Jean Vilbert, MIPA, MA

Jean Vilbert wears glasses and a suit, standing in front of a leafy background.Hometown

São Paulo, Brazil

Previous education

Bachelor of laws, master of laws

Professional/research interests

Governance, economic and social rights, and judicial politics

Expected graduation date


Why an MIPA?

I studied law because I noticed that the legal field can help people improve their social status or protect liberties and rights that engender and perpetuate social stratification. I served as a judge in Brazil for half a decade and used to adjudicate hundreds of cases a month granting rights to the population. However, whether this has improved standards of living in the country over time is unclear, much to my frustration. This puzzle drew me to study public affairs, where I can see the legal-social-economic phenomena from a broader standpoint.

Why the La Follette School?

When I decided I wanted to return to grad school, I drafted an “impossible” mixture of things I would like to pursue – deep theoretical knowledge and practical groundwork in Public Affairs, Political Science, Economics, and Statistics. La Follette offers all of this. The School is the perfect place to study policy from both a micro and macro-institutional perspective. We take very practical courses that teach us how to produce policy on the ground, but we also dive into more theoretical classes. This flexibility and the fact we can devise a curriculum that amalgamates strong qualitative and quantitative skills made La Follette unique.

Career goals?

I want to purse a PhD and become a professor of political science, researching topics that have practical implications, so that I can contribute to the development of policies beneficial to developing countries, especially those in Latin America.

How has the La Follette School set you on the path to meeting your career goals?

I believe that if we are to enhance models of governance and develop more efficient standards of action through public policy, further research is needed in the interconnections between politics, law, and economics. With the tools that La Follette has provided me, I hope I can find breakthroughs in the field as an academic.


I have been serving as a Teaching Assistant for the department of political science since my first semester. For those who want to be a political science professor, there is no better place to be! Given that La Follette is a multidisciplinary community, we have open doors all around the university.


I have been working closely with my faculty advisor and La Follette School Director, Prof. Susan Yackee, and we built a schedule that met my high-level expectations and prepared me for the challenges of the PhD application and academic life. For example, to bolster my quantitative skills, I took courses in math and econometrics. Now I feel comfortable engaging with content across interdisciplinary areas of interest.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students?

Enjoy every minute. Besides classes, there is always something going on: a lecture here, an opportunity to collaborate there, a meeting to build your network…

Most rewarding La Follette School experience?

Given my law background, the first time I spotted a statistical mistake on a paper published by an important journal was an “a ha” moment: Wow! Now I know these things. Huh?!

Anything else?

After two years as a Badger, I learned that the University of Wisconsin is not just another university but an institution with something different to offer. I cannot tell you what: you need to come and feel. What I can say is that the UW–Madison literally became my home.