The RITE Chair: Emerging Risks and Technology: from technology management to social regulation

The RITE Chair seeks to foster public debate on risk and encourage interaction between the scientific community and the political, economic and civic players of the Pays de la Loire Region, . a partner in the project to the tunePays de la Loire region provides a financial support of €380 K over a three-year period.
Managed by the Department of Social and Management Sciences (SSG), this new chair favours an interdisciplinary approach and relies heavily upon work developed by the other departments of IMT Atlantique:

  1. Data security for the Automation, CIM and IT (DAPI Department)
  2. Management of industrial, scientific and societal issues related to nuclear energy and the risks incurred with Subatech (IMT Atlantique, University of Nantes, th French National Centre for Scientific Research - the National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics)
  3. Expertise in environmental imapct with the Department of Energy Systems and Environment (DSEE) - UMR Gepea.


Si nos sociétés innovent et produisent des richesses, elles produisent dans le même temps des risques avec pour certains des effets décalés dans le temps ou difficilement perceptibles. Nos sociétés modernes se caractérisent à cet égard par la multiplication et l’émergence de nouveaux types de risques (environnementaux, sanitaires, financiers, etc.). Le risque s’impose ainsi comme une donnée centrale dans le fonctionnement de nos sociétés modernes.

As long as companies are innovating and producing wealth, they are also incurring risks, some of which have a delayed effect and can be difficult to discern. Modern companies can be characterised in this regard by the increase and emergence of new types of risks (environmental, health, financial, etc.). Risk has therefore become a central issue in the workings daily operations of modern companies.

Let us consider:

  • risks to the future of the planet (pollution, global warming, reduction of biodiversity),
  • risks of nuclear accidents and conflicts,
  • to the risk of new epidemics,
  • risks concerning "democracy" (terrorist threats),
  • risks to which companies are exposed.

The word risk is very present in the rhetoric of experts, company directors, managers and politicians.  It is given particular attention in management training.

The lack of social consensus on what is dangerous or not, on the level of dangerousness or what to do in a situation of uncertainty and, ultimately, on the degree of risk acceptance, are major societal challenges. Indeed, our society is paradoxical: less and less dangerous, but more and more risky. The contemporary proliferation of the notion of risk is as much linked to the great global threats (destruction of the ozone layer, greenhouse effect...) as to the individual behaviours that punctuate our daily lives (smoking, driving...). Environmental or technological risks reveal the gap between experts and lay people and create new democratic demands, while individual risks change the way we view our relationship with others.

"The challenge is to question borders and the sharing of risk management between stakeholders, and also to determine the procedures for risk regulation between public authorities, scientific knowledge and the civic sector", explains Sophie Bretesché, the SSG lecturer who currently holds the new chair.

This goal involves integrating these themes into the training of IMT Atlantique engineering students, but also setting up a region-wide scientific network and informing citizens about preventing and responding to risks. Several initiatives have already been planned to this end, such as organising theme days and citizen debates or inviting respected speakers from national and international universities and Grandes Ecoles.