The IOES Master's degree combines a multidisciplinary approach and a flipped classroom to teach the social sciences of economics
A social science perspective on economic issues and learning to conduct scientific research based on the principles of flipped classes: that’s what students have in store for them in the 2018-19 academic year as part of the multidisciplinary Master's degree “Institutions, Organizations, Economics, and Society” (economic and social sciences major) sponsored by Paris-Dauphine, EHESS, and MINES ParisTech.
We interviewed Eve Chiapello (director of studies at EHESS) and Paul Lagneau-Ymonet (lecturer at Paris-Dauphine), joint coordinators of the Master's degree, to learn more about this new program through research and for research.
PSL: The IOES Master's degree is a new PSL program that seems to have no equivalent. Why did you create this new degree?
To describe, explain, understand, and critique contemporary economies, students need to learn how historians, economists, sociologists, politicians, and management researchers work.
Paul Lagneau-Ymonet: Yes, it’s the only Master's of its kind in France, and probably in Europe as well. It offers a multidisciplinary approach, with theoretical courses designed and taught by two or three professors in separate disciplines (an economist and a sociologist, for example), more technical courses (programming, econometrics, archives, etc.) and a wealth of seminars. Our goal is for students to acquire the knowledge and methods they need to develop their scientific mind and develop a career plan.
Eve Chiapello: Ordinarily, the distinctions between disciplines tend to result in a division of approaches. A single object like salary is studied in history, economics, sociology, political science, and management--and the results produced in each discipline generally remain unknown to the others. To describe, explain, understand, and criticize contemporary economies, we need to understand the conditions under which we can marshal this scattered knowledge. That’s why students need to learn how historians, economists, sociologists, politicians, and management researchers work. That way, they’ll be able to avoid two pitfalls – disciplinary hyperspecialization and syncretism – to conduct their own informed research. That was the thinking that led us to develop the IOES Master's degree. Thanks to our colleagues at Paris-Dauphine (DRM and IRISSO laboratories, DIAL) and MINES ParisTech (CGS, CSI), we are updating the EHESS trademark, namely multidisciplinary teaching and cross-disciplinary research.
PSL: Which disciplines and professions will your future students pursue after completing the Master's degree, do you think? Is there a career path that would make you particularly proud, which you would consider a success?
EC: Of course, we want to help young people embrace, under the best possible conditions, careers in science, academics, and research both in France and internationally. That is why the Master’s degree offers courses in English and preparation for a language certificate. That said, I hope we will also train people who will contribute to thinking and bringing about other methods of production and dialogue.
PLY: Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out once again that training students to have a scientific mindset teaches them a habit of thinking that is not exclusive to research. Being able to formulate a problem and conduct an analysis is always useful, right? The role of teaching institutions is not only to transfer knowledge that could be useful, but also to encourage students to adopt ways of thinking and behaving that transcend their particular interests. Otherwise, we’d be betraying the values of the university: justice as principle, truth as foundation, and liberty as goal.
PSL: What would be your advice to students preparing their applications?
In the admission interview, we will place a great deal of emphasis on the way applicants demonstrate their interest in research.
PLY: They need to take the time to really understand the program. It’s made up of conceptual courses and methodological classes that include, mandatorily but not exclusively, the manipulation of statistical data and digital tools. So students need to be interested in that.
EC: That’s right, future applicants need to take the several-page research draft we ask them for very seriously. It’s not just an exercise. In the admission interview, we will place a great deal of emphasis on the way applicants use this exercise to demonstrate their interest in research and understanding of what it involves. That will show in the way the project is presented, the problem, the initial answers provided, references to the literature on the topic, etc. It is essential for us that each student, even if he or she does not want to go into research afterward, follows that scientific approach. It will be central throughout the two-year Master's program.
PSL: What message would you like to share with incoming students?
You are the main producers of the course you will be taking. Don’t be passive, take ownership of what you’re being offered and help us to make it a better program
EC: I have two important messages: 1. You are the main producers of the course you will be taking. Don’t be passive, take ownership of what you’re being offered and help us to make it a better program; 2. You are a group and you’re here to help each other, share, and learn together. You’ll learn more and better, and the professors will learn with you as well. I sincerely hope that we will have students who work together. We are still very much in the process of building this program, and the first classes have a unique responsibility. But all the effort will be worth it.
PLY: I agree with everything Eve has said. In research, as elsewhere, rewards are individual even though the work is always collective. So we’ve designed this Master's program to teach our students how to work collectively and, reciprocally, to require all of us research professors to work as a team, for them and with them.
You are the main producers of the course you will be taking. Don’t be passive, take ownership of what you’re being offered and help us to make it a better program.