The interdisciplinary workshop on environmental research (AIRE)

The interdisciplinary workshop on environmental research (AIRE)

The interdisciplinary workshop on environmental research (Atelier Interdisciplinaire de Recherches sur l’Environnnement; AIRE) was formed at Sciences Po with support of the Research division in 2018.
Coordinated by Joost de Moor, Assistant Professor at Sciences Po’s Center for European Studies and Comparative politics (CEE), it aims to bring together the growing community of scholars working on environmental topics at Sciences Po in an interdisciplinary dialogue. AIRE’s coordination is supported by a steering committee (Meriem Hamdi-Cherif (OFCE), Guillaume Lachenal (médialab) and Bernard Reber (CEVIPOF) and a ‘chargée de projet’ (Marie Le Carrer).

The complexity of environmental problems demands interdisciplinary approaches, which AIRE seeks to promote through events of various formats, as well as by presenting itself as a meeting space, an incubator and a first point of contact. It is a place where new environmental colleagues, long time-colleagues who are turning toward environmental research, and those from outside Sciences Po can turn for an overview of, and access to, Sciences Po’s environmental research community and what it does.

AIRE is structured along three thematic streams and one general stream. Thematic streams run for various durations, and while they aim to bring thematic continuity to our discussions for at least several semesters, there is always room for innovation and new streams. Currently, three streams are active:

The thematic and general streams organize main seminars on the second Thursday of most months, from 14:45 to 16:45. In addition, each stream organizes smaller events at various moments.

2023-2024 general seminar slots

The ecological conversion of the French. Contradictions and divisions [Session in french]

With Philippe Coulangeon (Research director CNRS, CRIS, Sciences Po) and Maël Ginsburger (Post-doctoral fellow CRESPPA-LabTop CNRS / CRIS, Sciences Po)

En se fondant sur deux vagues d’enquêtes menées en population générale dans le cadre du panel ELIPSS en 2017 et 2023, nous nous intéressons aux dimensions sociales et politiques de la conversion écologique des modes de vie. L’analyse des données de ces deux vagues d’enquête souligne la diffusion large mais inégale des préoccupations environnementales, et montre que la prise de conscience des enjeux ne s’accompagne pas nécessairement de l’adoption de pratiques orientées vers la sobriété et la préservation de l’environnement.

Quatre profils ressortent de cette articulation problématique des attitudes et des pratiques : "consumérisme assumé", "éco-consumérisme", "éco-cosmopolitisme" et "frugalité sans intention". Cette typologie suggère la complexité des arbitrages associés aux politiques de la transition écologique, qui articulent des enjeux de justice sociale et d’efficacité environnementale, et qui, parce qu’ils mobilisent les répertoires de l’incitation ou ceux de la contrainte, n’opèrent pas de simples choix techniques. Ils s’inscrivent dans le cadre des fractures sociales, économiques, culturelles et territoriales qui traversent la société française et mettent en jeu des intérêts divergents, illustrant par là leur dimension proprement politique.

Location :

- Room Goguel, 56 rue des Saints-Pères, 75007 Paris (Sciences Po)

- Online, via Zoom (the link will be send after your registration)

More informations here


  • 11 April 2024; 14:45-16:45: TREES (2)
  • 2 May 2024; 14:45-16:45: AIRE (2)
  • 13 June 2024; all day: AIRE conference



  • 14 September 2023, 14:45-16:45: stream "Unboxing the Environment" (1)

Unboxing the environment: enquêter à partir des sédiments, des fleuves et des pathogènes

With Giacomo Parrinello, Sandrine Revet, Guillaume Lachenal

To launch the Unboxing the environment stream, the three coordinators will lead a discussion based on their own fields of investigation, to consider the issues involved in investigating entities such as sediments, mercury or pathogens. What social worlds are being recomposed? What politics are at work when these entities are taken into account? What methods and collaborations are involved?

Room : 

- Sciences Po, Room 102, 56 rue des Saints-Pères, 75007 Paris

- Via Zoom (the link will be send after your registration)


  • 12 October 2023, 14h45-16h45 : Stream « In transition » (1)

The Existential Politics of Climate Change

With Jessica GREEN

The current global climate regime is failing, and emissions continue to rise. How can we make the rapid progress on decarbonization that matches the urgency of the climate crisis ? In this talk, Jessica Green will discuss why the climate regime is failing, and how we can envision global climate policy beyond the Paris Agreement. The answers, she argues, are to reform international trade and finance institutions in ways that constrain climate obstructionism, and facilitate investments in clean technologies. This will require global cooperation of a different sort – one that focuses on regulating dollars in the global economy, rather than tons of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.


- Sciences Po, Salle du conseil, 13 rue de l'Université, 75007 Paris

- Oline, via Zoom (the link will be send after your registration)


  • 9 November 2023, 14:45-16:45: stream "TREES" (1) 

Adjusted knowledge for decision-making I: Ecological planning and contractualisation in the territories.

