PSL from A to Z

A as in Arts

Conservatoire National d’Art Dramatique, Conservatoire de Musique et de Danse de Paris, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, La Fémis: Paris Sciences & Lettres is host to an extraordinary group of schools in the creative arts. A genuine collective treasure, these schools find in PSL a forum for dialogue amongst themselves as well as with other member institutions. Open House weeks, the SACRe doctorate program, and PSL-ITI design courses are just a few examples of these unique collaborative relationships.  

B as in Bergson

Philosopher, alumnus of the École Normale Supérieure, and author of An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness, Henri Bergson is also one of Paris Sciences & Lettres 26 Nobel Laureates:
Nobel Prize in Physics
Pierre Curie (1903), Marie Curie (1903), Gabriel Lippmann (1908), Jean Perrin (1926), Alfred Kastler (1966), Louis Néel (1970), Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (1991), Georges Charpak (1992), Claude Cohen Tannoudji (1997), Albert Fert (2007) and Serge Haroche (2012).
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Marie Curie (1911), Paul Sabatier (1912), Irène Joliot-Curie (1935), Frédéric Joliot (1935), Jean-Marie Lehn (1987)
Nobel Prize in Literature
Romain Rolland (1915), Henri Bergson (1927), Jean-Paul Sartre (1964)
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Charles Nicolle (1928), François Jacob (1965), Jacques Monod (1965), Jean Dausset (1980)
Nobel Prize in Economics
Gérard Debreu (1983), Maurice Allais (1988), Jean Tirole (2014)

C as in Choir and Orchestra

Following the example of the world’s greatest universities, Paris Sciences & Lettres created its own Symphony Orchestra and Choir, PSL-OC. Open to all PSL students, faculty and staff, it boasts 130 musicians and choir members. Its repertoire is reflective of Paris Sciences & Lettres itself: eclectic, innovative and original - performing a diverse array of musical styles, from the great classics to forgotten and contemporary composers, jazz, gospel and musicals.  

The performance season of PSL’s Orchestra and Choir includes 5 different programs and features several renowned soloists: Karine Deshays (mezzo-soprano), Geneviève Laurenceau (violinist and soloist from the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse), Raphael Merlin (cellist and member of the Quatuor Ebène quartet), and Raphael Imbert (jazz saxophonist), among others.

In addition to holding these concerts in Paris, PSL-OC also goes on international tour each year (China, Israel, India) and performs with the choirs and orchestras of international universities associated through partnerships with PSL, such as the Robinson College Chapel Choir of the University of Cambridge.  

Johan Farjot is the artistic and musical director of the PSL Orchestra and Choir. A team of six full-time professionals work alongside Mr. Farjot, providing musical support and allowing the PSL-OC to reach its full, highest-quality potential. Arnaud Thorette is orchestra’s concertmaster (first violin).

D as in Diversity

Fully aware that the traditional meritocracy that carried them was becoming increasingly socially biased, Paris Sciences & Lettres schools took the initiative to propose social inclusiveness measures in their programs particularly at the undergraduate level, within the CPES Multidisciplinary Preparatory Classes, which now host scholarship students as a majority, as well as within the License-level programs at Université Paris-Dauphine.

Paris Sciences & Lettres schools have also broadened admissions requirements (competitive exams through preparatory classes, university transfers, international admissions) and financial aid opportunities.

E as in Engaged Students

Paris Sciences & Lettres is home to 20,000 students from 120 different countries.  
Our campus provides them with an ideal work environment for their studies, with access to libraries, conferences, museums, and all that Paris itself has to offer in the culture and the arts.
Year in and year out, Paris Sciences & Lettres believes in its students’ engagement and supports their cultural and athletic activities and involvement in student associations. Sustainable development, accessibility, and equal opportunity are among the initiatives advanced by the more than 150 projects we have funded to date.  
The PSL Student Union serves as an umbrella organization for the combined student councils of Paris Sciences & Lettres institutions.

