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Welcome to AIV

Université Paris Diderot

Université Paris Descartes


Interdisciplinarity as a new pedagogic approach towards a Master Degree

The term ‘interdisciplinary research’ was coined to describe the rising importance of collaborative effort across scientific domains, a hallmark of the forefront of contemporary research.

The term suggests a synthetic, integrative approach where scientists from different backgrounds formulate and address jointly a common problem. The importance of Interdisciplinarity goes beyond research practice; it is an intellectual framework and as such can serve as a key component in scientific education. Interdisciplinary training at its best can form students capable of adapting to the pivotal aspect of modern life: a continuous change. Interdisciplinary background will be increasingly valued in our world where flexibility, cooperative problem-solving and communication with different mindsets are essential.

The AIV does not promote interdisciplinarity as a discipline in itself and cannot be easily compared with more traditional master degree programs. The two main characteristics of this master are rather the pedagogical curriculum and the field to which it is applied: Life sciences. Students in the program are dedicated to continue a scientific research career, and therefore the teaching is aimed at the common traits of scientific investigation by working together in seminars rather than by formal class teaching.

The AIV pedagogic components. The AIV is launched every year with the “project writing workshop” at the Foljuif Ecology station of ENS at the Fontainebleau forest. During the year, weekly meetings are held on Friday afternoons, axed around three trimester courses. In parallel, students participate in three trimester internships - the laboratories can be chosen from any university or institution in the Paris area yet at least one experimental and one theoretical interdisciplinary project are required. Students wishing to acquire or strenghten a specific discipline can participate in external modules/formal courses organised in the Paris region in exchange with one of the internships.

The AIV students. Each promotion is composed of up to twenty students with a high level background in one of the following domains: Math, Physics, Computer Sciences, Chemistry, Biology, Medicine, Cognitive Sciences, Philosophy/History of science.

The teachers. The AIV mentors maintain close personal contact with the individual students, resulting in an enriching dynamics for both the students and the supervisors. The intellectual richness offered by the wide range of backgrounds, the ability to ask relevant questions, to formulate constructive critics, and launch new projects brought us to create a permanent structure (The CRI) to maintain this productive scientific interaction.

This interdisciplinary approach offers students:

  • A critical view on scientific work leading to formulating new theoretical hypothesis and to devising appropriate experimental approaches.
  • Mobility in their research activity, enlarging the spectra of labs and domains.