IEU Experience


At IE University, we pride ourselves on hands-on experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. Some of our students recently participated in the CIVICA European Week at Sciences Po in Paris, France, an opportunity to discuss the future environmental and social sciences challenges Europe will face. We caught up with two European Week participants to hear about their experiences.

Mayte Franco Garcia was born in Spain, but grew up in Ecuador.  She’s recently started what she describes as a dream role as an intern in the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, where she’ll be working throughout the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Sondre Tostrup, from Norway, describes himself as “a curious student striving to make a difference by asking questions, connecting with people and trying new solutions.” He’s an aspiring consultant, with a passion for both business and international relations.

IE University’s membership with CIVICA, the European University of Social Sciences, provides valuable opportunities for students to participate in Europe-wide courses and programs, as well as completing the CIVICA Engage Track. Recently, a group of bachelor’s students took part in the CIVICA European Week event in Paris, where they explored challenges and opportunities related to cities, climate change and sustainable urbanization. Teresa Olombrada Rodríguez, a Dual Degree in Laws + International Relations student, shared her experience, stating, “My group visited the “ZAC des Tartres” in Saint-Denis. It is an example of how to urbanize an area while remaining loyal to its identity: if in the past it was a rural zone, it had now been urbanized to keep some arable land for neighbors to continue doing their rural activities. I found it very interesting to learn about sustainable and anthropocentric urbanization.”

In addition, Mayte, a Bachelor in International Relations student, and Sondre, a Dual Degree in Business Administration and International Relations student, participated in the most recent CIVICA European Week. Read on to hear about their experiences and what they learned from it. 

What is the CIVICA European Week, and why did you decide to participate?

Mayte: The CIVICA European Week is an insightful event organized by a European university, held this year at Sciences Po. This week is full of education, fun and networking. I decided to participate in this week because I believe that people getting together to solve the world’s current issues is the best way to improve where we are right now.

Sondre: The CIVICA European Week allows students from all across Europe’s top social science universities to come together and share experiences, network and discuss the future challenges of Europe. As it was co-founded by the European Union, the future of Europe lies close to its heart. This year, the topic was “Ecological transitions: cities on the frontline.”

Tell us about your experience of the CIVICA European Week and what you learned from it.

Mayte: This year’s topic dealt with ecological transition and urbanism, so I gained a lot of new knowledge at the hands of experts. IE University‘s delegation was fully immersed in the activities, always providing the best quality outcomes. One of the most challenging and rewarding parts was meeting and working with people from around the globe. Having to think as one single unit helped me gain a more international perspective. 

Sondre: It was a very intense program that included listening to many esteemed lecturers. This year’s topic was a good fit for the host university, Sciences Po, at their campus in Paris. It was particularly interesting as Paris is hosting the Olympics next summer—which many people have viewed in the past as the best-known example of unsustainable spending and development. In my opinion, the most valuable aspect of the European Week was sharing experiences with students from other universities.

What type of opportunities is CIVICA providing for students at IE University?

Mayte: This alliance is the perfect way to become a well-rounded individual within your university. 

Sondre: The CIVICA program provides an opportunity for students to network and discuss problems with like-minded thinkers from other leading universities in Europe. I would say that it lifts the overall experience as a Bachelor in International Relations student and sets IE University apart from other universities.

How did your experience complement your studies at IE University?

Mayte: As an IE Sustainability Office intern, I believe this experience has given me fresh perspectives on “wicked problems” in terms of implementing more sustainable practices both personally and professionally. 

Sondre: The topics of the CIVICA European Week will always be relevant to your studies at IE University. During the week, you get to deep dive into a particular topic, hearing from the world’s leading experts in the field. This is definitely going to be useful later on in your program.