The RFIEA supports the development of the French IAS through the mission tasks defined in its statutes, its agreement on objectives and the priorities defined by its Board of Trustees. It undertakes the following tasks:
• institutional dialogue and visibility
• co-financing of IAS activities
• communication and promotion of the IAS
• international influence of the IAS
Apart from supporting the development of the IAS, the mission tasks of the RFIEA as defined in the agreement on objectives are to:
• promote scientific interaction in order to build up excellence in humanities and social science research in France, and work towards the emergence of new and original intellectual interconnections and the opening up of new research perspectives
• prepare new generations of French scientists for research conditions at the international level by furthering their involvement in interdisciplinary exchanges with eminent foreign researchers
• contribute to the design of evaluation tools for the benefit of the humanities and social sciences, and particularly of the institutes for advanced study.
The objectives of the Foundation are defined as follows:
The RFIEA acts as an intermediary for all of the Institutes in negotiating a number of legal arrangements and preferential conditions. For example, it negotiates the conditions for the secondment of university staff and for the transfer of researchers to the benefit of the Institutes. It negotiates the terms of the specific social and fiscal status of Fellows in the fields of the humanities and social sciences. The RFIEA tries to utilise the possibilities of co-ordination with its institutional partners in French research — the National Research Agency (ANR), the Association of University Presidents (CPU), the Higher Education and Research Evaluation Agency (AERES), and the National Network of Humanities and Social Science Research Institutes (RNMSH) — to the greatest advantage, and to contribute to thinking on the prospects for structural change in humanities and social science research.
The RFIEA intends to play an active role in obtaining the financial support required for developing the Institutes. The RFIEA’s consolidated budget is expected to reach €3 million in 2009 and to increase to €9 million in 2011. There are therefore considerable additional financial requirements. In addition to spending out of its initial patrimonial grant, the RFIEA obtains financial revenue by benefiting from the investment of its patrimony. It also tries to generate financial resources by taking advantage of its status as a foundation for scientific co-operation officially recognised as serving the public interest. The resources obtained by the RFIEA on the basis of the work programme(s) of the Institutes will be wholly redistributed among them, and the Foundation will allocate other resources generated to the funding of crosscutting initiatives. At the end of the present phase of administrative, real estate and scientific organisation, gaining financial support (whether private or institutional, French or foreign) will depend on the links and partnerships that can be forged through the institutes’ Fellowship policies (chairs, geographical priorities, subject matters). Two multi-annual agreements have firstly been negotiated, with the French national electricity company (EDF) for the benefit of the IEA-Paris, and with the French banking group Crédit du Nord.
The RFIEA co-ordinates the Fellows policies of the four Institutes by facilitating the circulation of information, by assisting the mobility of Fellows within the Network whenever necessary, and by helping to implement operations involving several Institutes. Particular attention is given to post-doctorate researchers, with joint information campaigns and cross-references on the Internet portals of the Institutes. The Scientific Advisory Board of the RFIEA plays an important role in identifying collaborative and innovative crosscutting themes that may usefully complement the Institutes’ activities. These crosscutting themes, along with suggestions from the Institutes themselves, may provide starting points for organising an international conference, a summer school or seminars.
The RFIEA also aims to bring national and international visibility to the work being done in the Institutes. RFIEA’s bilingual Internet site is an international portal to the Network’s activities. This dynamic site, which is presently being set up, will be a truly virtual institute where the themes and networks of guest researchers and host institutions can interact. The site will be of interest to both the researcher community and a wider public. Collaboration on this is envisaged with the ADONIS Very Large Equipment (TGE) project of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and there will be further collaboration on a technological platform for digitising the archives of the Institutes, for publishing, and for unified access to humanities and social science data available in France. In co-operation with each Institute, the RFIEA intends to utilise the presence of guest Fellows in the four IAS to best advantage, and to give media coverage to this by developing appropriate partnerships with various media (publishing, general-interest and specialised press, radio, television and Internet).
The RFIEA is undertaking a truly fundamental task in the area of evaluation. The notion of evaluation will be developed on two complementary levels: on the one hand, evaluation of the work of its constituent IAS, and on the other, a wider evaluation of research activities in the field of the humanities and social sciences. In June 2008, the RFIEA organised an international seminar in Nantes to bring together a number of researchers who are evaluation specialists in their particular disciplinary areas. This first event will be followed by two in-depth seminars to be held in Marseille in January 2009 and in Paris in April 2009. This important issue has been referred to the Scientific Advisory Board as a question of priority. At the end of 2009, these deliberations will lead to the development of appropriate indicators for the implementation of an evaluation policy in collaboration with the Higher Education and Research Evaluation Agency (AERES).