Interesse saw the IPAL as a great tool to complement her MPP and prepare her for her PhD.
Headshot of Giulia Interesse
Giulia Interesse

Giulia Interesse’s passion for pursuing a greater understanding of the world has brought her far from her upbringing in southern Italy—first to Beijing as an undergraduate exchange student, then to Peking University (PKU) in China to pursue her Master of Public Policy, her PhD, and the PKU—UChicago International Policy Action Lab (IPAL).

“I studied Asian culture, society, and languages with a focus in Chinese studies as an undergraduate in Venice, and in my final year I had the opportunity to study abroad in Beijing,” Interesse said. It was an immersive first experience in China, and her language skills improved quickly. “I knew I had to return to China after graduation. I had a taste for it and wanted to challenge myself even more,” she said.

Even before her academic pursuits, Interesse had been fascinated with global issues. “I was brought up to ask questions about the world and see every aspect as complex and layered,” Interesse said. Interesse was involved early in issues important to her community in southern Italy, using her voice alongside other activists and grassroots organizations to support integration, representation. and cultural participation for refugees and migrants in her city.  “I quickly saw public policy as a way to put into practice all of these kinds of considerations and analysis and have an impact in daily life,” she said.

After finishing her undergraduate degree, Interesse explored graduate programs in China. While researching the language component, she found the public policy program at PKU. “PKU really brought together aspects of my academics and personal life, and I learned alongside people from all over the world with experience in civil service and foreign ministries, which was fascinating. Plus, as the only European person in my MPP program in China, my views—of the world and of policymaking—expanded dramatically.” In her second year of the MPP, Interesse decided to pursue her PhD, researching innovation policy and expanding on her interest in international technology transfer.

Throughout her time at PKU, Interesse had been aware of the International Policy Action Lab (IPAL), a joint, non-degree program offered through a partnership with PKU and the University of Chicago. In summer 2021 she enrolled in the program. “I wanted to learn more about quantitative analytical skills, and IPAL has a great way of teaching and applying diverse analytical tools to public policy issues,” Interesse said.

Throughout the five-week program, Interesse said she was impressed by the support at all levels, from her peers to the teaching assistants to the professors. “Both institutions offered high quality content, and the lectures were brilliant and amazing in conveying knowledge,” Interesse said. “I’ve already been using what I learned at IPAL in my research. IPAL provided me with a solid background in R and quantitative analysis, and the capstone project experience was incredibly valuable. It really showed me that your research can have a life beyond the initial project—it can be used again in another situation in the future.”

In addition to building her quantitative skills, she said she appreciated the social interactions she had with her peers as well. Interesse said she hopes to continue applying the skills she learned at IPAL, whether continuing in academia after completing her PhD or potentially consulting on international technology transfers for international institutions.