage with different cultures and perspectives in the joint courses without having to leave their campus. In addition, our faculty members have been able to experiment different pedagogical tools which have resulted in positive results for students taking the course. For example, having courses entirely online means that instructors can more easily promote small group exchanges between the students through breakout rooms involving students from both universities. 

We are excited to continue exploring and expanding our offer of joint courses with the CIVICA partners in the years to come.


Written by Anne-laure Henault-Renard (Sciences Po) 

Photo credit: Sciences Po

Watch the interview with Bruno Palier (Sciences Po), Anke Hassel (Hertie School) and master's students