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Mission & values
The important relationship between universities and civic life is what informs our commitments and how we see and relate to the world. At the heart of PSL’s mission to educate and train future researchers is its vocation to help forge these societal bonds. As such, PSL is committed to being welcoming and to fostering futures, so that each and every individual is empowered to make choices and determine his or her own path.
Being welcoming means being committed to providing equal opportunity access to PSL, and ensuring that each and every individual at PSL finds optimal conditions for their personal development and the means for becoming a unique, valuable player within the greater collective of fellow students and researchers.
Fostering futures means being committed to providing fertile ground for inquiry and initiative, equipping each and every individual with the knowledge and skills to become advocates for an open society rich in achievement and forward-looking solutions.
Supporting access to premium education
With rich diversity in individual backgrounds, the collective reaps a wealth of cross-pollinating ideas and approaches, rich in exchange and sources of inspiration. PSL is committed to offering equal access to premium education regardless of individual backgrounds, financial resources, and geographical location. This is our focus as we strive to marshal all of the necessary means for providing equal access to our schools and institutes and to support the advancement of a diverse pool of talent throughout full paths of education and research.
We implement this commitment through initiatives to inform future students of our education programs, provide the keys to achieving our demanding requirements, and support future applicants as they prepare for entry into our education programs. Likewise, we forge partnerships with schools and put extensive thought into creating the best possible conditions for future students to join PSL.
PSL has signed a partnership agreement with the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris to house students in PSL’s Multidisciplinary Preparatory Class - Henri-IV (CPES). Under this agreement CPES students are housed in double rooms at the Honnorat residence of the CIUP (Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris), with scholarship students receiving priority. This commitment is part of CIUP’s policy to support diversity, implemented in 2001 with the “Equal opportunity” convention designed to promote broad access to world-class educational programs (more than 620 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds have benefitted, in partnership with major institutions). The aims of the convention were reaffirmed on April 19, 2012 with the signature of the Charte des Cordées de la Réussite.
Les Cordées de la Réussite (Roped together for success) is a program launched in 2008 by France’s Ministry of Higher Education to promote academic success by encouraging partnerships between institutions of higher education and middle and secondary schools in high-priority areas. At PSL, our participation in these programs and daylong events highlights our commitment to expanding access to a top-quality education.
Women comprise more than half of Europe’s doctoral students, but the percentage of women is sharply lower in research laboratories and, most notably, in executive management. PSL takes pride in the fact that one of our most illustrious Nobel Prize winners was a woman, Marie Curie, who won two Nobels – one for physics in 1903 and one for chemistry in 1911 – and that the first woman admitted to an engineering school in France matriculated at Chimie ParisTech in 1916.
Today, the proportion of women at PSL and in its doctoral school is rising each year: women made up 50% of Chimie ParisTech’s entering class of 2015, while 40% of ESPCI’s engineering students are women and 50% of our 3500 doctoral candidates are women. Since we established our CPES (Multidisciplinary Preparatory Class) undergraduate program in 2012, more than half of the students enrolled have been female.
In addition, among our governing bodies, the Curriculum and Research Councils are at near-parity. Six of our schools and institutions are now headed by women, comprising more than a quarter of our Council of Members, which up until a few years ago had only one woman member.
The share of female university professors and research directors, however, remains well below the percentage of female lecturers and researchers. In other words, there is still progress to be made. The work currently underway by the team of Eric Maurin (EHESS) and Fanny Landaud (PSE) to compare the academic trajectories of male and female students at all PSL institutions will help bring that progress within reach. The team is studying the academic guidance given to female secondary school students and their under-representation in science tracks at the university level. A thorough analysis of this study will help us draft an action plan destined to be shared with our colleagues facing similar problems, so that we can take further steps to promote gender equality.
Equal opportunity as educational commitment
Each and every PSL school and institute takes active measures to promote opportunities for student mobility, building bridges to excellence and fostering links that allow students to surpass social and cultural barriers throughout their full academic career. In 2018, PSL will implement an Equal Opportunity Committee comprised of representatives from all of our schools and institutes, to further deepen our commitments in this realm.
Université Paris-Dauphine has forged active partnerships with nearly 30 secondary schools in the Greater Paris region with a single aim: to recruit a more diverse pool of candidates for its first-year enrollment. More than 137 instructors have signed up for booster classes in key academic subjects so as to assist secondary school students in meeting admissions requirements. One in ten students we accept is a product of that booster program, which continues with personalized support during the student’s second year at university.
Moreover, in 2014 IPJ Dauphine became the first school of journalism to be awarded the Diversity Label by AFNOR, France’s certification body, for its commitment to promoting equal opportunity.
The Institut Curie has pledged its support to the EU-Life program that allows doctoral and post-doctoral students to pursue a career in Europe. The Institut Curie is also an active participant in the European Union’s LIBRA program (Leading Innovative Measures to Reach Gender Balance in Research Activities), designed to promote gender balance in executive research positions.
Each year at MINES ParisTech, secondary school students are invited to become student engineers for a morning. In addition to the opportunity to learn more the challenges of the future alongside instructor-researchers from a variety of engineering schools, the students get to take part in an orientation forum. Meanwhile, Cahier Vert organizes numerous activities designed to bring secondary school pupils from modest backgrounds in contact with MINES ParisTech students, and publishes an annual report to monitor its compliance with that commitment.
