The Jean Monnet Chair

Mar­tin Mor­geney­er is a lec­tur­er-cum-research-sci­en­tist at the UTC’s TIMR lab­o­ra­to­ry, which spe­cialis­es in the con­trol of par­ti­cle sys­tems. He now holds a Jean Mon­net Chair of the Euro­pean Union

The «Empow­er­ing Europe, Envi­ron­ment, Engi­neer­ing» Chair focus­es on the eco­log­i­cal tran­si­tion and the respec­tive roles of engi­neer­ing and the Euro­pean Union (EU) in achiev­ing it. This Chair places UTC in an inter­na­tion­al net­work of excel­lence, thanks to the EU Com­mis­sion. A net­work that will act as a cat­a­lyst for the launch of teach­ing and research ini­tia­tives with­in the Uni­ver­si­ty to meet the chal­lenges fac­ing humanity. 

Among these chal­lenges? «In the space of a few years or decades, human­i­ty has destroyed two-thirds of insects, ver­te­brates and a large pro­por­tion of resources. We all know that we are now liv­ing on cred­it, a debt that is becom­ing more dan­ger­ous by the day», warns the new ‘Jean Mon­net pro­fes­sor’ Morgeneyer. 

How can we bring about a pos­i­tive change in the sit­u­a­tion? «On the one hand, there are the ‘col­lap­sol­o­gists’ who are study­ing our cur­rent tra­jec­to­ry, which is lead­ing us straight into the wall. On the oth­er hand, there are our engi­neer­ing sci­ences, which can help to reverse the trend: inte­grat­ing eco­log­i­cal rea­son­ing into our approach­es, enhanc­ing the knowl­edge of cit­i­zens and assist­ing deci­sion-mak­ers. The result will be a set of struc­tures designed to pro­mote respon­si­bil­i­ty, con­trol and sobri­ety. Help­ing to achieve this is the aim of my Jean Mon­net Chair,» he says. Mar­tin Mor­geney­er is firm­ly among those who believe in the cor­rec­tive effect of sci­en­tif­ic tech­no­log­i­cal knowledge. 

To illus­trate his point about the human capac­i­ty to rise to chal­lenges, he uses the metaphors of road safe­ty and the cre­ation of Europe after the 2nd World War. «In the 1970s, road acci­dents claimed almost 16,000 vic­tims a year in France, even though road traf­fic was much low­er than it is today. In 50 years, the num­ber of vic­tims has been reduced by a fac­tor of five, thanks in par­tic­u­lar to tech­no­log­i­cal progress by man­u­fac­tur­ers and the intro­duc­tion of inno­va­tions such as seat­belts, airbags, var­i­ous con­trols, etc. There have also been changes in reg­u­la­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly with regard to speed lim­its, which have played a role. In a nut­shell: it was the involve­ment of all the play­ers con­cerned — engi­neers, cit­i­zens, deci­sion-mak­ers — that made this pos­i­tive change pos­si­ble. Anoth­er exam­ple: the found­ing of Europe. At a time when Euro­peans had been at war with each oth­er for cen­turies, and still in the midst of the 2nd World War, French vision­ar­ies began to design a new Europe that would enable us to forge polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic, social and cul­tur­al links that would make it vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble for a new con­flict to arise. Under the lead­er­ship of Jean Mon­net and Robert Schu­man, Euro­peans showed that they were capa­ble of tak­ing a vir­tu­ous turn», explains Mar­tin Morgeneyer. 

In 2019, Europe launched the Green Deal, a set of mea­sures designed to put the EU on the path to eco­log­i­cal tran­si­tion. It’s a pact that requires a com­pre­hen­sive, trans­verse approach. 

What are the main issues addressed by the Green Deal? Europe is engaged in a leg­isla­tive process that includes ini­tia­tives on cli­mate, the envi­ron­ment, ener­gy, trans­port, indus­try, food, agri­cul­ture, bio­di­ver­si­ty and sus­tain­able finance. In this sense, the Green Pact is a huge oppor­tu­ni­ty for us, as uni­ver­si­ties and engi­neer­ing schools, to pre­pare stu­dents for these chal­lenges, but also to con­tribute to future solu­tions or those already in the pipeline», he asserts. 

What is the ide­al pro­file of an engi­neer to meet the chal­lenges raised by the Green Deal? “We will need engi­neers who are able to under­stand the reluc­tance of some peo­ple to change their behav­iour in soci­ety and, on the tech­no­log­i­cal side, to seek out and imple­ment inno­v­a­tive and sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly rel­e­vant solu­tions, while tak­ing a his­tor­i­cal and anthro­po­log­i­cal approach», he stresses. 

The Jean Mon­net Chair aims, in this sense, to pro­vide over­all ele­ments facil­i­tat­ing an effec­tive envi­ron­men­tal tran­si­tion. « UTC has his­tor­i­cal­ly been involved in issues relat­ed to sus­tain­abil­i­ty and the Euro­pean Union. We have there­fore built this Chair on these exist­ing cours­es. We are also con­duct­ing research projects (CALIPER, D‑Brake, miplex­mo, etc.) with Euro­pean part­ners on the issues addressed by the Green Pact,» con­cludes Mar­tin Morgeneyer. 

It is a Chair that also con­tributes to the inter­na­tion­al influ­ence of UTC and attests to the high aca­d­e­m­ic lev­el of the university’s teach­ing, not only in sci­en­tif­ic and tech­no­log­i­cal knowl­edge, but also in the human sciences.

Le magazine

Novembre 2023 - N°61

Activité physique, nutrition & santé

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