SUNSET: Science with and for society

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The SUNSET project, short for 'Science with and for a Society in Transition', has just been certified by the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI).

Photo : European Night for Researchers: an event popularising science for the general public © Gauthier Dufau
European Night for Researchers: an event popularising science for the general public © Gauthier Dufau

Promoting dialogue with society beyond the campus walls, as close as possible to those furthest from the academic world, and in line with its institutional strategy in favour of societal and environmental transitions, is at the core of the University of Bordeaux's SUNSET project

The project has just been awarded the 'Science with and for Society' (SAPS) label by the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI) within the framework of the 2022 call for projects.

This second phase has been endowed with 3 million euros. 

The label aims to support innovative projects that encourage the development of new forms of dialogue between science, research and society and to strengthen local networks.

On 28th March 2022, a panel representing all the stakeholders in the dialogue between science, research and society met and drew up a list of 12 new sites along with their budget allocations for the first year of certification. 

The University of Bordeaux has been allocated 481,000€ for the first year. Following these two phases, 18 university sites are now certified for a 3-year period.

The University of Bordeaux SUNSET project


In view of the major societal and environmental challenges, the production, transmission and dissemination of knowledge are crucial for the University of Bordeaux. Its mission is not only to develop and teach knowledge that will enable us to face the challenges of our time, but also to collectively design and experiment concrete solutions, in direct contact with the regions stakeholders.

The university's SAPS project has two strategic objectives:

  1. raise the public's awareness, as widely and as closely as possible, of scientific method and its value in terms of knowledge output, with a focus on inclusion and democratisation, especially targeting the audiences and regions furthest from the academic world
  2. co-construct the conditions for an ongoing debate on a local scale, leading to informed choices regarding major transition challenges, via the joint experimentation of solutions and sharing of scientific expertise.

The project will be coordinated by Philippe Moretto, appointed as the Science and Society project manager. This mission aims to better coordinate the numerous initiatives carried out within the university for the public and the territories, by associating the actors of Scientific, Technical and Industrial Culture (CSTI) as well as its partners.

The University of Bordeaux has developed the SUNSET strategy with its partners, including its academic partners, public scientific and technological institutes (CNRS, Inserm, INRAE, INRIA) and associate institutes (Bordeaux INP, Sciences Po Bordeaux), the Académie de Bordeaux education authority, Cap Sciences as well as the Bordeaux Metropolitan administration and local authorities.

The project is also intended to consolidate the university's roadmap for transitions It should allow the university to open up to the community in a bid to democratise scientific research issues (in particular among schoolchildren and people who are far removed from academia), thanks to a strong network of partners, especially based on a logic of learning by doing and experiences shared with the public. The approach takes on different and constantly evolving forms: livings labs, third places, hands-on science, initiatives in schools, within libraries, etc.

This proactive university policy related to transitions and contributions to societal issues is led by the ACT and InnovationS projects, which were awarded the "IDéES" and "ExcellencEs" calls for projects respectively, and are an integral part of the university's Strategic Horizon 2030 project that has just been finalised.

The "Science with and for Society" label

Granted for three years, this certification is in line with the extension of the provisions of the 2020 law on research programming from 2021 to 2030. It should strengthen the institutional landscape through the creation of a partnership network based on university sites, and make it easier to roll out public policies in favour of dialogue between science, research and society in the heart of the regions. With that in mind, it is based on precise specifications: a strategic commitment led by the governance team; a strong partnership with professionals in scientific outreach and communication (centres of scientific, technical and industrial culture, museums, etc.), associations, the media, etc.; strong collaboration with the local and territorial authorities; a common base of initiatives and actions.

Learn more (in French)