Mapping scientific and technical controversies in the digital age
For Bruno Latour, leader of the project :
It is a major step for an educational innovation launched at the Ecole des mines and developed at Sciences Po as part of the double degree between Paris VI and Sciences Po as well as the master’s degree in communication. It allows students to follow scientific and technical controversies that they have to map using leading edge digital tools. Two of the educational goals consist in making students in hard but also social and human sciences understand how scientific knowledge is constructed, all the while training them to digital methods of exploration.
The FORCCAST project (Formation par la Cartographie de Controverses à l’Analyse des Sciences et Techniques) was selected by the international jury of the call for projects “Initiatives d’excellence en formations innovantes » (IDEFI).
This pedagogical project gathers 13 partners including 3 international universities and 3 high schools :
- Sciences Po,
- Paris Diderot University,
- Mines ParisTech,
- Telecom ParisTech,
- l’Ecole des Ponts ParisTech,
- Jacques Brel la Courneuve Highschool,
- le MicroLycée-93,
- l’Internat d’excellence de Sourdun,
- Manchester University,
- the MIT,
- l’Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne,
- l’institut des systèmes complexes de Paris Ile-de-France (ISC),
- l’institut des systèmes complexes de Rhône-Alpes (IXXI).
Goals and issues
Economic imbalance, ecological crisis, bioethical dilemmas and every other modern issue appear as knots of politic, science, moral and technique impossible to sort out.
By teaching students how to find their way in the complexity of media and scientific discourses, how to enhance public debate by publishing content and to participate in collective decision-making, the FORCCAST project contributes to renewing the format of democratic debates.
From studying controversies to debating : 3 pedagogical axes
FORCCAST is structured around three pedagogical axes, which mobilize cognitive postures rarely used in current education:
|Exploring an uncertain environment|
|Contributing to the the enhancement of public debate by publishing works under current semiotic formats|
|Debating in realistic simulation of negotiation situations and collective decision-making|
At the heart of FORCCAST’s pedagogical approach lie the following principles:
- Encouraging « cognition-action » through exploration, contribution and participation rather than « cognition-memory », emphasized by traditional pedagogical methods
- Prioritizing team work in or outside of class
- Simulating real-life situations through the endorsement of specific roles, in order to favor knowledge acquisition and skill development
- Encouraging reflexiveness in order to frame progression and anchor acquisitions
The project’s ressources
FORCCAST has currently made available course modules and training programs for trainers (see the Ressources page). It aims at unifying education communities around the analysis of sciences and technology.
Other ongoing developments concern:
- Open source digital tools adapted to a pedagogical use
- A documentaire database gathering materials produced by students, in order to reuse them, and pedagogical resources
The main (and hardest to achieve) goal of each controversy project is to offer the actors an arena, an almost-parliament that would give the controversy an adapted forum to expose their differences and create common solutions.
- Make students from social as well as science studies understand how scientific knowledge is built and how it is updated in discourses (scientific literature, political debate, etc) and subject fought by the public, the scientists or the decision-makers;
- Train students in digital methods of exploration of arguments, knowledge and available opinions;
- Lead them to produce, edit and publish validated content using digital tools in their present and future daily and professional lives;
- Make them experiment public speaking, debate, negotiation and collective decision-making in realistic environment;
- Prepare students to orientation and decision-making in an uncertain environment.