IDIL: Training through and for research

Next September, eight new Master programs and one engineer program will be available at the University of Montpellier, as part of the IDIL graduate program. What defines them? Students immersed 6 months per year in lab’, courses in English and an introduction to interdisciplinarity. Mathieu Sicard and Agnès Fichard-Carroll are the two project leaders.

At the start of the new academic year, the UM will be opening eight new masters courses and one engineering course, all taught exclusively in English. Why this choice of English?
Clearly, these English-language courses will enable us to increase UM's international exposure, particularly to students capable of studying in English. We're expecting up to 30% international students, while the remainder will be made up of French students who can demonstrate a certain level of English.

A.F-C: Incoming foreign mobility will be fostered by accompaniment of international students: French courses (FLE) and financial help for travels.

This project is part of the Structuring Training through Research (SFRI) program. The UM won the call for projects in July 2020?
Exactly, the project was initially written and led by Agnès Mignot, and was then called UMGS for University of Montpellier graduate school, with a budget of 12 million euros. Agnès Fichard-Carroll and I took over the management of this graduate program last May under the name IDIL for InterDisciplinary In Lab.

Master's courses with the IDIL label are described as pedagogically innovative. What new things do they offer students?
IDIL promotes learning through and for research. From the Master 1 level onwards, students will be offered six months of gratifying immersion in a laboratory. The second feature is the master's program's openness to interdisciplinarity and the unprecedented role given to mentoring.

A.F-C: Internship gratification being guaranteed, I hope it will allow students in financial difficulty to be less hesitant to register for a master program.

Who will these mentors be and what will their role be?
Mentors will be researchers or teacher-researchers whose role will be to coach and support a student throughout his or her in-lab internship, but not only that. Each mentor is committed to introducing the student to other researchers, guiding him or her in his or her reading, choice of courses, conferences to attend...

Can all researchers be mentors?
M.S : Yes, all researchers belonging to units involved in the Muse program. Their disciplinary field must correspond to one of the nine courses on offer. Mentors will be recognized for their commitment to the training of IDIL students.

The students will spend six months in the laboratory and the rest of the year on the university benches. How will the teaching be structured?
You can't spend six months in a laboratory and have as many teaching units as the others. Students will choose their main units, which we call " core units " from a catalog. Here again, the mentor will have a major role to play in guiding the student towards the courses most suited to what he or she will be doing in the laboratory.

Will they share the same courses as students enrolled in traditional Masters courses?
Yes, these masters courses will be anchored in existing courses, which means that the teaching units concerned will have to be taught in English, or at least in a bilingual version.

A.F-C: Schedules can be really puzzling. It is not about disturbing the existing, but about sharing it with IDIL students. If the professor in charge do not want or cannot assure the conversion of his course in English, he will be accompanied in the translation, funding has been planned to this purpose.

What disciplines are covered by these master's courses?
M.S: There are eight: ecology, biology-health, agrosciences, chemistry, science-politics, management, modeling and geology-hydrology. These are just the first ones. The program is scheduled to run for eight years, with the possibility of opening up to 30 courses. The engineering course is based on the same laboratory immersion arrangements, but is open to students training at the École de Chimie, Institut-Agro and Polytech. It has already been prefigured in the Parcours-Research -Ingénieur, which opened in 2021.

A.F-C: It is worth mentioning that IDIL programs gathers pre-existing master tracks from different departments of the university of Montpellier. IDIL project will also stimulate exchanges between those departments.

You speak of openness to interdisciplinarity, in what way are they interdisciplinary?
These are not interdisciplinary Masters programs; students graduate with a degree in their field. However, in addition to their " core units ", they can choose " opening " units that offer an introduction to the disciplines of other courses. For example, a hydrology-geology student could take an opening unit in political science or management.

What's the ideal student for this Master's program?
M.S: Not necessarily the best academic student, if that's what you mean. We don't want to make it an elitist program. The ideal student is autonomous, mature, has a real appetite for research and interdisciplinarity, and is keen to experiment with new teaching methods. They must be able to speak English, but as I said, this program is open to French and international students alike.

A.F-C: IDIL’s students must also appreciate teamwork. They do have, even if accompanied, to be real actors of their training.

Are you ready for the start of the 2022 academic year?
We're still working on some of the details of the IDIL training offer, but yes, we'll be ready. We will be recruiting mentors, and of course we invite all researchers and teacher-researchers tempted by the adventure of mentoring to join us. Students will be able to apply from March-April.

Researcher, are you interested in mentorship? Make contact with the person in charge of the master corresponding to your disciplinary field. You can also contact Clémence Breuil, in administrative head of the IDIL project or co-leaders Professor Mathieu Sicard and Professor Agnès Fichard-Caroll.  

Graduate school?

In the Anglo-Saxon model, the graduate school corresponds to the master's and doctorate levels. In line with this structure, the IDIL project is also aimed at doctoral students, and from 2023 will propose the funding of 12 doctoral contracts, also geared towards interdisciplinarity.

Are you a student or researcher interested in the IDIL graduate program? Find out more on our website.