Curiosity and irritation meet Macron’s effort to lure foreign scientists to France

Jun 12, 2017

By Elisabeth Pain

Just a few hours after President Donald Trump announced on 1 June that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate accordFrench President Emmanuel Macronpledged in a video to “make our planet great again” by intensifying efforts to combat climate change — and inviting U.S. researchers who might be unhappy with Trump to work in France.

The French government followed up on 8 June by unveiling a website aimed at attracting foreign scientists with 4-year grants worth up to €1.5million each.

But while some U.S. researchers say the invitation is intriguing, it has irritated some French scientists, who say the move raises concerns about their nation’s commitment to homegrown science. In particular, some French researchers are disappointed that the new Macron government offered grants to foreign researchers before answering their own recent call to shore up funding for struggling research institutes.

“Instead [of a commitment to stable domestic science funding], we get a fancy website which is more an empty shell than anything else,” says Olivier Berné, an astrophysicist and CNRS researcher at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology in Toulouse. He helped organize the March for Science in France, as well as a letter from 1,500 scientists to France’s research minister that spelled out 10 funding priorities for the new government.

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7 comments on “Curiosity and irritation meet Macron’s effort to lure foreign scientists to France

  • @OP – Just a few hours after President Donald Trump
    announced on 1 June that the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate accord,
    French President Emmanuel Macron pledged in a video
    to “make our planet great again”
    by intensifying efforts to combat climate change —
    and inviting U.S. researchers who might be unhappy with Trump
    to work in France.

    I can understand the concerns of French scientists, but what Macron actually did, was respond to Trump’s attack on climate science, (with threats of redundancy, while closing down US job opportunities in that sector), by offering those climate scientists who Trump was trying to intimidate, new employment in France!

    I think this was a two fold action.
    First to weaken Trump’s attack on science, and second to give some assurance and support to those skilled scientists, whose careers are jeopardized by Trump’s attacks and restrictions on employment in shrinking the whole US sector!

    Such people could be employed in French universities teaching American students, if Trump and Jerry Falwell, are ruining US higher education back in the USA. (I have personally worked with American students on British university courses in the UK.)

    I am also aware of Dutch universities running courses taught in English.

    If Trump does set about ruining US higher education, those who care about their children’s future, and the students themselves, may well consider a placement at a foreign university.
    They could even have a foundation course, to fix any inadequacies Trump and Co build into the US school system!



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  • Good on him I say,

    I too get the concerns of scientists however sometimes a grand gesture is needed. A few months ago Elon Musk stepped in and offered to solve South Australia’s energy crisis in a couple of months for free if he couldn’t solve it. I don’t think they went with the plan fully but it changed the debate overnight it made it clear this was not about the unreliability of alternative energy but rather about properly equipping the grid to cope with a mix of energies. So Elon I really hope they buy some batteries off you but if they didn’t the grand gesture did a lot of good.

    Likewise with this I think. Imagine if governments began to actively trying to poach the worlds best researchers and scientists in this field, what signal would that send? What impact would this have on industry? What signal must this be sending to solar and wind companies working in Europe at the moment, how much more confidence would they have in setting up businesses as a result. This is how you ‘make a deal’.



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  • Reckless Monkey #2
    Jun 12, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    A few months ago Elon Musk stepped in
    and offered to solve South Australia’s energy crisis in a couple of months for free if he couldn’t solve it.
    I don’t think they went with the plan fully but it changed the debate overnight
    it made it clear this was not about the unreliability of alternative energy
    but rather about properly equipping the grid to cope with a mix of energies.

    However – In the USA Elon Musk has given up talking to a know-it-all brick wall of ignorance!

    http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/01/news/elon-musk-resigns-trump-adviser/index.html

    Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has quit two of President Trump’s business advisory councils after the president announced he will pull the U.S. out of the historic Paris climate agreement.

    While he was sought as a high profile media celebrity figure, to add some “authority” and status to Trump’s pretence of expertise, Musk was obviously much too competent and well informed to be a Trump advisor.



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  • Hi Alan4Dsicussion

    While he was sought as a high profile media celebrity figure, to add some “authority” and status to Trump’s pretence of expertise, Musk was obviously much too competent and well informed to be a Trump advisor.

    Sad isn’t it. You look back the history of the USA and you think often in terms of who was president and the direction they took the country.

    It’s pretty clear now that at least in this era any positive change is going to happen in individual states and from people like Musk. You get that even if Trump could just stay out of the way of the likes of Elon and individual states that are attempting to do the right thing in terms of the world, but history is going to look at Trump as a fumbling, destructive wrecking ball and a moron. He makes all other politicians (including many dictators) at least look by contrast far more competent.

    It staggers me that people can be so silly as to vote for such a man and expect anything positive to happen. Of course as an Australian, with compulsory voting we voted down a highly competent minority government leader Gillard who passed a record number of pieces of legislation including a carbon tax and we replaced her with someone only a little more competent than Trump the raw onion eating Abbot. And we all had to vote! That unfortunately may make our derision of Trump somewhat hypocritical. It’s all so very depressing.

    It must be nice as an American climate scientist or someone working in the alternative energy sector to think that you might be wanted somewhere, by at least some world leaders.



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  • @obzen,

    The training of scientists in this country has been great for the education sector because we are becoming flooded with highly qualified research scientists who cannot get work with their skills in the world of science. We have an astro-biologist, a physicist, a couple of entomologists. Getting some good skills in there but they all tell stories of important and interesting work they were doing before funding was cut. Our intellectual elite is being passed by and either have to leave home or shift sideways. Still good to have some talented science teachers.



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  • It seems it is not only scientists who Macron is prepared to welcome!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-europe-40268611/macron-says-eu-door-remains-open-to-uk

    Macron says EU door remains open to UK

    French President Emmanuel Macron says the UK can change its mind about Brexit until the negotiations are concluded.

    Speaking at a joint news conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, he said the EU’s door remained opened – but he acknowledged that a decision had been made by the British people.

    He also warned that staying in the EU would be harder the further along the road the Brexit negotiations progressed.

    This is good news as the fanciful lies, Europhobia, empty promises of brexiteers, and the long-hidden damaging negative effects of brexit, are coming to light in public at at last!



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