The Conservatoire has undertaken an ambitious campaign to make the institution more open and accessible to underserved communities, and is stepping up its efforts within school systems to help students learn more about schools for the arts.
Under the aegis of the Conservatoire and in partnership with the MC93 theater and the Conservatory in Bobigny, a preparatory class was established in 2015 for students competing for admission to France’s schools of dramatic arts. The class is specifically targeted to students who, for economic, social or cultural reasons, feel shut out from cultural venues or believe the Conservatoire is not intended for them, and provides free preparatory training for the competitive entrance examinations conducted by national drama schools. Thirteen students were recruited and received intensive training beginning in January 2016, under the direction of Razerka Ben Sadia-Lavant.
One graduate of the training course entered the Conservatoire in September 2016, while two others are now students at the Ecole du Théâtre National de Strasbourg.
Additional parterships are being developed with an array of institutions with the aim of promoting arts education at the secondary level and creating opportunities and pathways to the Conservatoire.
PSL’s five schools of the arts are taking part in the Artists Working in Schools instructional program, known as AIMS. Under a participatory agreement that was extended in 2016, seven young graduates of PSL’s schools for the arts, including the Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique (CNSAD), the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris (CNSMDP), the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (EnsAD), the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (Beaux-Arts de Paris) and the École Nationale Supérieure des Métiers de l’Image et du Son (La Fémis), can now acquire the skills to work in an educational setting while continuing to pursue their personal artistic projects.
Under the AIMS program, artists share their experience of an artistic project with a class of students throughout the school year, and also conduct research that culminates in a thesis. For the participating artist, the program qualifies as postgraduate work.
The AIMS program grew out of an initiative by the French government to promote arts and culture education and reflects a desire to encourage wider access to the arts among primary school students.
By helping artists and students share artistic ideas and experiences, the program enhances both the artistic projects that the participating artists conduct in the schools and the educational and intellectual value of the instruction they provide. PSL has obtained academic and financial support for this new educational program, which is consistent with its policy of developing innovative educational opportunities that draw on all of its member institutions.
Innovative teaching: Focus on the future
PSL encourages its faculty and researchers to develop innovative approaches to teaching.
In 2013, PSL launched its first call for proposals aimed at supporting teaching innovations at its member institutions. These calls for proposals are a vehicle for inspiring a steady stream of new teaching methods at PSL, while simultaneously fostering closer collaborative relationships across institutions through the development of new innovative, multidisciplinary, and original education programs. The program has gained significant momentum since its inception.
It has inspired multiple new initiatives since 2016, including major research programs, the launch of the IRIS strategic research initiatives, the creation of new Master’s programs (Digital Humanities, Materials Engineering, Chemistry of Life) and the founding of the unprecedented Paris Fashion School by PSL and the CEDRE European Center for Republican Studies. Collectively, these have expanded the array of educational opportunities available at PSL, providing new and innovative approaches to cross-disciplinary learning, alternatives that keep PSL always one step ahead in rising to the great challenges of today’s world and the future.
Three projects were funded in 2013 from among eight projects submitted, for a total amount of €172,600: the History and Philosophy of Science module incorporated into ENS’s Master’s programs in the sciences, the PISA Master’s program at ENS, and the Optics Practicum Platform at the Observatoire de Paris.
Five projects were funded in 2014 from among 11 projects submitted, for a total amount of €210,000: the Master’s programs in Energy and Science and Materials Engineering (Mines ParisTech/ESPCI/Chimie ParisTech), the MASH and Peace Studies Master’s degree programs (Université Paris-Dauphine), and the Acting and Directing curriculum (CNSAD).
As part of the 2015 SPIF call for proposals, thirty projects were submitted for a total funding budget of more than €1,200,000. As of 2015, every PSL institution has been involved in at least one of the submitted projects – a level of participation that reflects the ongoing success of the SPIF program.
Focus on educational innovation and equal opportunity:
Their names are Kahina, Ivo, Djigui and Samuel. They’re genuinely talented, as is evident from the short films they wrote and directed on a shoestring budget, thanks to boldness and energy to spare. But because of their social or regional background, they never dreamed they could be admitted to a top-tier educational program. Nonetheless, on April 7, 2015, they began their studies at La Fémis thanks to La Résidence, a new full-time instructional program lasting 10 months and designed for young directors ages 23 to 30, with no previous degree required.
A socially-conscious student body
Innovative teaching, knowledge dissemination, social responsibility, dialogue with society’s actors and decision-makers... These are all areas in which PSL invests and provides financial support, as well as areas in which our more than 100 student organizations provide active leadership.
We highlight a few of these associations here. To read more about the initiatives that PSL supports, take a look at our Campus Life section. For a full list, visit the website of the PSL Student Union, PSL’s umbrella organization for all student organizations. To learn more about upcoming calls for proposals of student initiatives, visit our applications platform.
PSL marshals the necessary resources to actively support socially-conscious initiatives, ideas and projects that will strengthen bonds and build our future. We are proud of our students’ initiatives, proud of all that they do.