LIEPP internship on interdisciplinary environmental research

LIEPP internship on interdisciplinary environmental research

  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

Sophia Noel is a third year student in the Sciences Po college universitaire, majoring in economy and society. She will begin her master’s in sociology at the Sciences Po School of Research in fall 2022. During the spring semester 2022, she has been working as a research intern at LIEPP, with the Environmental research group. 

What has led you to take an internship at LIEPP?

Throughout my time at Sciences Po, I have found purpose in substantial research projects such as the Grand Ecrit. Given my interest in research, enrolling in the School of Research following my bachelor was a clear choice. When I learned about the research initiation internship offered to 3rd year students, I saw it as an opportunity to begin learning about research at Sciences Po before I even began my Master's. I chose to apply to LIEPP specifically because of its focus on interdisciplinary thinking. Before my internship, I had spent a semester at UCL’s Arts and Sciences department which offers classes on interdisciplinary themes. This, together with the pluridisciplinary foundation I recieved at the college universitaire, has thoroughly convinced me on the value of interdisciplinary research. The project I am part of at LIEPP not only cuts across the social sciences, but environmental and planetary science too. Prior to enrolling at Sciences Po, I had a strong interest in earth sciences. Though I am quite happy with my decision to pursue sociology, it has been exciting to go beyond what I typically study and exercise different mental muscles.

What projects have you been involved in?

I am an intern on the Environmental research group, which is headed by Prof. Charlotte Halpern. For the first few months of the internship, I was tasked with forming an exploratory literature review for the CAPin GHG project. This project studies the interaction between urban greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories, policymakers, and other stakeholders. I read and summarized 50+ books and articles on the subject, and produced a summary regarding the methodology of GHG inventories and state of the literature concerning their study. I have enjoyed researching the politics of these inventories, which are the basis for any mitigation policy in cities across the world. I am looking forward to the next stages of the project, which will include field research regarding how the case study cities of Paris, Barcelona, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore adopt and react to inventories.

More recently, I have had the opportunity to support a panel at Sciences Po which will discuss the role of cities in adapting to climate change. To support this event, I read and summarized the context and key findings of the recent IPCC report’s chapter on cities. The chapter spotlights the main challenges cities face in adapting to climate change, including knowledge silos and policy versus implementation gaps.

What is it like to work in a research laboratory?

Even as an intern, I have been warmly integrated in life at LIEPP. I have had the pleasure of attending several methodological seminars, the subjects of which are wide ranging. I have attended events on the economics of medical research, and international foreign aid networks. Because of LIEPP's interdisciplinary structure, there are students and researchers from various disciplinary backgrounds and universities. This makes for a very dynamic intellectual environment. In a few months, I have learned much about the subject of my project, as well as subjects not immediately related but stimulating nonetheless. Regarding my specific project, I have been really happy with the substantiveness of my assignments and the collegiality of my supervisors. This is what has made this internship such a worthwhile experience for me.

How has this internship informed your professional project?

This internship has strongly affirmed my choice to enroll in the School of Research this fall. I have been happy with the intellectual challenges of research, and I am looking forward to further developing my knowledge through the master. This internship has also created an ambition in me to pursue a PhD one day. Furthermore, my work in the environmental research group has emphasized to me the absolute importance of climate change as an issue. Climate change will add, and already is adding, a layer of complexity to all problems studied by social scientists: health, the future of work, migration, inequalities, the list continues. Social scientists have a huge responsibility to absorb what environmental scientists are saying about the planetary realities and explain what this means for human societies. Whether or not warming is kept under 1.5 C, societies will have to cope with dramatic changes: either through a reconstruction of our economic system to stay under 1.5 C, or unfathomable environmental changes if we don’t. The risks of each scenario are unequally distributed through society, and the same level of energy that has gone towards understanding the heterogeneous social effects of globalization and COVID-19 needs to go towards climate change.

Interview realized on 27/04/2022

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