F as in Formative

Paris Sciences & Lettres ambition is to provide formative training to the students of today’s society and the future. Paris Sciences & Lettres educates young adults who will be equipped to adapt to significant changes in the professional landscape. With research-based teaching and focus on intellectual acumen, curiosity and critical thinking, PSL opens doors for students to become innovators, entrepreneurs, experts, executives and designers of rigorous intellect, who are sensitive to the importance of culture, aware of their individual and collective social responsibility, and open to the opportunities of a globalized world.

G as in (Saint) Geneviève Montagne

The historic center of Paris Sciences & Lettres campus is named after this patron saint of Paris. It was on this historic hill that stood the Saints Apôtres (Holy Apostles) Monastery, where Saint Genevieve so often reflected in prayer. Today’s Rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève traces the path she used to take to the monastery.

The monastery itself was replaced with an abbey, which was subsequently replaced with the Church of Sainte-Geneviève built by Louis XV in 1744. Upon Mirabeau’s death on April 2, 1791, France’s National Assembly moved to place the tombs of France’s greatest thinkers in a dedicated necropolis, much like Westminster Abbey. It was at this time that the Church of Sainte-Geneviève became the Panthéon.

Located on the south slope of the Hill, PSL’s schools are watched over by the great men and women, some of whom were educated in their halls, who now rest at the top of the Rue d’Ulm: Pierre & Marie Curie, Germaine Tillion, Henri Bergson, Paul Painlevé, Jean Jaurès, Paul Langevin..

H as in History

Founded in 2011, Paris Sciences & Lettres is a young institution. Its origins reach far into the past, however, to back when its constituent, centuries-old institutions were born: Collège de France in 1530, Observatoire de Paris in 1667, Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in 1682, École des Mines de Paris in 1783, Ecole Normale Supérieure in 1794, etc.

Over the centuries, and given their close geographic proximity, these institutions developed formidable scientific relationships based on their shared values. That they now find a common home within Paris Sciences & Lettres is the culmination of a longstanding scientific, artistic and cultural undertaking, an adventure that continues each day to be written into history.

I as in Interdisciplinary

The exceptional diversity of its institutions make Paris Sciences & Lettres an ideal environment for the pursuit of new interdisciplinary research. It has teams, for example, studying the impact that globalized writing and the digital revolution are having on the civilization of the written word (IRIS Scripta), and taking an integrated approach to design by studying not only to the products of design, but also the cognitive resources triggered by creative processes, recognition, and social frameworks (IRIS Création, Cognition, Société).

J as in Joliot-Curie

It was long believed that Marie Curie, dual Nobel Laureate, was a lone figure in science. And yet, she was surrounded by a multitude of distinguished female scientists, starting with her own daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, 1935 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Many of Paris Sciences & Lettres former female students and professors have built illustrious careers in a variety of disciplines: Germaine Tillion (ethnologist, EPHE), Jacqueline de Romilly (Hellenist, ENS, Collège de France), Isabelle Huppert (CNSAD, stage and film actress), Simone Weil (ENS, philosopher), Louise Bourgeois (ENSBA, visual artist), Assia Djebar (ENS, author), Lili & Nadia Boulanger (CNSMDP, composers), to name a few.

Today, several women are at the helm at Paris Sciences & Lettres running its schools, laboratories and research centers.

K as in Kant

“Dare to know” is Paris Sciences & Lettres motto, in reference to both Horace, to honor the Classics tradition carried by several PSL schools, as well as to Emmanuel Kant and his foundational text “What is Enlightenment?” that reflects the still-relevant ideal of emancipating oneself through knowledge. Paris Sciences & Lettres students, beyond simply acquiring technical and professional skills, receive a true education of the mind.

L as in Labex

To place France at the forefront of innovation, the French government decided to invest 47 billion euros in providing substantial equipment resources to research centers with international visibility--to put them on a level playing field with their counterparts abroad, to attract researchers and professors of international renown, and to capstone a multifaceted policy of high-level research, education and intellectual property support.
Paris Sciences & Lettres is home to 13 Labex projects, spanning the full set of disciplines.

