The institute
Mission and Scientific Policy

Mission and Scientific Policy

The year 2020-2021 has allowed us to lay the foundations for a new trajectory with the adoption of a collegial management team in line with the unique and multidisciplinary model of the Institut d’Études Avancées de Nantes. With this appointment, and after having consulted widely with its partners, the Institute has decided to embark on a new scientific project, taking into account the upheavals that have been taking place in the world of research and in society as a whole in recent years. This is the purpose of the present five-year research program, which intends to build on the solid foundations of the IEA, while betting on the renewal of its practices.

To this end, and in keeping with the principles that have made it a success, the Institute intends to increase and stabilize its funding, expand its network of partners and strengthen their trust, simplify and clarify the statutes of its various stakeholders, welcome a larger proportion of junior researchers and structure their supervision, develop its research areas and themes, strengthen the dissemination of its activities to different audiences, and finally, enhance its tangible heritage (the building and library shared with the MSH, its collections), but above all, its intangible heritage: its exceptional worldwide community of alumni who share a common experience of scientific training.

While reaffirming IEA’s historical focus on the dogmatic framework of societies, the scientific project intends to open up to a new approach that responds to the challenges of our time: the relationship between humans and their environment as expressed in the notion of "ecumene" developed by Augustin Berque, and to a new theme: "freedom of thought. 

Both the method and the research themes that form the basis of this intellectual project will be reflected in the Institute’s various activities: the composition and animation of the fellows’ cohort, the organization of one-off workshops, multi-year seminars to build epistemic communities, and events aimed at the scientific community, private sector partners, and the general public.

Conversation as a condition for the pollination of knowledge

In strict accordance with the international tradition of the best IEAs, the Institute implements the following principles:

  • Invitation to residency each year of researchers rigorously selected on the basis of individual criteria of excellence and originality
  • Fellows are given complete freedom to conduct their work. 
  • Composition of a coherent, diversified and stimulating group that is likely to challenge each other’s frames of reference. 
  • Provision of a comprehensive and high quality set of logistical, administrative and scientific support services to the Fellows.
  • Sharing a stimulating material framework for work, dialogue and conversation.

North-South dialogue as a structuring element 

The singular distinctive mark of the Institut d’études avancées de Nantes is to privilege the dialogue between the so-called "North" and "South" countries, which allows for the emergence and discussion of questions that are transversal to the regions of the world, to cultures and to knowledge. 

Interaction with artists, at the heart of the quest for knowledge and the communication of research to different audiences

Since its inception, the Institute has sought to bring together different modes of apprehension of reality in its research work. This is why it has always welcomed artists from different disciplines in residence, with whom it has established a fruitful dialogue.

Supervision of emerging research

IEA has always welcomed young researchers with excellent research projects and no institutional ties. Doctoral schools have also been regularly organized in conjunction with colloquia. In the coming years, IEA will strengthen this axis by giving a stable and systematic structure to this program.

Dogmatic framework of societies

The dogmatic framework of societies is a major concept in Pierre Legendre’s critical philosophy, and one of the guiding ideas of IEA’s scientific project. 

The work being done at the Institute through exchange and dialogue aims to consider these dogmatic systems, not as remnants of irrationality in a manageable and predictable world, but as indispensable supports for the institution of reason in a world that remains diverse, uncertain and unpredictable. 

Mesology and ecumene

True to its scientific mission, the IEA is a fertile ground for the emergence of original avenues of research and reflection. The concerns that weigh on the human future weigh on us all, but these concerns must be understood within the complex relationships that humans have with each other. In order to account for these relationships, the way in which they are woven, fed, modified and evolve, and to understand how they construct culture and history, the IEA follows the thinking of Augustin Berque on the subject of "milieu" and "ecumene. 

Freedom of thought

Academic freedom and freedom of research, critical thinking and freedom of debate are today undermined by different categories of attacks. The first one concerns the direct attacks by the political power against science or scientists, in non-democratic countries but more and more often, also in Western democracies. In a less direct way, the governance by numbers that has been imposed in the field of research has undermined the status of researchers and the conditions of production of their research. Finally, the countries of the South have inherited Western institutions of higher education, study and research, and Western interpretative frameworks that do not allow for an adequate understanding of many cultural and social realities. By the same token, research in Northern countries is hindered in its appropriation of concepts or categories from other cultures.

It is around these major axes that the work of the next few years will be organized and developed.