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Environment and epidemics

Sciences Po médialab invites applications for a PhD scholarship in sociology or history (starting in September 2020).

Notice, Call for applications

The médialab is an interdisciplinary research laboratory which conducts thematic and methodological research to investigate the role of digital technology in our societies. It brings together sociologists, historians, engineers and designers. 


Call for proposal for a PhD scholarship

The thesis will take part to the field of environmental studies (history of environment, sociology and anthropology of environment, science and technology studies), and engage with new approaches at the crossroads of social science, biology and digital methods. The use of new data coming from the biological sciences has recently renewed our understanding of past and present environmental and epidemic crises. New forms of scientific work and data sharing have emerged, enabling real-time monitoring of epidemics, informing public health interventions, and offering new sources for the history of ecosystems, bodies and societies. As an example, the progress of molecular phylogeny (the compared study of genetic sequences and of their evolutionary history) opens a new space to investigate the social, based on the analysis and visualisation of biological traces by computational methods.

The thesis may explore the following directions (and possibly combine them) : 

  • Researches combining history, qualitative and ethnographic approaches with bioinformatics focusing on epidemics, epizootics, or biological invasions, in the recent or distant past, at the local or global scale, on european or extra-european fieldworks.
  • Studies in sociology or social history of science, documenting the emergence of research collectives in computational biology (phylogeny, epidemiology, modelling, ecology, biological big data), the transformation of their digital tools, their involvement in the understanding and response to epidemic and ecological crises and their appropriation by publics.

These suggestions are not limitative – what matters is to build a research linking environmental issues, biological data and digital tools. The PhD candidate may also complement his work by engagement with epidemiological or naturalist surveys, or the development of data colllection, analysis and visualisation tools.

Application requirements

The candidate must have a master degree (M2) in hand at the time of recruitment in the PhD program, and a training in social sciences (sociology, history, anthropology, political science, science and technologie studies). She/he will have previous experience of social science research (interviews, ethnography, archival work). An interest for biology and digital social science, and for quantitative and digital methods will be appreciated. Specific attention will be given to atypical profiles (with background in natural sciences for example).

Candidates will send no later that Monday 11 May 2020, their application including : 

  • A curriculum vitae 
  • A letter explaining their motivations
  • A succinct thesis project, no longer than 2 pages, explaining the topic of the thesis, the main research question and the potential methods envisionned.
  • One or several written works (articles, thesis, etc…)
  • One letter of recommendation.

The application must be sent by email to Guillaume Lachenal 

For all inquiries, please contact Guillaume Lachenal