M as in Museums

Paris Sciences & Lettres is host to six very different museums that are collectively reflective of the scientific and artistic heritage of its centuries-old institutions.  
They are home to priceless treasures of human ingenuity: 25,000 drawings of the great masters (Cabinet des Dessins of the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts), 100,000 samples of rock, minerals, meteorites and gemstones (Musée de Minéralogie at MINES ParisTech), a thousand solar system observation instruments, including a unique set dating from the 16th century (Observatoire de Paris), instruments used by Pierre and Marie Curie (Pierre-Gilles-de-Gennes Science Center), and spaces dedicated to the commemoration of great scientists, such as the Curie and Pasteur museums.  
This heritage truly belongs to all, and our museums are actively engaged in outreach programs with schools (Art History 101 program between the ENSBA and nine schools located in underprivileged areas), businesses, journalists, teachers and students--who are invited to come learn, enhance their research, build new collaborative partnerships, meet with the public, and test their ideas for the future, as with our living labs.

N as in Never Eat Alone

Created at PSL-LAB, Paris Sciences & Lettres student entrepreneurship incubator, Never Eat Alone is an app that allows users in just a few clicks to plan a lunch or coffee break with PSL friends and colleagues.

Never Eat Alone came out of the PSL-Pépite program, which grants PSL students and recent alumni the status of student entrepreneur and the opportunity to build their own start-up.

To date, 48 companies have been created through this program.

O as in OCAV

The question of how life appears and whether or not there are life forms out in the universe has gone from the speculative to falling within the so-called “hard” sciences.

This revolution affects all of the sciences, from astronomy and astrophysics to physical chemistry and biology. It calls into question our views of what separates the living from the non-living, and how we represent these.

OCAV, the “Origines et Conditions d’Apparition de la Vie” (Origins and Conditions for the Appearance of Life) project, is sponsored by the Observatoire de Paris, the Collège de France, EHESS, ENS, the Institut Curie, CNRS and INSERM and is emblematic of the major Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Initiatives (IRIS) Paris Sciences & Lettres has launched.

P as in President

Alain Fuchs, a professor at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC), has served as President of the CNRS since January 2010. His term of office was renewed in February 2014.

A chemical engineer by training, he has devoted his research work to the modeling and molecular simulation of confined fluids. Alain Fuchs is the founder of the Laboratory of Physical Chemistry (LCP – CNRS/Université Paris Sud), which he also headed until 2006. From 2006 to 2010, he was director of Chimie ParisTech (École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Paris).

A Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, Alain Fuchs is also an officer of France's National Order of Merit, a fellow of the UK Royal Society of Chemistry and a member of the Academia Europaea. He holds an honorary doctorate from the Université du Québec in Montréeal (Canada) and has presided over the French National Alliance for the Humanities and Social Sciences (Athena) since December 2014.

 

Q as in Quadrature of the Circle

The quadrature, or squaring, of the circle, that great conundrum of mathematics and one of the three great unsolved problems of the ancients, is at the heart of Leonardo da Vinci’s representation of the Vitruvian Man.

Paris Sciences & Lettres chose this emblem of the longstanding traditions of humanism and rationalism for its logo, which also incorporates the universal symbol of the star.

R as in Research

With 4,500 researchers and 181 laboratories spanning all areas of science and design, Paris Sciences & Lettres boasts the same level of scientific vigor as the world’s top universities. 

Strengthening the University’s core disciplines and building new interrelated areas of research are the two pillars of PSL’s strategy aimed at increasing collaboration between its institutions’ and research centers’ teams.

Since 2012, our researchers have received multiple distinctions: 65 new ERC awards, 40 IUF awards, and 134 prizes.

S as in Scholarship

A great university is both guardian of the cumulative scholarship of preceding generations and producer of new ideas. Its vocations include disseminating this knowledge to the scientific community and the public at large. 

PSL-Explore is the showcase of this collective knowledge, offering conferences, MOOC, virtual exhibits, and access to the collections of Paris Sciences & Lettres 95 libraries and museums – 4.5 million manuscripts, books, digitized documents, articles, archives, scores, and audio and video recordings.

22 million courses and conferences have been downloaded since 2012.

The university is also engaged in the planning of large-scale cultural and scientific events, including exhibits and theme nights (philosophy, science, etc.) on campus in Paris as well as abroad in London, New York and Berlin.

