Research in Geosciences and Environment
In the realm of international academic policy, our Faculty undoubtedly offers one of the most attractive projects; indeed what could be more important, interesting and fascinating than the study of the Earth’s complexity and the relations of humanity with this environment in its cross-disciplinary dimension?
In view of our society’s increasing vulnerability in the face of natural threats, and growing pressure on ecological and hydrological systems due to global warming and the quickening pace of urbanisation, it is clear that an integrative vision, rooted in particular in the environmental and Earth sciences, will grow in importance as time goes by, not least because of the impact it may have on our choice of society and political decision-making.
By grouping in a single organisational unit the natural and human sciences taught at UNIL in various disciplines, the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment embodies these challenges in a highly objective way. Few other Universities have hitherto had the vision or the courage to do likewise. Their number includes several scientific “heavyweights” such as Columbia University with its Earth Institute, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) with its Competence Center Environment and Sustainability (CCES).
This cross-disciplinary Faculty project rests explicitly on the classic Humboldtian ideal of academic freedom and excellence, and involves regulated interaction and exchange between different scientific disciplines embracing a minimum of shared values. The latter, in our view, are as follows:
- excellence and integrity in research and its communication;
- respect for the diversity of scientific principles and ideas;
- altruistic cooperation and the free exchange of ideas;
- accountability to all academic partners and to the general public.
These cross-disciplinary and in all likelihood universal values are – implicitly or explicitly – shared by virtually all leading research bodies. By consistently adhering to them, it should be possible to ensure not only a high level of university research, but also, thanks to ever more integrated study plans, more fluid communication between the different disciplines represented in the Faculty.
The Faculty seeks to abide by these fundamental values through its determination, in its evaluation and recruitment policy, to pursue an uncompromising strategy of academic excellence.