Three main activities
- Research: studies conducted in multidisciplinary teams, combining the social sciences (sociology, political science, law, history, and economics) and IMT’s fields of expertise (computer science, mathematics, engineering, management science, and philosophy).
- Teaching: courses common to both institutions, based around the Master in Innovation and Digital Transformation, a programme resulting from the Sciences Po-IMT partnership launched in 2017.
- Knowledge dissemination: through various types of publication—academic (journals with A and B rankings), professional (Observatoire de la vie connectée) and for a general audience (The Conversation, HBR, etc.); events (major annual conference, Plural Futures lecture series, and public debates); and the creation of a think tank with other partners (under discussion).
The Chair is run jointly by Sciences Po and IMT Business School, and coordinated by the Institut Louis Bachelier and the Fondation du Risque. This coordination confers several advantages, including the possibility of applying for Chair of Excellence status.
Observations and issues
The Chair’s work stems from the following observations:
- The digital explosion is not only a technological revolution; it implies the radical transformation of our societies.
- Technology- and data-led innovation not only impacts all sectors of the economy; it impacts the political and civic spheres, social relationships, and the very definition of the individual.
- The phenomenon is global; its impact is therefore systemic.
- The digital revolution prompts many societal debates, which are coloured by both positive perceptions (freedom of expression, innovation, access, etc.) and negative perceptions (opacity, manipulation of public opinion, surveillance, dehumanisation, etc).
These observations give rise to the following questions:
- How can we reconcile technological innovation and a sustainable society?
- How can we put meaning back into technology so that it offers real added value while minimising risks for individuals?
- How can we develop an optimistic vision of the technologies of the future?
- Which model should Europe develop to ensure respect for individual freedom, personal data, and democracy, as an alternative to the American and Chinese models?
- How can an ecosystem of businesses, start-ups and citizens committed to this new model be formed?
The Chair takes inspiration from and is in phase with similar programmes at Harvard University (The Future Society), MIT (Future of Life), New York University (Data & Society), Oxford University (Future of Humanity Institute), and Silicon Valley (Center for Humane Technology).
Priority research themes
- Theme 1: Measures for responsible digital innovation
- What are the indicators of responsible innovation?
- Digital corporate social responsibility
- Theme 2: How can responsible technologies be developed by design?
- Trust mechanisms
- Explainability of technologies, transparency, visualisation
- Theme 3: Reinventing futures
- What will the society of tomorrow look like in a digital world?
- How can the principles of equality be preserved in a connected world?
- Theme 4: Governance and acceptability of technologies
- What are the levels and mechanisms of governance (Europe, Nation, Enterprise)?
- What impact does governance have on the acceptability and ownership of technologies?
These research themes will be applied to three areas in particular:
The Chair’s activities will build on collaboration with academics from universities abroad. Partnerships are envisaged with New York University (Data & Society), Harvard University (The Future Society), MIT (The Future of Life), and the University of Tokyo.
Course offerings will be based largely on the Master in Innovation and Digital Transformation, which results from a Sciences Po – IMT partnership.
This Master’s programme aims to train innovation professionals by bringing out their creative and reflexive potential, and is based on four key elements: digital humanities to understand the world around us, entrepreneurial culture to create economic value, technological culture to master the technical challenges of digital transformation, and design methodologies to try out potential realities through innovation.
The programme draws on input from the Sciences Po Medialab, a leading research centre in the field of digital humanities. Medialab’s expertise in digital practices, algorithms, and data (big data and smart data), its theoretical contribution (social theory, media studies), and its educational methodologies (controversy mapping in particular) contribute substantially to the quality of the programme.
Educational innovation is also a key feature of the programme, giving soft skills and expertise a high priority. Students benefit from experiential learning and work with real-world issues in creative workshops. Telecom ParisTech’s Studio Design is used as a shared based for creation and innovation.