Thematic Workshops « Environment, Political Ecology and Sustainable Development »

Coordinators: Jean-Pierre Le Bourhis, Renaud Hourcade

From climate change to air quality, protests against Cell towers or major developments, the issues linked to environmental degradation and the associated health risks are now central to public action. The way in which mobilisation by citizens, elected representatives, administrations and experts responds to these multiple crises is of interest to political and social sciences: it involves the emergence of new social standards and values; innovation in government instruments (numerical indicators, procedures, cooperation, prospective scenarios, etc.); renegotiation of relationships between the state and the market, the state and science, and the state and civil society; and reorganisations of multi-level governance; as well as political inertia and resistance to change.

The role of the thematic workshops “Environment, Political Ecology and Sustainable Development” is to bring together research studies carried out at Arènes on environmental issues. These may centre on mobilisations, social practices or public policies. The consolidation of this research theme is fuelled by contributions from members who have joined us in recent years (specialists in health-environment, water and air policies, PhD students interested in the energy transition, etc.), and also extends themes that have been central to the laboratory’s work for a long time. These include the study of ecologist movements and analyses of the construction of public issues. The thematic workshops makes it easier to communicate members’ work and share and discuss results, so as to encourage joint, multi-disciplinary work on these subjects. It provides an opportunity to express shared concerns and identify complementary skills within the laboratory to better respond to the research issues raised by environmental questions. On a subject that is crucial to contemporary public action, Arènes thus intends to demonstrate the originality and vitality of its contributions from a social and academic point of view, and also to fulfill the knowledge needs of public agencies and services.

The thematic group “Environment, Political Ecology and Sustainable Development” organises regular meetings open to all and led by unit research members or guests invited to present their work.

 Recent and forthcoming events include:

While for a long time, territories were pushed to the fringes of energy governance, they now play an increasing role. The energy transition paradigm seems to be soliciting them by encouraging the local coordination of energy supply and demand, partly through exploiting territorialised renewable resources (wind, waves, sun waste, geothermal energy etc.), and partly through energy sobriety policies (energy-saving buildings, thermal renovation of buildings, reorganisation of public transport). In France, several recent laws have been devised to support these initiatives, e.g. the Grenelle Acts, MAPTAM Act of 2014 on the role of major cities, the 2015 Act on the energy transition and green growth, and laws opening access to new funding for energy-efficient projects. At the same time, at the local level, citizen initiatives, sometimes associated with local authorities, aim at taking more autonomous responsibility for energy production. These changes call for a deeper exploration of the relations that connect territories to new energy policies: What are the territorial conditions that influence the assimilation of these skills? Influenced by which local factors does transition change territories? And how do territories themselves define the meaning of “transition”?

With contributions from Sezin Topçu, Melike Yalcin, Sébastien Chailleux, Yoan Miot, François Balaye, Lisa Bienvenu, Gilles Debizet, Pierre-Antoine Landel, Aude Danielli, Anne-Cécile Renouard, Romain Pasquier, Pierre Wokuri.


  • 15-16 November 2017: Co-organisation of an international symposium “Le risque environnemental : regards interdisciplinaires et nouvelles formes de regulation” (Environmental risk: inter-disciplinary approaches and new forms of regulations) with the Chair RiTME, IMT Atlantique, Terra Botanica Angers.


  • 3 June 2017, EHESP: Seminar on environmental inequalities with Cyrille Harpet (Arènes) on his book Justices et injustices environnementales, LDGJ, 2016 and Matthieu Grossetête (CURAPP) on the environment seen through the social classes.


  • 4 May 2017, EHESP: In-house seminar on territorial energy transition policies with Melike Yalcin, Arènes, “L’énergie comme projet identitaire: le cas du Mené (Bretagne) mis en perspective avec des territoires étrangers” (Energy as an identity project: the case of Mené, Brittany, in comparison with foreign territories) and Pierre Wokuri, Arènes “Les projets citoyens d’énergie renouvelable en France et au Danemark: une confrontation David contre Goliath ?” (Renewable energy projects set up by citizens in France and Denmark: David meets Goliath?).


  • 21 March 2017, IEP de Rennes: Seminar with Elizabeth Wilson, professor of environmental politics and law at Minnesota University (Humphrey School of Public Affairs), on the role of regional transmission organizations (RTOs) in the energy transition in the United States.


  • 24 May 2016, EHESP: Workshop to inaugurate the environment thematic workshops: “Risques environnementaux et sanitaires : Du « banal » au « scandale », un étrange paradoxe social” (Environmental and health risks: from “banal” to “scandal”, a strange social paradox) with Emmanuel Henry, Emmanuelle Fillion, Didier Torny, Cyrille Harpet, Renaud Crespin, Jean-Pierre Le Bourhis, Sylvie Ollitrault.
Réalisation : Yann Le Sager - Zen At Work/Studio Ricom