Notre Dame student named 2018 Michel David-Weill Laureate
Madison Riehle | Monday, April 9, 2018
Notre Dame senior Brittany Ebeling has been named the 2018 Michel David-Weill Laureate, a prestigious award given to one American student each year to pursue a two-year fully-funded graduate program at the Paris Institute of Political Science, or “Sciences Po.”
A native of Lakeville, Minnesota, Ebeling is the third finalist from the University, and first Notre Dame student to receive this award.
She is studying peace studies and international economics, with a concentration in French. Ebeling said she will continue her studies at Sciences Po through a degree in “Governing the Large Metropolis.”
“The program focuses on several facets of urban planning,” Ebeling said. “It [addresses] all kinds of things that would touch the life of a city like mobility, sustainability — in an environmental sense, but also political systems and cities as spaces where changing demographics coalesce. My particular interests in co-housing, intentional living communities and environmental sustainability follow under these lines.”
The award is given each year to an American student that “exemplifies the core values embodied by Michel David-Weill: excellence, leadership, multiculturalism, tolerance and high achievement,” according to the Sciences Po U.S. Foundation.
Notre Dame is one of the 30 universities and colleges that nominate a student each year for the award, according to a University press release.
“The process involved a paper application, in-person interview,” Ebeling said. “We interviewed in New York in front of a panel committee and spoke about our interests, our application, the reasons we wanted to come to Paris and why Paris was the critical site of our studies.”
Ebeling said the political and historical aspects of Paris’s culture contribute to her desire to attend Sciences Po.
“There are so many conversations happening in this political and historical moment related to sustainability and global trends in building cities that respond to inequalities — structurally and financially and otherwise — and Paris is a space to be studying those things,” Ebeling said. “I’m really excited to be in a place that is very much an intellectual space, but also very much an activist space.”
Many of Ebeling’s internships and studies over the years have pointed her toward this direction of civil service and studying inequality and urban planning, she said.
“Out of my first year of college I interned with an organization called Asylum Access, which is a legal rights refugee nonprofit that does strategic negotiation and advocacy on behalf of refugees,” Ebeling said. “I also interned in Switzerland with the International Organization for Migration, which is part of the UN, then later interned with them in Senegal. I most recently interned with a think tank in [Washington] D.C. called the Migration Policy Institute, where I was working as a research intern for their international programs team.”
Ebeling also said she gives a lot of credit to the guidance of her professors for helping her hone in on her interests in pursuit of the Michel David-Weill Scholarship.
“The academic life that I’ve had here in which so many professors were so deeply invested in helping me understand not only practicalities attached to what it is to do service and what it is to work towards a better and more sustainable world, but also deeply understand the rich history that has led to this point,” Ebeling said. “I’ve just had such incredible and supportive professors who have really richly contributed to my intellectual life and have challenged me to think and to articulate what it is to actively fight against systems of oppression.”
Once Ebeling is finished with her studies at Sciences Po, she said she plans to continue her work helping others, though how that will look is still uncertain.
“I think I just want to be contributing to projects that are cognizant of my place and privilege in the world, and work to build more livable sustainable and caring cities — places where people feel attached to their localities, where people are eating food that is grown in the places that they are and living in inclusive cities,” Ebeling said.
“That could take many forms,” she added. “That could take the form of living in the mountains and gardening, or working in a political capacity or any number of things. I just hope that whatever I am doing, I am deeply invested in those practices.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misquoted Ebeling as saying Asylum Access was “an illegal rights refugee nonprofit.” Ebeling said the organization is “a legal rights refugee nonprofit.”