Teacher in charge of the course: Madeleine Akrich
The aim of the course “Description of controversies” is to introduce students to the uncertain world of scientific and technical research as soon as they start their training at Mines ParisTech. The aim is to learn how to map subjects that are the subject of in-depth technical expertise and at the same time have become cases, and often confused ones, involving legal, moral, economic and social issues. Thus, this course develops qualitative investigation skills and provides students with an essential complement to the formalization, modelling, analysis and calculation skills required elsewhere in the other courses. The students carry out a case study. They work in groups of four or five on a previously defined topic under a tutor’s supervision. In terms of course objectives, it is important that the students are not asked to take sides or to give their expert opinion, but to describe as carefully as possible the range of positions, the dynamics of the debates, the technical arguments exchanged, their translation by the various media, as well as the reasons for these developments.