Research and Engagement

Research and public engagement of researchers

The growing involvement of researchers in the public debate has led UNIL’s Rectorate to initiate a reflection on this issue.

This topic was submitted to researchers from all faculties, brought together in a working group by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Research in Ethics (CIRE) and the Competence Centre in Sustainability (CCD). The working group met thirteen times between April 2020 and May 2022 and independently defined the themes, approaches and methods that it deemed relevant to mobilize in this perspective. In particular, it conducted a survey and focus groups with the UNIL community in the spring of 2021.

The working group's reflections were primarily aimed at clarifying the issues related to the engagement of scientists in the public debate and at better understanding the practices and perceptions of the UNIL community in this respect. The reflections and conclusions of the working group, as well as its recommendations to UNIL’s Rectorate, are presented in the report. This report is accompanied by an annexe (in French) detailing the results of the survey.

Report of the Working Group

 Report of the Working Group on Research and Engagement - May 2022

 Rapport du Groupe de travail sur la recherche et l’engagement - en français - Mai 2022

 Annexe: résultats détaillés de l’enquête UNIL sur l’engagement - en français - Juin 2021

Contacts for further information

Augustin Fragnière, Competence Centre in Sustainability
Nadja Eggert, Interdisciplinary Centre for Research in Ethics


Members of the Working Group

Name Faculty
Butera Fabrizio SSP
Chaperon Danielle Lettres
Chèvre Nathalie FGSE
Demay Clémence FDCA
De Perrot Marc Secrétariat général
Eggert Nadja CIRE / FTSR
Fragnière Augustin CCD
Gagnebin Philippe UNICOM
Goudet Jérôme FBM
Kaufmann Alain ColLaboratoire
Palazzo Guido HEC


What role for researchers in the public debate?

As part of this work, a discussion panel was organized by CCD and CIRE entitled "What role for researchers in the public debate?" on June 15th 2020.  At a time when social, environmental and health challenges are multiplying, a reflection on the links between research and public engagement is more necessary than ever. What is the role of researchers in the public debate? Does this role imply certain responsibilities and limits? Does engagement and activism have an impact on research practices? How should a scientific institution position itself about this issue? These are some of the questions that were addressed in this debate.
The debate included six researchers who shared their thoughts and experiences on the topic of research and engagement:

  • Alexandre Aebi, Professor of Agroecology, University of Neuchâtel
  • Oriane Sarrasin, Lecturer in Social Psychology, UNIL
  • Valérie D'Acremont, Professor of Tropical Medicine, UNIL
  • Joëlle Salomon-Cavin, Lecturer in urban geography, UNIL
  • Jérôme Goudet, Professor in Population Genetics, UNIL
  • Luca Fumagalli, Lecturer in Conservation Biology, UNIL

What role for researchers in the public debate? - debate