Francesca Minetto and Julia Cots Capell, CIVICA Ambassadors

Hertie School’s two CIVICA student ambassadors represent master’s and PhD communities


Francesca Minetto and Júlia Cots Capell aim to bring creative student ideas to the European University alliance.

Francesca Minetto knows from personal experience about breaking down borders. The Hertie School PhD researcher and 2020 Master of International Affairs graduate grew up in northeastern Italy right on the Slovenian border. Her family is Italian, but as a child she went to a Slovenian school.

“Thanks to that very early experience, I understood what Europe means to me,” she says. “Because when Slovenia joined the EU through the enlargement policy, it really felt like a border went down. And because I was going to a Slovenian school in Italy, for me, that was a very important feeling.”

Francesca is one of two new Student Ambassadors to the CIVICA alliance – the eight-member European University of Social Sciences, a role she shares with first-year Master of Public Policy student Júlia Cots Capell, who hails from Catalonia, Spain.

As a first-year master’s student with a Law and Economics degree from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Júlia sees the Student Ambassador programme as a way to become involved in the Hertie School’s wider European community – a network that also attracted her to apply to the school.

An avid basketball player since she was young, Júlia understands teamwork: CIVICA “enables students and researchers from all over the world to work together in the development of solutions to today’s and future challenges," she says. She is looking forward to getting to know the Hertie community and representing her fellow students in the role.

Each university in the CIVICA alliance chooses two or three ambassadors to represent their institution, ranging from undergraduate students to postdoctoral researchers. Their role is to promote interaction and exchange within the alliance's communities and be a first point of contact to CIVICA for their peers.

Francesca, whose research focuses on the interlinkages between the EU and the international legal order, sees her role as Ambassador to get other researchers involved in the network. “The whole idea of European Universities is a great tool to foster cooperation,” says Francesca. “As a PhD student, I am looking at it from the perspective of early-stage researchers – how can you benefit from looking at societal issues together, maybe also from different theoretical lenses and different methodological angles.” She is hoping to do a research stay at one of the partner institutions.

Even before the Ambassador programme started, Francesca was involved with CIVICA. In the first year of her master’s programme back in 2019, she co-founded FuturEU, a platform for students across the alliance to learn, exchange ideas, and offer creative solutions for the future of the European Union. Last year, the group held its first international event after two years of planning, a competition that brought together 39 teams, made up of 123 bachelor’s, master’s and PhD students from across Europe. That inspired her to continue her CIVICA work as a PhD researcher.

“I hope that through the year with the other CIVICA Ambassadors, but also at our home institutions, maybe through live events, through brainstorming sessions, students can voice what they think this big borderless European campus can offer them. I will do my best to bring their ideas forward,” she says.

Written by Ellen Thalman (Hertie School)