The PSL School: an in-house training facility that’s integral to the creation of PSL
PSL is creating an in-house school with the aim of supporting the entire university workforce, providing training in new tools and methods and promoting cross-institutional dialogue. We talk with Florence Gelin, Assistant to the Director of Human Resources at Paris-Dauphine and the director of the project.
To begin with, could you tell us how the PSL School project got started? What are its primary goals?
Florence Gelin: The PSL School is an example of how we’ve taken the ideas from last spring about sharing institutional resources and promoting institutional cooperation and put them into concrete practice. The idea of creating a department that was specifically designed to train all of PSL’s employees very quickly emerged as a way to integrate the entire community into PSL as an institution, and employees would benefit from a wider and more diverse range of class offerings. The primary objectives of the facility are to provide all personnel, both administrative and instructional, with high-quality training that’s tailored to their needs. It’s someplace where they can meet and discuss common challenges and help build PSL as an institution by creating a more professional workforce.
PSL brings together researchers as well as technical and administrative personnel from very different fields and with a wide range of skills. How will the training curriculum be defined so as to meet everyone’s needs?
We’re jointly developing a curriculum based on the requests made by employees during their annual evaluations as well as each institution’s objectives. The idea is to respond more effectively to the needs we all share.
FG: Each institution that’s taking part in the PSL School (11 to date) has identified a training adviser. With that network of experts from each discipline, we’re jointly developing a curriculum based on the requests made by employees during their annual evaluations as well as each institution’s objectives. The idea is to respond more effectively to the needs we all share. Those disciplinary experts will also be helping us develop training content that’s specific to each field, such as occupational health and safety, for the same reason. In addition, the training plan singles out areas for priority attention, consistent with PSL’s strategy. It’s been vetted by the Council of Members and will also be approved by each institution.
Higher education is changing, in terms of its methods, the challenges it faces, the way it operates. How will the PSL School help PSL’s institutions keep pace with those changes?
FG: The PSL School’s course offerings should help each institution stay on top of those changes by providing an opportunity to bring its institutional knowledge and methods up to date and expand its inventory of skills.
The three strategic objectives set out in the PSL training plan (internationalization, professionalization, training for research professors) reflect how important it is, in our view, to support the entire workforce at every institution, at a time when the world of higher education and research is increasingly dynamic and constantly changing.
Moreover, we’ll be focusing particular attention on courses related to workplace quality of life and social responsibility, so that those changes can occur under the best possible conditions.
What are some of the flagship courses that will be offered by the PSL School?
We’ll be offering a course on Eloquence and Storytelling that’s taught by a lecturer at Paris-Dauphine. We’ll also be running a stress management workshop led by a research professor in neuroscience at ESPCI Paris.
FG: During this first semester, we’re especially concentrating on courses that prepare students for the competitive examinations, which are very important for administrative employees who want to move ahead in their career or reinforce their current knowledge. We also have a core curriculum of classes that focus on hygiene and prevention, which are concerns common to every institution.
As for instructional personnel, in the fall we’ll be offering a series of courses on improving teaching skills that’s especially designed for new lecturers.
More broadly, we hope to draw on the most effective training initiatives at each institution and adopt them across PSL, so that everyone has access to innovative, high-quality training. For example, we’ll be offering a course on Eloquence and Storytelling that’s taught by a lecturer at Paris-Dauphine who has degrees from ENS and the Ecole Supérieure d’Art Dramatique in Paris. We’ll also be running a stress management workshop led by a research professor in neuroscience at ESPCI Paris.
What are the next major steps in 2018 for setting up the PSL School?
FG: There are three major milestones on the agenda in 2018:
- Each institution’s governing body will adopt the PSL Training Plan.
- We’ll be distributing the first PSL School training program in February for the first semester of the 2018-2019 academic year.
- We’ll be creating a digital resource that allows every employee to look at the PSL School’s course offerings and register online beginning in March.
SMS Support Services at Université PSL
The SMS Support Services – a key example of how PSL’s member institutions are gradually being integrated – were the focus of an in-depth review during 2017. Based on the principle of subsidiarity and complementary support, the SMS programs are PSL services operated whenever possible by individual institutions on behalf of the entire PSL community. As with the Joint Research Units, the personnel allocated to the SMS program remain employed by their university of origin and retain the same job status.
Four SMS Support Services were introduced at the start of 2018:
- The PSL School (Paris-Dauphine),
- Call for Proposal Support Services (ENS),
- Pensions (Chimie ParisTech),
- Information systems (PSL/EPHE).
Nearly a dozen more SMS Support Services are currently under consideration; a preliminary evaluation of the program will be conducted in 2020.