Pedagogical innovations & Sustainable development

Issues relat­ed to sus­tain­able devel­op­ment were not absent from teach­ing at UTC. The ‘SD Reset’ minor was cre­at­ed in 2012. Since then, the need to go fur­ther has arisen with the cre­ation, in 2022, of the com­pul­so­ry CC for all first-year IS 00 stu­dents and the ‘Ingénierie Souten­able’ (Sus­tain­able Engi­neer­ing) label, which cuts across the 5 majors’ branch­es of UTC.

Hugues Choplin, a lec­tur­er-cum-research sci­en­tist, in the field in phi­los­o­phy and soci­ol­o­gy, is the coor­di­na­tor of the ‘Ingénierie Souten­able’ label, co-pilot­ed by ‘ref­er­ent’ teacher­re­searchers in all the majors’ branch­es of UTC and is cur­rent­ly fol­lowed by near­ly 100 stu­dents from these five branch­es. A label set up fol­low­ing the found­ing, in 2020, of the Col­lec­tif d’Ingénierie Souten­able (CIS) and, at the end of 2022, of the Col­lec­tif LowTech (CLT).

What makes these groups spe­cial? “First­ly, they are groups that include stu­dents and lec­tur­ers, each play­ing an equal­ly impor­tant role. Sec­ond­ly, they are dri­ven by ‘rad­i­cal’ demands in the noble sense of the term. In oth­er words, the idea is to look at the roots of the way we oper­ate and see how we can change them, for exam­ple our means of mobil­i­ty, in the direc­tion of greater sobri­ety”, explains Hugues Choplin.

How can we tran­si­tion towards greater sobri­ety? This is the ques­tion posed by these groups, who believe that Low-Techi­sa­tion could be one of the ways of achiev­ing sobri­ety. What do we mean by Low-Techi­sa­tion? “It’s about trans­form­ing high-tech sys­tems to meet three require­ments: sus­tain­abil­i­ty, sobri­ety and the indi­vid­ual or col­lec­tive appro­pri­a­tion of tech­ni­cal sys­tems. This “low-tech” trans­for­ma­tion requires a pri­ori inter­dis­ci­pli­nary “High Sci­ence” and, above all, a dif­fer­ent sense of inno­va­tion! First­ly, we need to think about and invent more sus­tain­able devices, such as com­put­er cards made from flax fibre. Sec­ond­ly, we need to ques­tion our lifestyles and open up new pos­si­bil­i­ties (“util­i­ties”). For exam­ple, a car could go from being an indi­vid­ual asset to become a shared asset. Final­ly, we need to inno­vate in new ways, by mak­ing sys­tems that peo­ple can eas­i­ly appro­pri­ate, repair if nec­es­sary and so on,” he stresses.

Inter-semester seminar and IS00

Devel­op­ing sus­tain­able engi­neer­ing is at the heart of the think­ing of a grow­ing num­ber of UTC lec­tur­ers and, increas­ing­ly, stu­dents. This approach requires ped­a­gog­i­cal inno­va­tions in both train­ing and research. For exam­ple, since the start of the 2022 aca­d­e­m­ic year, IS00, a com­pul­so­ry CC has been intro­duced for all 1st year engi­neer­ing stu­dents (TC01) in which var­i­ous lab­o­ra­to­ries, includ­ing Costech, col­lab­o­rate. What is the aim of this course? “It’s to ensure that all stu­dents share a com­mon lan­guage on envi­ron­men­tal issues, which cov­er both tech­no-sci­en­tif­ic and socio-eco­nom­ic aspects,” explains Hadrien Coutant, a soci­ol­o­gist at Costech.

In addi­tion, the GE90 inter-semes­ter sem­i­nar, which his­tor­i­cal­ly focused on issues relat­ed to inter­na­tion­al eco­nom­ics and man­age­ment, has been com­plete­ly over­hauled. “Open to all stu­dents but also to col­leagues from oth­er dis­ci­plines, David Flach­er and I have decid­ed to refo­cus it on envi­ron­men­tal issues. Each year, in Jan­u­ary, we explore a giv­en theme in an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary way. This year, for exam­ple, we tack­led the theme of ‘liv­ing things’. At the end of the sem­i­nar, the stu­dents, in groups of three or four, super­vised by David Flach­er, Hugues Choplin and myself, write a dis­ser­ta­tion on a sub­ject of their choice but relat­ed to the theme we all chose to address,” explains Hadrien Coutant, who co-leads the sem­i­nar with David Flacher.

Erasmus Mundus Masters

On the strength of his expe­ri­ence with the first Eras­mus Mundus Mas­ter’s degree that he set up at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Paris XIII, David Flach­er decid­ed to repeat the exer­cise as soon as he was admit­ted to UTC in 2017.

What is so spe­cial about an Eras­mus Mundus Mas­ters course? “We offer Master’s course lead­ers in dif­fer­ent Euro­pean coun­tries the chance to work togeth­er to build an inte­grat­ed course on a trans- Euro­pean scale. If it is select­ed, this course will ben­e­fit from Euro­pean fund­ing, in par­tic­u­lar grants, more than three quar­ters of which are reserved for stu­dents from out­side Europe. In the EPOG+ mas­ter’s pro­gramme, run by the UTC, stu­dents spend the first year of the mas­ter’s pro­gramme with one or two Euro­pean part­ners, and the sec­ond year in France. It’s a show­case for Euro­pean high­er edu­ca­tion on a glob­al scale,” explains David Flach­er, Pro­fes­sor of Economics.

Along­side UTC, eight main part­ners award degrees and near­ly forty asso­ciates con­tribute to train­ing. As the lead part­ner for the mas­ter’s pro­gramme, UTC’s main part­ners include the Sor­bonne Uni­ver­sité clus­ter and Uni­ver­sité Paris-cité in France, the Uni­ver­si­ties of Turin and Rome 3 in Italy, the Vien­na Uni­ver­si­ty of Eco­nom­ics and Busi­ness in Aus­tria and the Berlin School of Eco­nom­ics and Law in Germany.

Asso­ciate part­ners include aca­d­e­m­ic play­ers from all over the world, as well as non-aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions such as the French Devel­op­ment Agency, the Inter­con­ti­nen­tal Net­work for the Social Sol­i­dar­i­ty Econ­o­my, CEPAL, one of the UN’s five region­al eco­nom­ic com­mis­sions, and UNESCO. “These are asso­ciate part­ners who can wel­come stu­dents who wish to do so for their end-of-year Mas­ter’s dis­ser­ta­tion, depend­ing on their project”, he adds. The Eras­mus Mundus Mas­ters attracts more than 1 200 appli­cants of over 120 dif­fer­ent nation­al­i­ties each year, for a total of almost 50 places. What does the Eras­mus Mundus Mas­ter’s pro­gramme involve? “It is built around three major cours­es. One major is ‘Inno­va­tion, knowl­edge and dig­i­tal tran­si­tion’, the sec­ond is ‘Socio-eco­nom­ic, macro-eco­nom­ic and finan­cial tran­si­tion’ and the third is ‘Sus­tain­able devel­op­ment’. Stu­dents who choose a major become spe­cial­ists in the field con­cerned. But our aim is above all for them to work togeth­er, what­ev­er major they choose. For exam­ple, a stu­dent study­ing inno­va­tion issues should also be very famil­iar with eco­log­i­cal issues or the macro-eco­nom­ic prob­lems that this could pose, so that his or her think­ing on eco­nom­ic poli­cies is rel­e­vant,” con­cludes David Flacher.

Le magazine

Novembre 2023 - N°61

Activité physique, nutrition & santé

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