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Some insight on the DiFUS-E project

How can we foster changes in the French research with the Global South to meet the social and ecological challenges ?

As a researcher working with Global South countries for more than ten years, I have released considerable amounts of CO2 because of my frequent travels to the field. Participating to international workshops and conferences, as most of the scholars do, also contribute to raise my carbon footprint. 

Over the last years, my concern about this  contradiction between my personal environmental convictions and my professional practices has been growing, and I have been realizing that this concern was shared by many colleagues. This is how we decided to build the projet DiFUS-E, which aims at analyzing the viewpoints of scholars working with the Global South countries to analyze the institutional brakes as well as the individual and collective barriers that block the dynamics of change, in order to overcome this inertia to change. 

This project is funded by the Maison des Science de l'Homme in Montpellier (https://www.mshsud.org/), which support inter and transdisciplinary projects that question our development models and paradigms of research. 

DiFUS-E is now in its first year, and we started analyzing online surveys that were filled by 402 participants in research units in Montpellier working with the Global South countries. This analyze shows that three profiles of participants can be distinghuished: those having a positive opinion on the collective and institutional actions for reducing the environmental impacts of research, those who have a mixed opinion, and those who are very critical and reluctant to these actions. 

In the next year, we plan two main actions: i. conducting in depth interviews with scholars and institutional actors to analyse the lever and obstacles to the evolution of practices at the individual, collective and institutional levels, and ii. doing a state of the art of the different collective and institutional initiatives for reducing the social and environmental impact of research in Montpellier, and analyzing the synergies and antagonisms. 

We plan to program a large event in 2022 for raising debate about how to reduce the social and environmental impacts of research int the Global South, and raise perspectives for future initiatives on this topic. 

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