Human Sciences Institute in Brittany

a research unit promoting interdisciplinary research at the heart of societal challenges

Dynamising research

in the humanities and social sciences

Operating as a ‘Unité de Service et de Recherche’ (USR CNRS 3549) (research unit that accommodates technical, administrative and research personnel), the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme en Bretagne (MSHB – Human Sciences Institute in Brittany) brings together all the humanities and social sciences research laboratories from across Brittany. Created in 2006 at the instigation of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Brittany’s four universities, the MSHB is one of a national network of 22 Human Sciences Institutes (RnMSH). The MSHB is driven by dialogue on the most pressing societal issues and epistemological disciplinary questions. Its activities are aimed at humanities and social sciences researchers who belong to one of its seven supervisory bodies: CNRS, École des Hautes Études en Santé Publique, Institut Mines-Télécom Atlantique, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, Université de Bretagne Sud, Université de Rennes 1 and Université Rennes 2.
As part of its five-year programme, the MSHB has redefined its scientific identity into three areas:

• Anthropisation & Anthropocene
• European identities & transitions
• Democracy, experiments & transformations

These 3 areas cover the scientific priorities of Brittany’s four universities as well as the region’s new research and innovation outline strategy (S3) and the societal challenges proposed by the major national and European operators.
These research areas are sustained by issues that comprise the conflicting demands and implications of the notions of use, practice, behaviour, representation and controversy.

Graphics projects

Graphics projects


To support, structure, stimulate and increase the visibility of research in the humanities and social sciences

The MSHB’s mission is to develop interdisciplinary collaborative research. To this end, it certifies interdisciplinary research projects and supports the creation of interdisciplinary working groups with a programme of targeted activities.

This scientific certification gives research projects access to funding and research support services, in particular technological platforms. The project selection procedure is based on several expert appraisals.

Since 2006, more than 170 research projects have received support from the MSHB.

Certification from the MSHB implies that the project complies with the 5 principles set out in the MSH charter (in french):

Interdisciplinarity: projects must be interdisciplinary in terms of both mobilising different disciplines in the humanities and social sciences and developing interactions with other disciplines such as computer science and medicine.

Inter-institutional: projects must have the potential for regional structuration through mobilising teams from several different institutions.

International: an international orientation is highly desirable.

Scientific identity: projects must be in line with one of the MSHB’s research areas.

Regional registration: the project leader must be a permanent active member of a Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) research laboratory located in Brittany (researcher/lecturer, research fellow, research director, research engineer).

Research areas

Our research activity focuses on 3 research areas

Anthropisation & Anthropocene

While anthropisation refers to the transformation of ecosystems and spaces, the Anthropocene, conceptualised by the chemist Paul Crutzen, remains a moot notion that requires the mobilisation of different disciplinary fields from within Brittany’s HASS research units.

By deliberately combining these two notions, this research area opposes the conflicting demands and implications of the way in which the HASS study human beings and the way in which they contribute to decentralising points of view on the non-human.

This research area looks at both purely theoretical, and even speculative, questions and more practical and applied questions, including:

  • the transformation of the material life of humans
  • the ecological transition and practices of measuring, evaluating and monitoring human behaviour
  • the arguments and range of affects mobilised when action is taken
  • education on the environment and good living
  • transformations in food products (agricultural and processed) and eating habits (plant-based and local foods)
  • the phenomena of de-anthropisation and preservation of the natural world
  • changes in our perception of the environment (marine, coastal, rural and urban)
  • the coherence of rationales for sustainable development, a green economy, biotechnologies and industries of the future.

European identities & transitions

This research area considers Europe as an object of study or as a framework for research. It involves all the disciplines in the humanities and social sciences and aims first and foremost to monitor and shed light on the multiple crises that Europe is currently experiencing (Brexit, migrants, Covid, the rise of populism, complex relations with Russia, China and the United States). This research area also seeks to examine the most singular and humanistic aspects of the European project. The comparative approach could be one way of dealing with these questions.

