Developing digital research
Sciences Po’s educational approach is to provide students with an education that encourages free thinking and develops open and agile minds capable of both understanding the world and transforming it. Over the last decade, Sciences Po has developed numerous teaching and research initiatives centred on the issue of digital transformation. The thinking around digital enabled by this research encourages students to develop a critical perspective and consider all aspects of this ongoing transformation. Several projects are in the pipeline for the next four years.
The Sciences Po’s tenth research centre was established in 2009 to help the social sciences and humanities take full advantage of the huge amount of data made available by digitisation. Closely associating approaches from design and computer science, the Medialab seeks to design techniques for exploring digitized worlds, the circulation of information, the social, cultural and political aspects of digital environments, the new forms of representation resulting from data and digital techniques, and the reorganization of power and assets in the digital economy.
Among the ongoing research projects are:
- State of the Art: a research project which uses the National Collection of Contemporary Art (Fonds national d’art contemporain, FNAC) database, organised by the National Centre for Visual Art (Centre national des arts plastiques, CNAP) to evaluate the impacts of state interventions on the trajectory of works of art and the reputation of artists.
- Algoglitch: the Medialab set up Algoglitch after a request from the National Digital Council for the “development of methodological tools and resources to improve the reporting of problems encountered by digital platform users”. Algoglitch is an exploratory research project whose objective is to define how algorithms become a social and political issue debated in the public arena.
- The circulation of information and digital public space: this tool for visualising data gathered from articles disseminated by 400 French media outlets and from the circulation of articles on Twitter has been developed by the Medialab in conjunction with the Sciences Po School of Journalism, MIT, and the Berckman Center at Harvard. It is a large-scale project that aims to map the digital public space and observe how information is structured, how it circulates, and the different ways in which it is influenced. In the current era of “fake news”, this project attempts an overall analysis of the new modes of production of and access to information by examining questions of political polarisation, quality of information and the “information bubbles” that different groups inhabit.
The Centre for socio-political data (CDSP)
This centre was created to improve the availability of data that has been documented and validated by the scientific community to researchers and wider audiences. As such, the CDSP aims to meet the needs of the social science community in terms of data access, data production and the development of methodologies in the social sciences. Among the CDSP’s projects is the DIME-SHS EquipEx (Excellence Facility for Survey Data Infrastructures and Methods in the Humanities and Social Sciences), which offers researchers tools for the production or reuse of social science data and research materials. Its objective is to collect, enhance and disseminate qualitative surveys, quantitative datasets and web-based research materials. This facility, led by the CDSP at Sciences Po, places methodological expertise and the new technological possibilities of digital and the internet at the heart of the project.
Integrating digital into our teaching and learning
Digital technology is not only a commodity; it is also a vector for transforming education and, more generally, the university. Education must be able to draw on a variety of suitable pedagogical and digital tools. The service offer available to the Sciences Po communities needs to meet growing demands, in line with the best international standards, through a digital campus.
The objective is to create:
- new innovation-oriented courses such as the Innovation and Digital Transformation Master’s degree from the School of Management and Innovation.
- innovation labs and programmes in the main schools, e.g. the Urban Lab at the Urban School, the School of Management and Innovation’s “Great Transition” programme.
- new economic models closely linked to the EdTech ecosystem thanks to the recent creation of the Digital Experimentation Centre (CEN), which is spearheading educational and digital transformation.
The Digital Experimentation Centre
This centre is home to a team of 25 people and is structured around three key areas: digital audio-visual, pedagogical and digital engineering, and the Mapping Workshop. A cross-disciplinary research and development cell is responsible for:
- undertaking technological and pedagogical monitoring in order to identify best practices and key innovations in terms of pedagogy, the impact of technologies, and the transformation of physical and virtual learning and collaborative work spaces
- experimenting and prototyping new technological devices and environments and validating their relevance in teaching, learning and research contexts
- building an educational innovation ecosystem with the EdTech start-ups and companies in conjunction with Sciences Po’s research and entrepreneurship.
1, Saint-Thomas: a campus at the heart of the digital transformation
Integrating digital into campus life, providing our students, staff, teachers and researchers with the conditions for working and studying that meet the highest international standards:
- a state-of-the-art IT system that is smart, agile, and proactive, and which integrates digital tools and methods that complement projects in the social sciences
- new digital services for the Sciences Po community, such as the creation of a social network to enhance campus life and the development of a smartphone app for the Sciences Po community.
Adapting spaces to new uses through the development of areas that foster collective activities and digital creation, and places that act as a crossroads for knowledge, cultures, society and the entrepreneurial spirit, blending the real and the virtual.
The Innovation Pavilion
Located at the heart of the new Sciences Po campus on the historic 1, Saint-Thomas site, the Innovation Pavilion will be a focal point for research, learning and the analysis of contemporary issues.
The Pavilion’s immediate surroundings will feature spaces for educational innovation (a LearningLab, areas for collaboration and experimentation, and a library), digital transformation and data research centres (the Medialab, the CDSP) and spaces for hosting conferences, hackathons, BarCamps, situation simulation exercises, etc.
Located on the new 1, Saint-Thomas site, the Digital Experimentation Centre will set up a shared innovation platform for research and training in methods of analysis and exploration of digital data (statistics, modelling, visualisation).
At the adjacent 13 rue de l’Université site, the Digital Experimentation Centre will open a LearningLab, a laboratory for pedagogical and digital innovation which will offer the entire Sciences Po teaching and research community a platform for experimentation and support in three areas: pedagogies and active working methods; the impact of technologies on these methods; and the role that technology-enhanced physical spaces have to play.