Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences, University of Pennsylvania ‘18
Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, LUISS Guido Carli University ’17
As a member of the Behavioral Insights team at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, Francesca Papa (Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences ’18) works to apply her behavioral science knowledge to research topics from organizational management and change to public policy and regulation. “It’s a very exciting environment, and a perfect match between my education and what I’ve always wanted to do,” she says. Francesca, who previously worked at the European Commission and studied in France (Sciences Po), Italy (LUISS) and the United States (Stanford University) before coming to Penn, has always been interested in international affairs—and as a graduate of the inaugural class of the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences (MBDS) program, she is uniquely prepared to design experiments with a variety of applications.
After completing her undergraduate degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Francesca knew she wanted a master’s degree with an interdisciplinary approach. “While the core of the MBDS program is behavioral science, the program really gives you flexibility to choose your electives,” she says. “I was able to take each of my electives in a different department at Penn, which allowed me to grow intellectually and draw unconventional connections.” Francesca took classes from the Wharton School, the Political Science department, the Law School and the Annenberg School of Communication and wrote a paper connecting her studies of Law and Economics with concepts from Network Analysis methodology. She first presented her paper at a conference in Oxford and was later awarded with the Brenno Galli Award as Most Promising Young Scholar presenting at the Italian Association of Law and Economics—an opportunity Francesca modestly attributes to the interdisciplinary nature of the program. But the program’s commitment to integrating different perspectives goes deep, she says. “We not only learned to apply quantitative tools, but also to question them philosophically—to think creatively about problems. This was one of the greatest lessons for me,” she says, recalling the MBDS course in Quantitative Modeling that took this approach.
To prospective students, Francesca suggests getting involved with as many projects as you can. “You’ll have a lot of choices, and you’ll be encouraged and supported in what you choose,” she says. In addition to the encouragement to explore, Francesca valued the access to Penn resources, from support for conducting research and experiments to travel funds for presenting at international conferences. “It’s a great strength and a real sign of how much the University invests in its students,” she adds.