With Sébastien TREYER and Bernard REBER

Providing knowledge-based support for the implementation of transition governance is a key challenge, as much for the environmental imperative as for the social, economic and political issues involved in the far-reaching changes at stake. Ecological planning is one of the institutional innovations recently put in place in France, following on from the Citizens' Climate Convention, and in parallel with exercises such as the Conseil national de la refondation. To be able to offer guidance, analyses and proposals for the governance of the transition, it is essential to take stock of these experiments, but also of other experiments and innovations of less governmental initiative, as well as putting them into perspective over time and comparing them with other historical examples.

This session will take as its starting point a conceptual framework derived from think-tank papers (Terra Nova, Iddri) which proposed a framework linking ecological planning, State organisation, territorial innovations and negotiations, and contractualisation. It will examine the underlying hypotheses and the provisional conclusions that can be drawn, and aims to identify the key questions that need to be addressed in order to provide knowledge-based support for a case of ecological planning that is currently being developed, draw lessons from this experience and prepare for collective learning from other experiences in other countries.

Location :

- Room J211, 13 rue de l'Université, 75007 Paris (Sciences Po)

- Online, via Zoom (the link will be send after your registration)

  • 21 December 2023; 14:45-16:45: AIRE (1) 

The environmental research in Sciences Po : Presentations by PhD candidates

Sciences Po currently has around forty doctoral candidates whose work focuses on environmental issues, either directly or indirectly.

During this AIRE seminar, some of the PhD candidates working on environmental topics at Sciences Po will present their work (at all stages of development) in three panels. Each panel will run for 40 minutes. Participants will speak for 8-10 minutes, followed by Q&A. We hope to welcome the AIRE community at large to learn about the exciting research being done by our PhD candidates. 

Location : 

- Room B010, 1 place Saint Thomas d'Aquin, 75007 Paris (Sciences Po)

- Online, via Zoom 

[More information about the panels]


What is the Environment Good For? The Geology, Toxicity and Finance of Mining

With Pia BailleulBastien Cabot and Gustav Kalm

A great deal of research has come to be classified under the category of environment. Yet, that term seems ill-adapted for many research projects. So-called environmental issues are more often conceptualized through other categories. In this, we reflect on how the category of environment has sat with our research projects on uranium and rare earth mining in Greenland, iron ore mining in Guinea and coal mining in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. Geologists delineate minerals and metals according to chemical and physical properties and their spatial accessibility, and evaluate their industrial rentability forgetting they belong to a wide territory. When miners in 19th century France deal with industrial risks, safety, occupational diseases and the modes of property of common resources, they express concerns about environmental issues, although they do not make use of that term, which is barely used even among the scientific community at that time. For international mining companies, mineral resources can also simply be speculative financial assets as in the case of iron mining in Guinea. 

In all these cases, what is normally called the environment is conceptualized through other categories. Therefore, what are the analytic gains and pitfalls of applying the etic category of environment in our research projects?

Room :

Salle du Conseil, 13 rue de l'Université, 75007 Paris (Sciences Po)

- Or online, via Zoom (the link will be send after your registration)

More information here


On Hidden Power of Trees: Urban Resistance in Tbilisi 

With Professor Dr. Ketevan Gurchiani, Ilia State University (Tbilisi, Georgia)

This paper analyzes the creative use of state regulations to counter the rapidly diminishing public spaces in Tbilisi, Georgia. People try to retake the urban space by creatively maneuvering different regulations. One such tactic is to plant trees of special value in areas marked as state property to avoid privatization of the place. The paper focuses on how the citizens of Tbilisi manipulate the laws governing the green spaces in the urban area and use gaps in different regulations for their ‘hidden transcript’ – to retake the public space by making it environmentally more valuable. By using these tactics, they exercise their right to the city. Plants that are inherently territory classifying beings, can be used to classify territory (Besky, S., & Padwe, J. 2016. Placing plants in the territory. Environment and Society, 7(1), 9-28., Dove, M. 2011. The Banana Tree at the Gate: A History of Marginal Peoples and Global Markets in Borneo.). Green spaces have the potential of marking and reclaiming the territory, embody resistance, and control.  

Relying on observation and in-depth interviews, the paper looks at “Greening” as a complex tactic. It particularly focuses on different purposes this practice serves, on the dynamic relationship between the main actors by looking at them beyond the established binaries of “strong” and „weak”, “human” and “non-human”. By using the genealogical approach, the paper also looks at how the tactics used against the Soviet state to maintain control over the land, still inform the tactics of urban resistance today (comp. Scott, J. 2009. The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia.). The more general question the paper tries to answer is how and if the use of tactics can be translated into the strategy, the hidden resistance into a social movement.

Room : 

- Salle du Conseil, 13 rue de l'Université, 75007 Paris (Sciences Po)

- Or online, via Zoom (the link will be send after your registration)

More information here


While primarily aimed towards coordinating interdisciplinary environmental research dialogues and networks within Sciences Po, AIRE warmly invites engagements with colleagues outside our institution, and collaborates with likeminded networks, such as the Center for Earth Policy (University of Paris) and the Alliance program (Columbia University, Paris I, Ecole Polytechnique, Sciences Po).

For anyone interested in joining AIRE or following its activities or that of a particular stream, we kindly invite you to register here, or to get in touch with

We moreover warmly welcome anyone who wants to become actively involved in AIRE or has ideas for events.


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