Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL)
The Paris Observatory is a founding member of the Initiative d’Excellence (IdEx – Excellence Initiative) and of the Communauté d’Universités et d’Etablissements (ComUE – Group of Universities and Centres) PSL, whose ultimate aim is to create over a period of several years a « research university » of world-wide renown. To this end, its founding members and associated partners plan to launch an innovative campaign of research, teaching and more generally public information, while maintaining nevertheless their independence and autonomy.
PSL’s raison d’être
Paris Sciences et Lettres was organized in 2010 by several prestigious centres (Collège de France, l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Paris, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Ecole Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris, Observatoire de Paris), so that they could have a a means to respond to the present challenges raised by university education and research, as well as to be an active participant in the evolution of society.
The PSL, which was soon joined by other centres such as the Paris-Dauphine University, the Curie Institute, the CNRS, theINSERM and the INRIA, and many schools devoted to art and creation, was selected as an IdEx in July 2011: as a consequence, it now receives significant funding from the state. Since then, other centres, including the Ecole des Mines de Paris, have also joinded the PSL.
The 25 establishments which currently make up the PSL, be they members or associates, have their own specific character and a background of excellence. Most are deeply involved in research.
The Observatory, founding member of Paris Sciences et Lettres
The Observatory contributes to the PSL its international notoriety in astrophysics. Since it is the only part of the ComUE involved inastronomy, it s participation in PSL has a unique character, and its importance is enhanced thanks to the international prestige of the PSL, in much the same way as that of the « Harvard-SmithonianCenter for Astrophysics » which is part of Harvard University, or that of the « Institute of Astronomy » within Cambridge University.
The Observatory participates actively in most of the initiatives launched within the framework of the PSL, in research teaching, valorization and public outreach.
Research, education, valorization, public outreach : cooperative initiatives
As far as research is concerned, , Paris Sciences et Lettres is in particular the driver for the LabEx ESEP (Exploration Spatiale des Environnements Planétaires – Exploration of Space and Planetary Environments), whose scientific coordination is ensured by the Paris Observatory. Moreover, the Paris Observatory, via its collaboration with other members of the PSL, is involved in many original research programmes, with a consequent effect of synergy in certain cases. In the coming years, some of the research which is at present carried out exclusively within the Observatory, but which has strategic importance for the PSL, could be supported by the IdEx.
As far as training is concerned, the Observatory aspires principally, within the context of the PSL, to attract students, who are as always seduced by astrophysics, to the experimental sciences. That is why the Observatory has been deeply involved in the multidisciplinary set of higher education studies of the PSL (CPES), since its origin in 2012. The Observatory is also involved in the establishment of a doctoral school for the PSL, as well as the establishment of the Institut de Technologie et d’Innovation (Institute of Technology and Innovation - ITI), an attractive opening for the Observatorie’s M2 OSAE curriculum.
The Observatory’s strategy in the valorization sector requires an increasing pooling of resources at the level of the PSL. For example, this will involve calling increasingly on the valorization department of the PSL to help detect upstream valorizable research, using patent applications, contractual relations with industry, and indeed to help in the creation of companies by scientists of the Observatory Consequently, the establishment participates actively in the creation of the valorization department of the PSL.
A number of other initiatives, concerning communication, information distribution, conservation and valorization of the documentary, instrumental, iconographic and architectural heritage, can be shared across the board within the PSL. The Paris Observatory intends to play a major role in these activities.