In October 2023, 22 LISD International Policy Associates (IPAs) traveled to Paris and Berlin during the fall semester break for high-level meetings with government, private sector, think tank, media, and NGO officials as well as Princeton alumni. These are unique experiential learning opportunities for Princeton undergraduate students who were selected for the year-long International Policy Associate Program. The trip was led by Executive Director Nadia Crisan, Faculty Director Professor Andrew Moravcsik, and Acting Faculty Director Dr. Sophie Meunier.
In Paris, students met with high-level representatives of the French government, including Manuel Lafont Rapnouil, Director of Policy Planning at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Anne-Claire Legendre, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson; and Walid Fouque, advisor to President Emmanuel Macron for the Americas, Asia, and Oceania. They visited the Banque du France to meet with Director for European and Multilateral Policies Pierre-François Weber and received a private tour of the Galerie dorée. IPAs met with the mayor of Le Havre and former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who shared with students his perspective as a former leader of the French government and founder of the new Horizons party. To learn more about France’s rich tradition of cultural policy, IPAs met with Aurélie Filippetti, Director of Cultural Affairs for Paris and the former French Minister of Culture and Communications. To hear more about finance and consulting in the trans-Atlantic space and about the life of an American expatriate in Paris, IPAs met with businesswoman and Princeton alumna Helen Lee Bouygues ’95. From the U.S. diplomatic corps in the city, IPAs had the opportunity to engage with U.S. Ambassador Denise Campbell Bauer and Acting Head of the U.S. Mission to UNESCO Lillian Wahl-Tuco. To give greater context to these engagements, students met with journalists Elaine Sciolino (formerly of The New York Times) and Michaela Wiegel (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). They also met with students at Sciences Po, toured the National Assembly of France, and celebrated Princeton’s anniversary in orange and black with alumni at a reception at Maison de l’Amérique latine.
In Berlin, IPAs engaged with prominent German diplomats and political figures, including chairman of the Munich Security Conference Christoph Heusgen and Eva Christiansen, former policy and media advisor to Chancellor Angela Merkel. They met Mellissa Eddy, New York Times Berlin Business Correspondent, Josh Hammer ’79, an American journalist based in Berlin, and Julia Friedlander ’06, director of Atlantik-Brücke. From the German government, IPAs had the opportunity to speak with Dominik Mutter, Director for Security Policy at the German Foreign Ministry and Franziska Brantner, Parliamentary State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. IPAs toured the German Ministry of Finance and the Bundestag. They also visited the Hertie School, meeting administrators, students, and faculty and learning more about its degree programs. Students ended their time in Berlin with a visit to the U.S. Embassy, where they met diplomats and discussed the trajectory of U.S.-German relations.
“In our meetings with international policy practitioners, former and current public officials, and journalists we were able to engage with a wide range of topics: from information warfare to French strategic autonomy priorities to German increases in defense spending to intangibles of cultural diplomacy,” said Zhenia Khalabadzhakh ’26. “This trip not only allowed me to deepen my understanding of these and other aspects of international policy, but also to reflect my interests within the field and discover potential career paths I might want to pursue in the future.”
“Even having studied up on France and Germany before the trip, nothing can replace learning about a country, people, and political landscape by walking the halls and being in the room where it happens,” said Don Kohla ’25. “I appreciated the diversity in the types of meetings and opportunities to engage with policymakers we had as they contributed to, at least in my eyes, a well-rounded approach.”
With contribution from IPA Sam Harshbarger ’24.
Photos: Grégoire Léon-Dufour
Photos: Sophie Tichonenko