T as in Tocharian

Throughout their collective history, Paris Sciences & Lettres member institutions such as EPHE, ENC and the Collège de France have made key contributions in certain rare areas of study, such as Egyptology, Assyriology, and the fundamental disciplines of the written word, such as codicology, paleography and diplomatics. They also became specialists in certain very rare languages of which they are the sole guardians, such as Elamite, the Middle Iranian languages, and...Tocharian.

Paris Sciences & Lettres offers an unparalleled concentration of expertise, with some hundred highly specialized chairs in these disciplines.

U as in Research University

At its founding, PSL appropriated the title of “PSL Research University,” thereby defining itself as a university in the most international sense of the term. What is the distinction? A Research University is:
•    Multidisciplinary, not specialized in just one major area of study such as science or social science.
•    A university of average size. With 20,000 students and 4,500 researchers, PSL did not chose to focus attention on its strength in numbers; rather, its strengths in science are comparable to the very best international universities outside France. This choice draws from the desire to foster interdisciplinary synergy and linkages in research as well as education.
•    A university aimed primarily at research, both basic and applied. Indeed, there is not one area of activity free from the influence of the research being conducted in PSL laboratories. It’s everywhere, from the pedagogical model underlying all teaching at the university, to the joint research projects being carried out among our schools.
•    A university that chooses its students. PSL’s institutions are explicitly selective, but this selectivity is not an end in itself, nor an identifying feature of the schools. Rather, it is simply a method for identifying the most qualified candidates who will be able to draw full benefit from the education they are offered, regardless of where they come from or the academic path that has brought them to this point.

A key objective at PSL is to transform the results of its research teams into powerful economic drivers. Boasting 2 incubators, 3 coworking spaces and 8 Fablabs and living labs, PSL has seen the creation of 137 start-ups since its founding and files an average of 100 patents per year.

V as in Valorisation

A key objective at PSL is to transform the results of its research teams into powerful economic drivers. Boasting 2 incubators, 3 coworking spaces and 8 fab labs and living labs, PSL has seen the creation of 117 startups since its founding and files an average of 100 patents per year.

W as in Womines PSL

WoMines PSL is a student association that promotes gender equality at PSL. The association works to bolster gender diversity through meet-ups, exchanges and discussions focused on gender biases and related topics of debate. Its work is informed by existing professional associations, networks and other organizations that focus on the same goals.

WoMines PSL is a shining example of the types of student initiatives that Paris Sciences & Lettres supports each year (see Engaged Students) and is reflective of our collective commitment to gender equality (see Joliot-Curie).

X as in X-Tend

X-Tend is Paris Sciences & Lettres online student mobility platform. Each and every PSL University student can use the platform to access a wide variety of courses offered by PSL schools.

X-tend is one of the many measures Paris Sciences & Lettres has taken to encourage students to take full advantage of the university’s many institutions, and to move between them. Other measures include cross-institutional education programs (CPES Multidisciplinary Preparatory Classes, SACRe, ITI, new Master’s degree programs), dual-degree agreements (between MINES ParisTech and ESPCI Paris, for example), Open House week exchanges between the arts and engineering schools, joint language courses, and access to specific PSL University courses outside one’s host institution.

Our objective is for every Paris Sciences & Lettres student to have the opportunity to acquire 15% of their ECTS at a PSL institution outside their home school.

Y as in Yoccoz

The mathematician Jean-Christophe Yoccoz (1957-2016) is one of Paris Sciences & Lettres 10 Fields Medalists, along with Laurent Schwartz (1950), Jean-Pierre Serre (1954), René Thom (1958), Alain Connes (1982), Pierre-Louis Lyons (1994), Laurent Lafforgue (2002), Wendelin Werner (2006), Cédric Villani (2010) and Ngo Bao Chau (2010). All of these medalists are alumni of the École Normale Supérieure, and some are current or former professors of Université Paris-Dauphine and Collège de France.

Z as in Zumba

One of the many activities on offer through Paris Sciences & Lettres Athletics Association. Mens sana in corpore sano. PSL forms the body as well as the mind! With more than 30 disciplines offered to students, faculty and staff, PSL’s Athletics Association promotes the practice of all types of physical and athletic activities, and represents PSL in all university competitions.