Institute of the Contemporary World


The Institute of the Contemporary World brings together Chairs held by five Collège de France professors:

◊ Anthropology of Nature
Professor Philippe Descola

◊ Contemporary Arab History
Professor Henry Laurens

◊ Sociology of Creative Work
Professor Pierre-Michel Menger

◊ Modern and Contemporary History of Politics
Professor Pierre Rosanvallon, Director of the Institute of the Contemporary World

◊ The Social State and Globalization: A Legal Analysis of Forms of Solidarity
Professor Alain Supiot


Excerpt from an interview with Pierre Rosanvallon, published in the Lettre du Collège de France (issue 14, June 2005)

“The idea of creating an ‘Institute of the Contemporary World’ emerged gradually. It finally imposed itself from an intellectual point of view, as the interests of several professors were increasingly intersecting. One example of this is reflections about globalization, Mireille Delmas-Marty writes about the conditions leading to legal universalization. Roger Guesnerie, an economist, has drafted a number of reports for the French Council of Economic Analysis (CAE) about environmental issues and global warming. Henry Laurens, who holds the Chair in Contemporary Arab History, is considered a specialist of a region where many of today’s political, economic, cultural and religious tensions and concerns are concentrated. My own exploration of transformations in contemporary democracy also very much call for the development of a comparative approach. Likewise, the Chair in Rationality and Social Sciences […] explores the methodology of contemporary social sciences, which is once again a common interest. And finally, […] Philippe Descola’s Chair, which focuses on issues of natural anthropology and has ties with the very extensive library held by the Social Anthropology Research Center, will also be part of our Institute of the Contemporary World. The relationship between Man and Nature is indeed one of the key issues of today.”


The Institute of the Contemporary World (Institut du Monde Contemporain, IMC) is dedicated to the knowledge of contemporary societies. On one or more of the professors’ initiative, the Institute hosts a number of seminars, workshops and symposia focusing on interdisciplinary issues that require common reflection by the different Chairs (anthropology, international law, economics, politics and social sciences) which compose the Institute.
It is a highly flexible structure which, within the Collège de France, aims to enrich intellectual exchanges and common or closely related projects by offering a platform for collective research and interdisciplinary approaches.

Pierre Rosanvallon is currently the Head of the Institute.

IMC Chairs (except for Professor Descola’s, which is based in the Cardinal Lemoine offices) have been grouped together in the Collège de France’s recently-renovated buildings on Rue d’Ulm. The architectural renovation also reflects the specificities of the Institute’s intellectual project, working process and collaboration. The Institute of the Contemporary World finds inspiration in the active global networks the different Chairs are part of. The facilities have been designed to foster intellectual work, either individually or collectively, thanks to small seminar rooms as well as larger conference halls, and allow us to welcome numerous guest scholars from around the world.