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cnrs youth clubs

Science Debates for the Next Generation

For a dozen years now, CNRS has sponsored the creation of CNRS Youth Science Clubs (Clubs CNRS Jeunes Sciences et Citoyens) both in France and abroad. The clubs provide a forum for informal meetings between junior high and high school students and research scientists “to debate and openly exchange ideas with scientists on the role of science and its impact on society,” says Jean-Louis Buscaylet, project coordinator and manager. The idea dates back to CNRS' 50th anniversary in 1989, and was conceived in order to “bring into question the certainties and uncertainties of science, crucial for shaping the society of tomorrow that the younger generation will be responsible for,” explains Buscaylet. Today, 54 clubs are active in France and another 40 are about to be created. Furthermore, these clubs are becoming international. After a club in Köln (Germany), a first club in the US was recently created at the Rochambeau French Lycée in Washington, DC. The club was inaugurated on May 20th during the Lycée's 50th anniversary, attended by 500 students and by local authorities, and initial projects were planned during the club committee's first meeting a few days later. More clubs should be created in the US (San Francisco), in Portugal (Coimbra), Belgium (Liège and Louvain), Germany (Stuttgart), Switzerland (Saint-Maurice), and the Netherlands (Eindhoven).

Teachers, students, counselors and research scientists are volunteering to lead club activities year-round and “are free to choose the content and shape of their activities: conferences, debates, workshops, exhibitions, open house days, or science cafés.” A wide variety of topics are discussed from exclusion to sustainable development, chemical hazards, new epidemics, intelligent machines, food safety, or gamma rays in the universe, reflecting the breadth of CNRS research. “CNRS is present to keep an eye on the content, and a committee of scientists ensures the quality, rigor, and relevance of the subjects chosen,” adds Buscaylet. The clubs are coordinated by the communications representatives of regional offices in France, and by the directors of CNRS offices abroad. Every year, club representatives take part in the national “Science and Citizen” meetings in Poitiers, France, where conferences are organized on a wide range of topics. This is an opportunity for the clubs to identify new subjects for discussion, find the appropriate researchers, and create an international network of exchange and dialog.


Alissar Cheaïb


Contacts :

Jean-Louis Buscaylet
Office of Communications.


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