“TEACHING IS THE ESSENTIAL COMPLEMENT TO RESEARCH”

Philippe Bezès, researcher at Sciences Po, talks about the job of an academic.

What led you to a career in research?

Obviously it was the result of a series of experiences; you're not born an academic, you become one. Moreover, it requires an effort to remain a "researcher" throughout your career. I have always loved reading the humanities and social sciences. I have also always enjoyed writing. Those are the basics. However, the first part of my higher education—a business school course—did not point me toward an academic career. It was there that I learned I wasn't made to work in business. But I was lucky enough to meet an iconoclastic professor, Jean-Gustave Padioleau, who introduced me to the social sciences. In parallel, I was dipping into lots of things and I had started on a course in political philosophy. Again, professors such as Etienne Balibar and Michel Senellart had a deep effect on me. I went on to take the Sciences Po graduate programme in the sociology of organised action, which gave me a leg up into empirical research.

Which aspects of your job as an academic researcher came as a surprise?

There are many things you don't expect because the job of an academic is not very formalised. The first surprise for a young academic is the immense independence and intellectual freedom they have. But you quickly discover that this inestimable chance is also a responsibility and requires a lot of self-discipline. Over the years, the other surprise comes from the sheer diversity of activities involved. In any given week, you might prepare a course, teach, do fieldwork, supervise a collective project, participate in a board of examiners for a PhD, do some serious reading, write an article, review a colleague's work, mark exams, edit a journal, moderate a debate or seminar, and take part in a symposium or a meeting of experts. You might also head up a laboratory, coordinate a degree programme and, like everyone else, take care of administrative tasks.

Another thing I discovered was that this job meant travelling, whether for research in the field or to participate in academic events that enable fascinating encounters and exchanges with colleagues. It's one side of the job that I didn't expect and which adds to its appeal. However, juggling all these activities at once isn't easy and one or other of them can suffer. That's the delicate balancing act of the post-modern condition of academics, which increasingly threatens their independence and their research time. Cheerful willing servitude can turn into unwanted servitude and burnout. In the midst of all these activities, you have to know how to keep on track.  

How do you relate your research and your teaching?

Teaching is the natural—or rather essential—complement to research. First of all because it forces you to constantly reinforce and update your knowledge, and to set out your ideas clearly in an educational form. It means you have to take lateral approaches to adapt to different groups of students and find different ways of presenting your research and findings. Teaching is also enriching and stimulating because it’s nourished by students' questions, ideas, judgments and criticisms. All in all, teaching is just as demanding as research. And again, you have to find a balance.

Related link

Learn more about the Sciences Po Doctoral School

Learn more about research at Sciences Po

2017 Pre-College Programme

2017 Pre-College Programme

From 9-23 July 2017, the Sciences Po Summer School welcomed its first-ever cohort of secondary students for its inaugural Pre-College Programme. 

More
Financial Aid for Your Housing

Financial Aid for Your Housing

Both French and international students can receive financial aid from the CAF (Caisse d'Allocations Familiales) for their housing. Students can receive this benefit should they choose to rent an apartment (furnished or unfurnished), stay in a student residence or have another type of valid, legal lease. Moreover, the rental agreement must be made out in the student’s name and they cannot be a relative of the property owner.

More
Ethnography & Photography: An Uneasy Relationship

Ethnography & Photography: An Uneasy Relationship

From June 26-28, Sciences Po hosted the International Asian Studies Conference.  For the occasion, researchers working in various countries around Asia, from Pakistan to China to Laos, shared images that they had taken while conducting their fieldwork. 

More
Prepare for your move to France

Prepare for your move to France

Finding accommodation is a key step to take care of before arriving at Sciences Po. Given the urban locations of each of the seven Sciences Po campuses, various options are available. Below are general descriptions of the options available, as well as links to information specific to each campus. It is recommended that students act swiftly and find a place to stay well in advance of their arrival. 

More
“Never lose your curiosity, or you will become cynical”

“Never lose your curiosity, or you will become cynical”

On Saturday, July 1st, the Sciences Po graduation ceremony took place at the Maison de la Radio in Paris. Arancha González, executive director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), a subsidiary body of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization (WTO), was one of the guest speakers.

More
“judge all people through the lens of a dance party”

“judge all people through the lens of a dance party”

On Friday, June 30th, graduation ceremonies took place for the Sciences Po Urban School and the School of Public Affairs at the Maison de la Radio in Paris. William Cox, who earned a Master’s degree from the Urban School, was named a graduate of honour and gave a speech at the ceremony. 
 
More

Congratulations to our 2017 graduates!

Congratulations to our 2017 graduates!

The Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, a former Prime Minister, a data scientist, a Member of Parliament, and, above all, graduates following extraordinary paths...
On Friday 30 June and Saturday 1 July 2017, in the main auditorium of the Maison de la Radio in Paris and in the presence of several prestigious guests, Sciences Po celebrated the graduation of 2,404 students from the 2017 cohort. Best of video.

More
Graduation Day 2017: Watch the ceremonies

Graduation Day 2017: Watch the ceremonies

Celebrate. Share. Inspire. Those were the watchwords for the graduation ceremonies that were held at the Maison de Radio France in Paris on Friday, 30 June and Saturday, 1 July, for more than 1,800 graduating students and their families. Watch the ceremonies on our Livestream channel

More