An unprecedented training by and for research between Shanghai and Paris


9 Chinese students from one of Shanghai's top universities in the field of Humanities and Social Sciences started their PhD theses in 2017 at two doctoral schools. This was an opportunity to revisit a partnership of excellence between Fudan University and the LabEx TransferS.

Etudiants chinois de l'Université Fudan de Shanghia lors de la cérémonie de diplomation de l'alliance française de Shanghai partenariat ENS Labex TransferS

Ranked among the very first Chinese education & research centers, Fudan University, which excels notably in the field of human and social sciences, was founded in 1905 at the end of the Qing Dynasty in Shanghai. It has trained many Chinese scientists and since 1998 has been part of the "League of 9 Universities," a group of nine institutions that represent only a small percentage of students but have received significant funding from the Chinese government in its effort to give new impetus to high-level training and research. It is therefore natural that, as of 2012, Michel Espagne, director of the TransferS Labex, based on existing collaborations between the Ecole normale supérieure (ENS) and Fudan University, initiates a partnership of a new type. The aim is to train, during a three-year course, young Chinese students - in the departments of Chinese and Comparative Literature, Foreign Languages and Literatures, History and Philosophy. The students chosen are destined to pursue studies in doctoral schools of PSL. Five researchers from ENS go to Fudan every year to organize seminars designed as initiations for research. To counteract a certain decline in academic francophonie and to meet Chinese expectations, this preparation for doctoral studies is accompanied by an intensive French as a foreign language study program at the Alliance Française de Shanghai. After three years, students without prior knowledge of French, but having completed the training of the Alliance française and the courses of the program, may consider enrolling in a PSL thesis in Paris.


 Représentation illustrée du programme de formation pré-doctorale entre l'université Fudan et le Labex TransferS (PSL). Deux étudiants se rejoignent sous les caractères chinois signifiant "Sciences Humaines"

Twenty Chinese students will be carefully selected to access the interdisciplinary predoctoral program. At the end of the three-year course, all students will present a doctoral project. Among them, ten will be offered to engage research in a PSL laboratory, in particular at the ENS.

The selected students then benefit from the support of Fudan's University authorities in applying for a Chinese Scholarship Council thesis grant (€1,200 per month over four years). A first class started its thesis at PSL in September 2017. A second promotion is expected in 2019. The doctoral candidates will be studying in one of the new PSL research graduate school, TransLitterae, formerly known as the TransferS Labex.

Ma Jiening, a student at the ENS doctoral school, shares enthusiastic comment

"To do a thesis at the École normale supérieure in Paris has long been a dream for me. This partnership allowed me to achieve this through the training both general and specific I received. The series of lectures-intensive courses given by ENS professors and specialists have greatly enriched my knowledge, and allowed me to choose my thesis subject from a very broad perspective. I hope that my new student status at a world-renowned school will be of great benefit to my future research."

Ma Jiening is doing a PhD on La réception de Montaigne en Chine (Montaigne seen from China) under the direction of Isabelle Pantin (Literature and Language Department of ENS). She has been a sucessful candidate of 2017 Fulei Price in the « Jeune pousse » category for her translation of the Tocqueville book: Les Sources Aristocratiques de La Liberté : Biographie Intellectuelle, Lucien Jaume (published by Shanghai Sanhui Culture and Press Ltd./Lijiang Publishing).


Chinese Conferences of Ulm Street

Every year, four Fudan professors come to ENS to give lectures and there is great hope to see a number of ENS students engage, not necessarily in the career of Sinologists, but in an exploration of science in China – the topic is likely to attract historians, philosophers and comparatists as well.
Under the direction of Michel Espagne, a book named Conférences chinoises de la rue d'Ulm (Chinese conferences of Ulm Street) draws up the list of all lectures given by 9 teachers from Fudan university in the ENS from 2014 to 2016. 

Photos credits: Université Fudan