Come challenge yourself and others to think as a free, independent, critical and creative thinker! Hosted Summer school at CRI, July 2018

Summer School 2018 – The 1st (Prototype) Edition

July 12 – 18, 2018. Tour Montparnasse, 20e étage


An exploration of thinking itself: the background activity which underpins all knowledge and action!
A challenge to go beyond your assumptions and mental habits;
An experience of thinking together with (very different) others;
Co-creation of a new program of experiential learning.


Throughout our academic education we encounter various knowledge schemes that help us to navigate the world, solve problems and understand reality. For example, sociology helps us to understand the ways in which we shape our societies; biology helps us to understand the diversity of life and its history; and physics helps us to understand the fundamental laws governing matter and energy in the universe. However, throughout the course of education, something else gets formed which is even more fundamental in its impact than the academic knowledge and specific skills acquired. That mysterious “something else” weaves in as a background, is rarely reflected on, questioned or challenged. It consists of the habits of our thinking, the behavioural patterns of the thought itself.

In learning a new scheme of knowledge you first acquire a new set of categories and concepts which say what your reality is composed of. It may be cells, chimpanzees, social institutions, quantum bits, medical disorders, or other. Thus, your mind learns to continuously search for and recognise these particular objects, among all possible others. Then, you learn which properties are important and relevant in your objects of interest. What qualities do the objects display? Do they act? Why and how? You learn not only to observe these traits, but as well to attribute and presume them. Finally, you adopt your own profession, as a specialist, an expert: you come to assign specific properties and values not only to the objects around you, but to yourself as well. What results from such a formation is a thinker whose ongoing mental activity has became perfectly fit for interaction with a specific set of objects, equipped with a specific set of properties. Fit for a specific profession. Fit for what he or she has been trained for…

Yet, when you consider people who excite and move us, people who make new, transformative contributions —to any domain— you will notice that they were not exactly “fit” in the above sense. They do not follow the prescribed paths, but are able —and dare— to venture out and think in novel ways. Sure, they understand the preexisting know-how and conventions, but they approach them more in the style of Picasso: “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”. Regardless of the type of contribution they make, be it an artistic project, a scientific discovery, a new technique, etc., the difference of their approach starts in their minds: they do something differently in there. Some might say that the difference between such revolutionary thinkers, inventors, artists, and the rest of us, mortals, is genetic, or in the hands of pure chance: these people were simply born this way. Well, that’s one way of… thinking 😉 But this summer, in Montparnasse, we will explore another one!

The Montparnasse Initiative: School of Thinking (MYST) is a new collaborative educational project in which we will flip the foreground and the background of all conventional knowledge and action. While most, if not all, kinds of education aim to provide you with a new frame for your thought to settle in —a new set of concepts, their interrelations, and procedures for you to adopt— MYST aims to challenge you to catch that ‘settling in’ as it happens, over and over, and to learn to direct your thought out of every possible box. Providing an intense workout with multiple well developed frames for thinking (systems thinking, complexity thinking, techniques for creative thinking, etc.) MYST will focus on strengthening the “muscle of thinking” in itself: Do you notice when you are settling for a frame?, Can you make a good use of it, but not get stuck in?, Can you see its limitations?, Can you choose not to adhere?, Can you do all that in touch with others – not against them?, Can you articulate a new path of thinking, however uncharted and new?, Can you see and hear what others think?, Can you withdraw your habitual categorisations?, Withdraw properties? How else could the same phenomenon be framed?, How different would it appear and act?

The intended learning outcome of MYST is a radically strengthened disposition of each participant towards free, independent, critical, creative thinking — towards its open-minded, collaborative, confident articulation — and towards supporting and strengthening these dispositions in others. By observing the background mental activity of our habitual thinking and interactions, and by getting to know how to stir and direct that activity, we develop the power to reshape the world as it appears to and affects ourselves. By doing that together, with others, we develop the power to reshape the real world — as it appears to and affects everyone! Once we can do that, we instantly turn into the revolutionary thinkers and artists ourselves, regardless of the genotype. Even more than that: we turn into magicians…


The purpose of the 1st Summer School of MYST is to prototype and develop the program. Each training module will be delivered for the very first time and should be understood primarily as a demonstration: a material for other people to experience and provide feedback on.

