Notre Dame senior Brittany Ebeling named Michel David-Weill Laureate

Author: Erin Blasko

Brittany Ebeling Feature

University of Notre Dame senior Brittany Ebeling has been named the 2018 Michel David-Weill Laureate, allowing her to pursue a fully funded two-year master’s degree program at the prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies, or “Sciences Po.”

Valued at $80,000, the scholarship is awarded each year to one American who exemplifies the core values of Sciences Po alumnus Michel David-Weill, namely, academic excellence, leadership, multiculturalism, tolerance and high achievement.

Located in Paris, Sciences Po is known as the “Harvard of France” — a highly selective research university with a unique academic model that combines human and social sciences, multidisciplinary study and a professional grounding to educate students to understand and transform society.

Notre Dame is one of 30 institutions that competes for the award. Each institution nominates a single student. A winner is selected from a small group of finalists after interviews with a selection committee in New York City.

An international economics major with a concentration in French and a supplementary major in peace studies, Ebeling will pursue a degree in “Governing the Large Metropolis,” a graduate program within the Urban School at Sciences Po that seeks to produce professionals and citizens capable of tackling the challenges of contemporary society at the urban or regional level, from conflict and inequality to pollution and mobility.

In selecting Ebeling for the award, the selection committee “deemed (her) very focused and specific, with an interesting background and an amazing project at the intersection of peace and urban planning that fits very well with the training she will receive at Sciences Po,” according to Sylvain Quatravaux, international affairs manager for Sciences Po in the U.S.

Sciences Po professor Richard Balme, a member of the selection committee, said of Ebeling, “She was well prepared, strongly motivated and able to reach out to many dimensions with her project. She convincingly argued the relevance of studying the city of Paris’ politics and policies through a global and innovative perspective.”

Ebeling is the first Notre Dame student to win the Michel David-Weill Scholarship. She is the third finalist from the University in as many years.

In applying for the award, she was assisted by the Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE), which promotes the intellectual development of Notre Dame undergraduates through research, creative endeavors and the pursuit of fellowships.

“Receiving this scholarship is not only an incredible honor, but also tasks me with the fulfillment of those goals which I expressed during my interview: working toward more inclusive local economies, promulgating co-housing and co-living models and investing in sustainable city structures,” Ebeling said.

“Modes of urban life which have reinforced inequality are, I believe, untenable, and I am deeply grateful to be given an opportunity to study and work toward a more equitable alternative,” she said.

Post-Sciences Po, Ebeling may pursue a Ph.D., live in the mountains and work on a farm or start working to build co-living and intentional living communities that support local eating and community economies, she said.

“Whatever I do, I hope to work and write consistently about issues of justice and peace,” she said.

A native of Lakeville, Minnesota, Ebeling’s undergraduate resume includes multiple internships and research grants both here and abroad.

She interned with the International Organization for Migration in Geneva, Switzerland, and Dakar, Senegal; the International Program of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.; and Asylum Access, a legal assistance and strategic litigation nonprofit that advocates for the rights of refugees.

She conducted research in Spain and Denmark through grants from the Nanovic Institute for European Studies; in Ecuador through a grant from the Kellogg Institute for International Studies; and in Kolda, Senegal, through a grant from the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program sponsored by the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts.

On campus, she has worked for the Center for Civil and Human Rights within the Keough School of Global Affairs; the Kellogg Institute, where she serves as a member of the Student Advisory Board; and as a research assistant to Ernesto Verdeja, associate professor of political science.

She studied French in Switzerland after her junior year thanks to a Summer Language Abroad Grant from the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures and took a gap year after that to work and live in Dakar, Senegal.

She thanked the following individuals and entities for helping her to reach this point in her academic career: The French and Francophone Studies Program; the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies; the Kellogg Institute; Jeffrey Thibert, the Paul and Maureen Stefanick Director of CUSE; Collin Meissner, assistant dean for undergraduate studies in the College of Arts and Letters; and David Ruccio, professor of economics in the College of Arts and Letters.

“Sciences Po is the ‘Harvard of France’ and this is an incredibly powerful message for us and for the Department of Economics,” said Julia Douthwaite Viglione, professor of French in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. “It means that the elite of Parisian intelligentsia in economics and the social sciences more widely, believe, as do I, that Ms. Ebeling has what it takes to help our world take advantage of new economies to usher in a more just, diverse and environmentally stable future. She gives me hope.”

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Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127,