10 years ago, Sciences Po Rennes opened the Campus des Transitions in Caen, a unique building designed to provide students with interdisciplinary training in political science, climate and digital technologies. Its director, Nicolas Escach, discusses the strengths and pedagogy of the unique campus in France.
Origins of campus transitions
Why did you create Campus des Transitions?
We started with an observation: the issue of energy has a special resonance in Normandy. Ten years ago there was a job prospect in nuclear and wind energy. It was necessary to prepare people capable of accompanying these new energies. Gradually the Campus des Transitions expanded to include the theme of sustainable development. This topic is cross-cutting. Today, many institutions are open to such reflections, but 10 years ago, the creation of a campus dedicated exclusively to sustainable development was extremely innovative.
What is Transitions Campus Sciences Po Rennes?
This is a campus offering a four-year course of study. Students come directly to Caen in their second year. They benefit from an interdisciplinary knowledge base in political science as well as an introduction to transition. From the third year they go abroad for a year. They can spend twelve months in an exchange program at a partner university, or spend six months in a school and six months in an internship in another country. At Campus des Transitions, the fourth year is a year of projects on which students work directly from the territories. They travel to France and abroad to fulfill orders from companies or organizations.
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Study at Campus Transitions
What specializations are offered at Campus des Transitions?
Students take a preliminary specialization in the fourth year, then choose a specialization in the fifth year. There are three on Campus des Transitions:
- Innovative strategies for urban areas
- Consultations and territories in transition
- Future generation and legal transition
With these 3 specialties, we have a complete approach to the transition, both in terms of space and in subjects such as interaction with the subjects of transition, attitudes towards governance, the question of the legal framework or space law, etc. .
How are students who come to your campus recruited?
Some come from Sciences Po Rennes after their first year, others apply after their khâgne. We can integrate students in their second year, as well as in their fourth and fifth years. We base our recruitment on several criteria: a solid general culture, a certain sensitivity to transitional issues and topics related to governance. Our recruitment method allows us to have groups of 30 to 35 students maximum. Thus, we offer very strong support.
Sockets are varied. Our graduates work in the public sector, such as companies, associations or start-ups. Some are even entrepreneurial. Prepare for many professions
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Courses are focused on Nordic countries such as Scandinavia or Iceland. Why ?
Our international policy is centered around three pillars: the Nordic countries, the countries and universities that deal with issues related to peace, and the countries of Asia. If we turned to northern Europe, it is because Normandy has been cooperating with the Baltic, Arctic and Scandinavian countries for a long time. In addition, climate, citizen participation, and transitional issues quickly arose in this area of the world. It is in Northern Europe that many texts on sustainable development have been created.
The pedagogy of Campus des Transitions is also very different from the classic IEP, isn’t it?
She is very open. We do not forbid anything in terms of pedagogical openness. This is not an activist campus. We don’t give in to fads, but work with professionals: companies, elected officials, communities, artists, etc. We regularly introduce new methods, new tools, new courses that are not found anywhere else in France. Lately we’ve been talking about biomimicry, cycling design, how to build a city from a cyclist’s point of view, and biodiversity conservation.
Our teaching is immersive. We work within our walls, but also outside of them. We take our students to places of meditation, parks, farms, third places or places of knowledge. We also bring in artists from the Campus des Transitions. Culture is a strong point when it comes to transitions.
We also try to separate theoretical knowledge, manual knowledge and practical knowledge. Our students often meet students of professional lyceums who are engaged in botany or landscape designers. For our 10th anniversary, we are going to take about ten students by boat from Normandy to Denmark to study how the oceans are changing and how the coasts are responding to these changes.
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