Accèder directement au contenu

Changing Climate, Changing Behaviors

Master in Life Sciences, ENS
BIO_M2_CCCB | Changing Climate, Changing Behaviors
Year and Semester : M2 | S1
Where : ENS, Biology department
Duration : +/- 28 hours
Dates : From October to December on Thursdays, 5:30-7:30 p.m.


Roberto Casati, Institut Jean Nicod, Department of Cognitive Studies, ENS-EHESS, casati chez
Jean-Pierre Nadal, Centre d’Analyses Mathématiques et Sociales, ENS-EHESS




Behavioral change | Evaluation of public policies | Climate crisis.

Course prerequisites

An interest in applied science, in multidisciplinary approaches, in evidence-based policies, in the complexity of debates about how to understand and modify individual behavior in order to produce planet-wide effects.

Course objectives and description

Climate change prevention and mitigation requires behavioral change or reconfiguration of behaviors and policies.
Aims : The goal of this class is to establish a transformational contact between expertise in geoscience and biological sciences and expertise in behavioral and cognitive sciences on environmental issues.
Themes : The course,
1. Draws from the life sciences and geosciences to understand what has an impact on climate change (i.e., the causal chains) ;
2. Draws from economics to understand how to regulate and incentivize citizens and firms to go towards what has a positive impact ;
3. Draws from the cognitive science to understand the psychological and social side of the needed change (how to understand and change individuals’ and groups’ behavior).
Organisation : The class will meet weekly over the Fall semester. Multiple guest lecturers will be featured.


Evaluation has two components : weekly questions and comments on a paper to be read (50% of final grade) and an oral presentation (50%).

Course material and mechanics

Readings and slides will be made available to students.
For the weekly assignment, students are expected to send questions on the mandatory reading 24h before class. (<1000 characters in total, including spaces).
The final oral presentation will be a group presentation (2 or 3 students) of an exploratory project on a pre-defined topic, with advising from one of the course instructors. A specific ppt/odp template will be distributed.
A marketplace session will host external contributions (ONG, etc.) or extracurricular projects by students. Everybody is welcome to sign up for a short presentation of their activities.
Course website : moodles, TBA

Lecture sequence (TBC)

1. Roberto Casati/Jean-Pierre Nadal/ Mathilde Mus Introduction : "Change : Why, Whose, Where, What : and How ?" + evaluation modalities + students’ introduction.
2. Anouk Barberousse (SND)/Fabio D’Andrea (LMD) "Listen to science"
Scientific expertise and scientific consensus processes within the IPCC : how to mobilise and communicate the latest scientific findings ?
3. Alex Cristia (LSCP)/Rita Abdel Sater (IJN) "Chaque petit geste compte"
Implementation of interventions, correlations, causality : what changes for what effects ?
4. Elena Pasquinelli/Hugo Mercier (IJN) "I do not believe in climate change"
Opinion forming, critical thinking, and gullibility.
5. Coralie Chevallier (LNC²) / Laurianne Vagharchakian (DITP) “Psychology of public policies : green behavioral interventions”
Behavioral approaches to public policies - empirical findings (RCTs, controlled lab experiments).
6. Anne-Laure Ligozat (LIMSI) "Think of the environment, do not print this e-mail"
The controversial role of technological innovation : The environmental impact of digital technologies and the rebound effect.
7. Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde (IJN) "A dead elephant is worth 15.000 euros, a live elephant generates touristic revenues worth 1.500.000 euros"
Environmental Behavioral Economics : Can we put a price on nature ?
8. Mathilde Mus (ENS) / Katrin Millock (PSE) "Let’s raise the price of fuel by, say, just 10 cents"
Environmental policies : are they effective and acceptable for citizens ?
9. Jean-Pierre Nadal (LPENS, ENS & CAMS, EHESS) “Modeling collective behavior - the tyranny of small decisions”
10. Gilles Mirambeau (Sorbonne Université)/Chris Bowler (IBENS)/Colomban de Vargas (CNRS Roscoff) "If science must go to the people, can the people go to science ?"
Changing science. Corporate and public involvement, citizen and collaborative science : the cases of Tara Oceans and Plankton Planet.
11. Marketplace session ! Extracurricular personal projects, ONG, external invitees.
12. Student Presentations.
TBD Roberto Casati (IJN), Jean-Pierre Nadal (LPENS & CAMS), Mathilde Mus (ENS) – conclusions.