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4 | 2008-2009
The Letter
Academic year 2008-2009
Institutional news

Partnership between the Collège de France and the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie

Olivier Guillaume
p. 66

On 8 January 2009, Professor Esther Duflo, holder of the new Chair “Knowledge against Poverty”, delivered her inaugural lecture to a particularly large audience at the Collège de France. Thousands of kilometres away, in Antananarivo, Bamako, Rabat, Sofia and Yaoundé, academics and development actors gathered together on the “digital campuses” of the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) to follow this inaugural lecture live, on line, on the Collège de France website, and to debate amongst themselves.

Esther Duflo, during the videoconference at the AUF, 13 January 2009.

Esther Duflo, during the videoconference at the AUF, 13 January 2009.

Digital campus live: Antananarivo, Bamako, Rabat, Sofia and Yaoundé.

Digital campus live: Antananarivo, Bamako, Rabat, Sofia and Yaoundé.

A few days later, on 13 January, these digital campuses were linked up with Esther Duflo in a videoconference organized by the AUF. The conference was opened by the President of the AUF, Professor Bernard Cerquiglini, in the presence of Professor Pierre Corvol, Administrator of the Collège de France. Georges Malamoud, Director of the AUF programme “Take-up of ICT in higher education and research” chaired the debates, which lasted for nearly two hours.

Intense interest was shown in the experimental approach recommended by Esther Duflo for the evaluation of policies and programmes to eradicate poverty. The participants in the videoconference, with their wide-ranging hands-on experience in development, provided an enriching contribution to reflection on these issues.

This success confirms the relevance of the partnership between the Collège de France and the AUF, with the aim of promoting the dissemination of knowledge and intellectual debate in French-speaking countries.

Groups have been formed on digital campuses to follow Esther Duflo’s lectures as they are put on line on the Collège de France website.

The next project concerned another newly-created Chair at the Collège de France: “Sustainable development – environment, energy and society”, held by demographer Henri Leridon. His inaugural lecture, “From zero growth to sustainable development” was put on line, live (5 March at 6 p.m.), on the Collège de France website. It has been followed by a videoconference with a large number of French-speaking digital campuses.

The plan is for the partnership between the Collège de France and the AUF to concern far more than the development theme. It will extend to other disciplines represented at the Collège de France, likely to be of interest to the AUF and its 42 digital campuses in the vast network of 691 higher education and research institutions, in 81 countries, primarily in Africa, South-East Asia and Central and Eastern Europe.