While the overall flow of events will be similar to that of a regular summer school (classes, exercises, lectures, …), the social composition of the school will be different. Instead of the traditional setup in which the students are present all the time, while the instructors make their appearance only individually or in duos, the group of participants will include all the already recruited prospective instructors (12-14 people), along with the contributors to be recruited from within the CRI ecosystem (12 people) and the general public (up to 4 people).

All participants will thus be asked to assume a triple role: (1) of a student, who works on their own thinking skills, (2) of a curriculum developer, who assesses and provides feedback on the coherence and the educational value of the program, and (3) of an active contributor, who either teaches some module(s) of the program, or takes care of another scope of responsibility (detailed below).


July 12-18, 2018 (excluding July 14 or 15 – TBC which one)


Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI)
Tour Montparnasse, 20e étage
33 avenue du Maine, 75015 Paris

Note: the evening Reader’s Club discussions and the Saturday/Sunday events will take place outside the CRI location.


All members (students, teachers, researchers, affiliates, …) of the CRI ecosystem, as well as unaffiliated candidates, are welcome to apply to participate free of charge.
It is expected that each admitted participant will:

  • Participate in the full course of the summer school,
  • Acknowledge the ‘prototyping’ status of the program and actively contribute to its development,
  • Volunteer to take care of one selected scope of responsibility.

In order to apply please send an email to: by Friday, June 29, 2018.

In your email please provide:

  • Your name and affiliation,
  • Your contact handles (Slack, Skype, WhatsApp),
  • The scope of responsibility you are willing to take care of (if indicating more than one possibility, please sort them in the order of your preference).

Available scopes of responsibility:

  1. The Space Maker: keep the room (chairs, tables, flipcharts, whiteboard) appropriately arranged (1 person – 5 days)
  2. The Tech Nerd: organise and setup the beamer, screen, connectors, cables & troubleshoot if needed (1 person – 5 days)
  3. The Reader’s Club leader: select & reserve a bar/restaurant suitable for the discussions (1 person – 4 evenings)
  4. The Reader’s Club presenter: select a paper (your own or someone’s else) to be discussed (2 people – 1 evening each)
  5. The Camera(wo)man: prepare the video documentation of the most interesting moments (1 person – 6 days)
  6. The Photographer: prepare the photo documentation of the most interesting moments (1 person – 6 days)
  7. The Yoga Master: teach the “body thinking” module on Friday (1 person – 1 morning)
  8. The Scout Leader: prepare and print maps for the Saturday walks through the city (1 person)
  9. The Campfire Master: find a place for the campfire, get a permit if needed (1 person)
  10. The Fire Guard: bring the kindling wood, make the fire and keep it going (2 people)
  11. The Kids Club Team: develop and organise a future parallel track of the program addressed to school kids (4 people – the future editions)

Applications will be accepted on the first-come, first-serve basis until all scopes of responsibility are successfully assigned.


Today, anyone can do research!

People involved: Joel Chevrier

Project webpage:

Social media:

Keywords: low cost, motion, education, sensors

Project Description

Hack your Smartphone yourself: use ubiquitous Low Cost High Tech to have your own Pocket Lab, to do experiments anywhere, to scientifically explore the world your own way and to share observation and knowledge. This is inline with CRI’s main role to promote new educational techniques and strategies to empower the students to take initiative and develop their own research projects.
“Doing research is…?”
– Exploring and trying here and now with others everywhere.
– A state of mind based on scientific method and critical mind.

Today, ubiquitous Low Cost High Tech enables anyone to do research anywhere as it:
– Embarks an ever-increasing number of micro-sensors.
– Connects to the world in real time
– Can be equipped with specific pedagogical user interfaces.

However it has not been made for that (far from). Our idea: transform it into great tools for “Doing research is…”

“Hack yourself Low Cost High Tech to do research“ is a project in gestation at the CRI Motion Lab. It is based on an alliance between science and design. Science brings objectivity, scientific method and critical thinking. Design brings out of real/virtual individual/collective interactive interfaces, devices, situations and scenarios. Anybody is offered the benefice of technologically enhanced individual intuition and perception to enter objective and shareable knowledge through research projects. The CRI energizes this fruitful but difficult dialogue: it emphasizes empathy in design and promotes science through research as a tremendously powerful vehicle for anyone to enter, to learn in and to build the world coming.

