Controversy and the energy systems transition - scientific communication

Controversy and the energy systems transition - scientific communication
Master Sciences de la Terre et des planètes, environnementParcours Geosciences for the energy system transition


The objective of this course is to bring students to confront contemporary socio-technical controversies related to the energy transition. A set of sociological concepts and tools will be presented which will allow them to understand the ins and outs as well as the dynamics of controversies. This course also aims to familiarize students with public consultation mechanisms and communication surrounding the development of projects.

At the start of the course, students will be invited to work in groups of 2 or 3 on a controversy relating to a project related to energy. The framing elements will be provided during the course. This is divided into three main parts.
The first part of the course will provide students with a set of conceptual and methodological elements (a toolkit) useful for understanding the logics and evolutions of controversies and the rationalities of the people or groups involved in them. Who are the actors who engage in the controversy (notion of social worlds), what are the cleavages or alliances between actors (actor-network model) and what trajectory does the controversy take (sociological ballistics)? This framework can then be mobilized by the students to establish a sociological cartography of the controversy they have chosen to study.

The second part of this course focuses on the consultation mechanisms associated with a project (public debate, public inquiry, citizens' conference, etc.). How do they work and what impact can they have on the development of a controversy (do they lead to civic engagement in a project or, conversely, do they reinforce the dispute?). Finally, a look will be made at the modes of communication implemented by the stakeholders. How is scientific, political and economic content popularized and with what intentions? How is this information relayed by the media and with what effects? These two parts of the course will allow students to continue their analysis of a controversy, paying particular attention to the limits of the arran gements made to reach a settlement of the conflict.

The hourly volume of this course is 24 hours. Two or three sessions will be devoted to exchanges with the students on their work of analyzing a controversy. At the end of the course, students will be required to write a 30-page report presenting their critical analysis of a controversy.

Modalités d'organisation et de suivi

The evaluation will be done in three stages:

  1. Drafting of a map of the controversy, including a presentation of the key actors and arguments.
  2. An oral presentation will then be organised where each group will present the theoretical model and resources to be mobilised to analyse the controversy.
  3. Finally, a report will be produced integrating the map, theoretical model and analysis of the controversy.


Responsable(s) de l'enseignement