The following themes are indicative:

  • the way in which convergences and divergences can give rise to a common trajectory
  • the variety of cultures and different representations of countries in Europe
  • digital regulation (GAFA – Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon ), digital sovereignty and digital life (GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation)
  • monetary union and trade flows
  • multi-level governance
  • uniformisation and territorial cohesion
  • Brittany’s European identity and its presence at European level

Democracy, experiments & transformations

Inviting us to consider the Breton territory as a real-life laboratory, this research area welcomes projects that showcase the ways in which the humanities and social sciences study social transformations.

The research area covers the following themes:

  • the production of the common good  and harmonious coexistence
  • the social utility of science
  • the social and solidarity economy
  • co-construction by academics and actors in the field
  • action research
  • territory as a laboratory for social transformation
  • participatory democracy and digital technology
  • ‘dissonances of the ordinary’  and the pluralities of everyday life
  • people in difficulty and health deterioration and prevention
  • the question of social acceptability

Peer panel

The peer panel is made up of a dozen members with an in-depth knowledge of the MSHB who represent the disciplines and sites it covers. These members are notably former research laboratory directors or deputy directors, former research cluster managers and former project leaders.

This panel evidences an interdisciplinary approach to the MSHB’s scientific activities and maintains a comprehensive overview of all the research areas. It demonstrates knowledge of Brittany’s research ecosystem, including the non-academic research world (social innovation and non-academic actors), and maintains an international outlook. It also plays a role in supporting and representing the MSHB’s management team in strategic areas (HS3P-CRISES (a coordination unit focussed on environmental and health crises), cybersecurity, etc.).

    The peer panel meets at least twice a year and gives its written recommendations to the CNRS Scientific Board for projects submitted within the context of the certification programmes. It can be invited by the president of the Scientific Board to attend meetings. It can also be contacted by project leaders during the process for advice on the relevance of their project in relation to the themes set out under the scientific research areas. Finally, the panel can be consulted by the MSHB’s management team on the suitability of setting up a working group within the MSH.


      supporting research

      Opened in 2017, the MSHB building provides purpose-built research spaces. It is located on the École des Hautes Études en Santé Publique site, near the Université Rennes 2  campus.

      The MSHB offers researchers a meeting room and a range of shared spaces (200-seat amphitheatre, boardroom and conference room). These spaces are equipped with videoconferencing systems to facilitate collaboration between researchers. The MSHB also provides general services (administrative and financial support, project engineering, communications), an editorial centre and three digital platforms.

      Acting as interfaces  for two Very Large Research Structures (TGIR – Très Grandes Infrastructures de Recherche) HUMA-NUM and PROGEDO, the Humanités Numériques (digital humanities) platform and the Plateforme Universitaire de Données (PUD  – university data platform) provide access to a range of services and infrastructures that aim to support researchers in managing their qualitative and quantitative data.

      The mission of the Plateforme d’Expertise pour la Mobilité Intelligente (PEMI – platform of expertise in smart mobility), which is intended for the use of both private and public actors, is to support the development of innovative digital solutions in the field of mobility.


      Management board

      Nicolas Thély


      Françoise Le Borgne-Uguen

      Deputy director

      Immaculada Fàbregas-Alégret

      Deputy director

      Isabelle Ganzetti-Gémin

      Secretary General

      Administrative team

      Angélique Mahé

      Financial manager

      02 22 51 44 02

      Sonia Pasquier

      Financial management assistant

      02 22 51 44 07

      Yolande Sambin

      Project Manager

      02 22 51 44 08

      Morgane Mignon

      Coordinator of the digital humanities platform

      02 22 51 44 06

      Élisa Mabille

      Digital Corpus Editor

      02 22 51 44 17

      Viviane Monel-Villa

      Scientific & technical facilitator

      02 22 51 44 15

      Florence Daniel


      02 98 01 60 38
      06 84 37 67 19

      Anaïs Paly


      02 22 51 44 09

      Catherine Riéra

      Communications officer

      02 22 51 44 05

      Ludivine Guého

      Scientific Coordinator of the Platform of expertise in smart mobility

      02 23 22 58 54

      Laura Leconte

      Project Engineer for the Platform of expertise in smart mobility

      02 23 22 58 87

      Jaidê Rocha-Blaire

      IT & Audiovisual Technician

      02 23 22 58 74