The project will run with the Motion Lab to explore:
tools, interfaces, situations and scenarios, which can trigger heterogeneous nucleation and even be viral in various contexts: first education but also health, sports, crafts and arts…
A CRI lab model based on mentors and students working together.
Intense links with Les Savanturiers to enter class projects: association of students and teachers to “Hack yourself Low Cost High Tech to do research”.
Collaborations with high-level actors in design, computer sciences, machine learning, audio-video representation… Paris: IRCAM, ENSCI, Gaité Lyrique; Shenzhen: OpenFIESTA and Shenzhen startup environment (SEEED…); Rest of the world: now insufficient more needed.
An open platform, a place where people and information gather to do and flow through: projects, workshops, conferences, lectures, ideas…

Publication and deliverables

Charting future paths of open synthetic biology

The workshop both celebrates the 10 years of the Paris Bettencourt iGEM team and aims to identify current challenges in synthetic biology. The workshop is organized by iGEM and CRI alumni and students in order to also help chart possible research questions that could be answered by future research at the CRI.

Besides sparking exciting discussions between the participants, the workshop mission is to produce a white paper that will be used directly as motivation for a call for CRI Research Fellows.

Shaping our Major Transition

The first CRI Research Advanced Workshop bridged foundational research and societal impact, specifically focusing on tracing past major transitions and understanding and shaping current digital transition. During two intense days, the eclectic mix of eminent thinkers who converged at CRI and worked on identifying the challenges posed by the current digital transition of society, and charting the way forward.

Workshop outcomes – white paper:

The workshop participants collectively identified the most promising and exciting research topics for the near future, which can be grouped in the following four research foci:

(1) major digital transition
(2) designing governance
(3) theory of governance
(4) governance systems for learning

You can read the full document here

Workshop outcomes – videos:

During the workshops, the participants recorded brief video messages. You can find their thoughts on our current major transition, and specifically how that would translate into personal recommendations to an important politician or close family member here.

Thematic Call for CRI Research Fellows on Major Transitions

At the CRI Research, we are basing the first Thematic Call for Research Fellows on these recommendations and hope to attract scientist who wish to pursue some of the questions outlined below. The Major Transitions Thematic call will be open on 13. 7. 2017, with a deadline of 31. August 2017., for more information please check here.

The full list of Workshop participants:

Andrew Black – University of Adelaide
Asa Calow – Manchester Digital Laboratory
Olivier Crouzet – 42
Vincent Danos – ENS
Simon DeDeo – Santa Fe Institute
Seth Frey – Dartmouth College
Francois Fages – INRIA
Sandra González-Bailón – University of Pennsylvania
Gillian Hadfield – University of Southern California
Martin Hilbert – University of California Davis (workshop co-organizer)
Dusan Misevic – CRI (workshop co-organizer)
Grace Neville – University of Cork
Cadell Last – Vrije University
Ariel Lindner – CRI
Rob Lue – Harvard University
Laurent Keller – University of Lausanne
Stefan Klauser – ETH Zurich
Thomas Pfeiffer – Massey University
Paul Rainey – ESPCIParisTech, Massey University
Francois Taddei – CRI (workshop co-organizer)

Control of bacterial cell fate by asymmetric protein segregation

People involved:
Antoine Decrulle
Ihab Boulas
Xiaohu Song
Ariel Lindner

Project description

Some organisms, such as E. coli, previously thought to be dividing via symmetrical division were shown to exhibit heterogeneous phenotypes even within isogenic populations growing in homogeneous and constant environments. This significant cell-to-cell phenotypic heterogeneity has been hypothesised to be resulting from unequal distribution of cellular components. Such paradigm assumes intracellular asymmetry which may either rise from passive molecule segregation or localizing mechanisms.

In this work, we coupled a synthetic approach with lab-on-chip microscopy to control protein segregation in E. coli and investigate the resulting phenotypic implications.

To this end, we fused different proteins to an ionic peptide that self-assembles at the cells’ poles via nucleoid macromolecular crowding effect. We demonstrated their constant asymmetric segregation during numerous divisions in microfluidics using time-lapse microscopy. We also showed retained enzymatic activity in vivo by clustering the aminoglycoside-resistance enzyme (APH(3′)-IIIa) which allowed for asymmetric resistance to Kanamycin within a microcolony lineage.

Our controlled and quantitative approach to protein segregation not only represents a way to cluster proteins and thus favor metabolic channeling to differentiate monoclonal population – but also is a new tool allowing the study of fitness landscape governed by asymmetric division both at the single cell and the population level.