Our History

Tr-10 ans
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In 2016, celebrating the ten years of the existence of the MSH was an opportunity to look back on all the accomplished work, the process which enabled the local Social Sciences and Humanities (SHS) to be clearly identified on a national level: the various Maisons des Sciences de l’Homme are indeed a prominent marker of the twenty greatest French universities. Moreover, this anniversary demonstrated to a large extent the importance of SHS research, in a constantly evolving world in which landmarks and explanation about the meaning of life are as necessary as ever. On this day, a round table discussion reunited the successive directors of the MSH since its very creation, to build a feedback on the first ten years of existence of the institution, as well as a reflection on how the most important dimension of its missions, interdisciplinarity, is implemented.


The successive directors

  • 1999 – 2004: Jean-Luc Fray, Professor of medieval history
  • 2004 – 2006: Sylviane Coyault, Professor of French literature
  • 2006 – 2009: Laurent Jaffro, Professor of philosophy
  • 2009 – 2013: Laurent Rieutord, Professor of geography
  • 2014 – 2020: Jean-Philippe Luis, Professor of contemporary history / Assistant director, Michel Streith (DR CNRS)
  • 2021 – …: Sophie Chiari, Professor of English literature

From 1999 to the present day 

The origin of the MSH can be traced back to a research department of the late Blaise Pascal University, the “Maison de la Recherche”, a part of the “UFR Lettres, Langues et Sciences Humaines”, established in 1999. In May 2004, this institution derived from this “Maison de la Recherche” – enhanced with external team members (including psychologists and education sciences specialists) and with the wish to trigger local collaborations – obtained the MSH national network label and signed its charter.

After being acknowledged, every SHS discipline had to be regrouped under the same roof to create new synergies, and thus avoid the presence of a scattered scientific environment. However, the second local university, the Auvergne University, which was at the beginning part of the project, rapidly moved away from it, meaning that the SHS disciplines within this structure (law, management and economical sciences) did not join the MSH. In 2006, the MSH evolved as it initiated a procedure to be recognized as a UMS (“Unité mixte de service”, an entity created after the union of a university and a research organism). The label was acquired on January 1st 2008 (UMS 3108, under UBP and CNRS supervision), and enabled the MSH to develop team services, as well as innovative interdisciplinary programs. All this work led to the recognition as a USR (“Unité de service de recherche”) in 2012 with the same double administration, and a primary CNRS connection to the INSHS and a secondary connection to the INEE (“Institut écologique et environnement”). The status that were elaborated in 2012 were finally signed by the administrations in 2014.

On January 1st 2017, the fusion of both local universities led to the progressive integration of three SHS laboratories of the former Auvergne University, including the legal experts of the Centre Michel de L’Hospital. In 2018, it was the turn of the managers of the Clermont Recherche Management (CleRMa) and in 2020, the economists from the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches sur le Développement International (CERDI) joined the movement. Today, the MSH (UAR 3550) unites 15 laboratories on the entire Clermont site, to which one can add Ressources, a research group from the ENSACF, the national school of architecture.

In 2000, the MSH was relocated in Rue Ledru, in a renovated building with an approximative surface of 3,450 m2. This convenient location – near the city center, the SHS departments and the university library – constitutes a true asset for the attractivity of the unity and the welcoming of the public. Thanks to its geographical location and the quality of its equipment, the MSH managed to become a privileged spot for scientific events organized within the university, not only for the SHS, but also for other events organized for the entire university (honorary doctors’ ceremonies, Legion of Honor awarding ceremonies, interviews of external personalities…), and for other local SHS key players.

A tribute to Mr. Jean-Philipe Luis

Jean-Philipe Luis passed away after undergoing a long series of hardships. Many of us deeply feel the emptiness in the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Clermont-Ferrand. He was a historian with an international renown, specialized in contemporary Spanish history. He was appointed director of the MSH in 2014 and implemented a great number of interdisciplinary connections, an approach highlighted by the numerous seminars and symposiums that took place. He followed the idea of reuniting the two universities of Clermont, by including in the process new scientific fields, such as law, sociology, management and economy. He gave the institution a new dimension, by creating new positions, developing new technologies, archeology, encouraging the creation of database, resource pages, filmography, pillars of recognition within the national network. Jean-Philippe Luis was undoubtably a great director, with a tremendous amount of energy and determination, supporting numerous research projects, working tirelessly toward interdisciplinarity inside the local laboratories and Social Sciences and Humanities, leading to the recognition and reputation of an institution that really mattered to him. He was able to transmit his influence and enthusiasm. He was always attentive, always uniting us, reinforcing our synergies, encouraging us to be better. If one word could summarize the way he led his team, this word would be “benevolence”. Jean-Philippe Luis was a fair and loyal man, with a sharp mind, a defender of righteous values, open to others, friendly and with a great sense of humor. Dynamic, available and attentive to every initiative (especially within the scope of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region, the ANR, Europe, and I-Site). His personality left a warm and welcoming mark upon a home and a team, which shall honor him and his legacy.

The MSH team of Clermont-Ferrand and its associate laboratories.