Addressing the topic of ‘Smart Cities’ at University: New Challenges for Sociology?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 4:30 PM
Room: 301
Oral Presentation
Sophie NEMOZ , International Chair in Eco-innovations,, University of Versailles Saint-Quentin, GUYANCOURT, France
In recent years, a growing number of urban policy makers are tackling the issues of sustainability with an increasing use of ICTs. In this sense, projects implementing advanced prototypes, systems in Information and Communication Technologies refer to the topic of ‘Smart Cities’. This rhetoric leads to questioning their interactions with institutions of higher education, especially since the “World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities” (WSSD-U-2012). The paper aims at exploring the on-going relationships between urban sustainability, ‘smart devices’ and academic actors. To what extent do these interactions contribute to bridging the perceived gap between science and society? What transformation do they induce in university practices? If a new social contract with scientists is announced, how does it redefine the role of sociologists?

Firstly, a review of existing literature and experimentations will examine the varying inclusions of smart technologies in universities with an eye to sustainable development. Our participatory observation in the “Green Campus Summit” (Puducherry, April 2013) also takes part in this international state of art. There will be a particular focus on the implications and possibilities for sociology to develop this field of research. Then, it will be analyzed from an empirical viewpoint. In this regard, the second part will deepen our sociological action research on the project “Smart Campus” carried out by the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin. Making use of innovative methodologies and covering a smart grid that enables the campuses to produce renewable energy and to optimize its uses for sustainable living and transportation, this case study is proving to be of particular interest. In the light of an international overview and local insights, we will finally discuss the challenges of trans-disciplinary collaboration for sociology at the meso-level where university participates in Smart Cities.