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Lemarchand Nadège

PhD student in sociology, Université Paris Cité

Doctoral school: 623 - Savoirs, Sciences, Education

Contact: nadege.lemarchand(at)

Dissertation title: Envionmental crisis and scientific research fields transformations: the case of sustainability science

Under the direction of Soraya Boudia

This research project focuses on the transformations of the scientific research fields in the context of debates, mobilizations and policies related to the global environmental crisis. In particular, it proposes to study the emerging research field called sustainability science. This field of research is promoted by a set of scientific actors from different disciplines as a new framework responding to socio-environmental issues and implementing new approaches, first and foremost interdisciplinarity and collaboration with stakeholders.

This area refers directly to the concept of sustainable development (translated in french as développement durable or développement soutenable) taken over by the world of international politics, following the famous "Brundtland report" of the World Commission on Environment and Development of the United Nations, and entitled Our Common Future — (WCED, 1987), which popularized the concept. The political dimension of sustainable development from which sustainability science has its origins, from the outset raises the question of the place of this science in society, of the relationships it keeps up with politics and economics, in other words the question of the « régime de savoirs » in which it is part (Pestre, 2003). This issue of social positioning is broken down into sub-issues: research autonomy, the conception of science (which ranges from basic research motivated by curiosity to applied or operational research), research orientation and even and above all, of the way in which societies respond to the socio-environmental challenges posed to them (ranging from techno-solutionism to radical political, social, economic and cultural changes). Added to this are issues of positioning internal to science, such as the existence of disciplines, the ideal of universality of knowledge or the power relationship between the natural sciences and the human and social sciences.

This thesis project, which wants to question the way in which the challenges posed by the global environmental crisis interact with scientific research today, is therefore part of the Science and Technology Studies field, which crosses historical and sociological analyses. Could sustainability science — which covers a wide range of themes and therefore engages many disciplines, approaches and methods — bring about transformations in scientific research, and if so how and in what direction? To answer this, we will study the emergence of this field of research in the United States in the 1990s, the international circulation of the concept and its structuring and recent development in France under the translations of science(s) de la durabilité/soutenabilité.

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