In 2011, IFRIS became the coordinator of the SITES (Science, Innovation and Technology in Society) LabEx (Laboratory of Excellence) dedicated to research in the field of Science, Technology and Innovation in Society. This large research programme is financed by the ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche), the French National Research Agency, within the framework of the “Investing for the Future” programme. It is going to structure IFRIS’ activities until 2016. The aim is to reinforce the analytical capabilities of the co-production of knowledge, innovation, and social and political order at different scales, ranging from the local to the global, and in both the past and the present. LabEx SITES is a territorialized thematic network carried by the PRES (centre of research and higher education) of Université Paris-Est (ESIEE, Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, UPEM), lePRES HESAM (EHESS, CNAM), the CNRS, the INRA, the IRD and Université Paris 13. It brings together over 150 researchers working in 7 different research groups. In the long run, LabEx SITES will primarily be located on two sites: the Cité Descartes of the Paris-Est PRES and the Condorcet Campus.
The primary objective of LabEx SITES is to initiate new research and renew the research agendas. The main idea is to promote the analysis of the co-production of the regimes of science and knowledge, innovation, and social and political order, at different scales ranging from the local to the global, in contemporary times and throughout history. The research will aim to shed light on the three major challenges of “knowledge societies”: the renewal of innovation and of policies on innovation linked to the distributed nature of knowledge production; the government of technoscience via flexible combinations of public support, regulation through risk, and legitimization conflicts in the public sphere; and Earth politics analysed through the articulation of different scales, from territorial to global issues. Classical methods for analysing practices, discourses and institutional forms are supplemented by a digital platform and by methods for analysing multi-level dynamics.
The second objective is to train a new generation of researchers in the field of Science and Technology in Society. LabEx SITES is in the process of creating a national doctoral training programme (the “Doctoral College”) which will be an equivalent of the training programmes in other leading European centres. It will increase the scale of the training of PhD students and is expected to attract many European students.
The third objective of LabEx SITES is to promote access to research and contribute to its wider use by the different stakeholders. Many tools will be implemented, including: training courses for professionals; forums dedicated to specific themes (e.g. life science and society), which will be planned in collaboration with institutions from the scientific world, the economic world or civil society; outputs catering to a wide audience (e.g. news briefs on science in society, short books, lectures, etc.), and an interactive space on the internet.
The fourth objective is to reinforce the international attractiveness of Paris and surrounding areas by creating a Chair of excellence which will allow three to four international researchers a year to be invited, and by creating a system of doctoral and post doctoral grants.