Dual BA Program student Luca Springer ’16 has been selected as a 2016 Rhodes Scholar. He is one of only 89 recipients of this prestigious award worldwide, and will pursue a Master of Public Policy degree at Oxford University this fall.
According to its website, the Rhodes Trust seeks students of “outstanding intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service” who “demonstrate a strong propensity to emerge as ‘leaders of the world’s future.’”
When Springer first began college, he planned on entering the private sector, but his experiences in the Dual BA Program, and the cohesive undergraduate experience at Sciences Po and Columbia, two universities with a strong history of activism, gradually changed his goals.
“The fact that an individual can make a difference [in politics] is something I only realized through my experiences in the Dual BA Program, and it is a large part of the reason I decided to take the step—and the risk—to go into politics,” Springer said.
Throughout his life, Springer has witnessed a distressing, and growing, tendency in politics toward the radical right in Europe, marked by an aversion to cross-country cultural exchange.
“At Columbia, I took Philosophy of Law with Professor Michele Moody-Adams, where we analyzed the Nuremburg trials. That was the very moment I realized that I can’t just criticize what’s going on in European politics—I actually have to do something about it,” Springer said.
Springer met with Glenn Novarr, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs at the School of General Studies (GS), who he describes as the “driving force” behind his decision to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship. His discussions with Novarr, in addition to support from the Columbia University Office of Global Programs, Victoria Rosner, Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at GS, Peter J. Awn, Dean of the School of General Studies, and his professors at both Sciences Po and Columbia, helped in navigating the challenging application process.
“The faculty and administration have been immensely helpful, and they were there to provide support every step of the way because it was something I cared about,” Springer said.
At Sciences Po, Springer studied politics, law, and economics, and at Columbia, he is majoring in philosophy with a concentration in business management. He describes his undergraduate studies as having laid the foundation for his future endeavors, where his time at Oxford will give him the tools to take the next step.
“It’s one thing to theoretically know what the problem is, but it’s another thing to put it into practice,” Springer said.
At Oxford, Springer will focus on migration and education policies, which he sees as being the two most pivotal ministries in the current political climate. Upon graduation, one possible career path he is considering is to enter into one of these ministries.
“It would be nice to try and mix things up a little bit, to fight for my values. Right now, the idea is that making a change in politics [in Europe] is impossible.”
Springer is hopeful that if more young, well-educated people get involved in politics, this notion will die out, allowing space for real change in European migration policies.
Springer is a senior in the Dual BA Program Between Columbia University and Sciences Po, who has served as a student representative at both universities and is a member of the GS Honor Society. He will graduate this May with two bachelor’s degrees, one from each institution.
“It’s one thing to learn about a culture, but it’s a very different thing to get the chance to experience it. The Dual BA Program has been the most important step in my life thus far—it has changed everything. Being able to study in two distinct environments is a very new approach to education, and I think this approach will only become more important in the future,” Springer said.