Name of laboratory:  Cultures, Environments, Arctic, Representations, Climate (CEARC)

Discipline: Land use planning, Economy, Anthropology, Interdisciplinary studies

Directer: Jean-Paul Vanderlinden, the directorship is de facto shared with Alexandra Lavrillier and Katia Radja

CEARC is: 


Since the birth of CEARC, we:

  • contribute to the development of the research by welcoming French and foreign researchers, participating in research programs (international, national, regional ...), disseminating the results of research conducted in the scientific community (publications, colloquia) ;
  • develop research activities within multidisciplinary projects that (1) link Human and Social Sciences with Environmental Sciences and (2) address arctic issues ;
  • develop a teaching programme for bachelor and master students that is based on our research activities.



At the initiative of the professors Jean Malaurie and Jan Borm, and with the support of the Presidents of the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yveline (UVSQ) and CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), CEARC was created in 2009 as research laboratory (UR 4455) within the Observatory of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines (OVSQ), a component of UVSQ.

The CEARC premises are located in the OVSQ building in Guyancourt inaugurated in 2010 and shared with the LATMOS laboratory and the Pierre Simon Laplace Institute.

Initially called " French Institute of Arctic Studies " then renamed " European Centre for the Arctic " to better include colleagues from outside the UVSQ, CEARC initially devoted itself to research in human and social sciences on the circumpolar Arctic (Siberia and the western Arctic, Greenland and Fennoscandia). In 2011, CEARC became one of the first three associate members of the University Arctic, the largest international network of higher education and research in the Arctic countries.

Several UVSQ-colleagues from the research centre REEDS realized that they were working on similar topics with complementary methods. Following joint participation in research projects and significant contributions to the teaching in the ‘Master of Arctic Studies’, the REEDS team “Environment-Sciences-Society” developed a close relationship with CEARC. The team progressively addressed the issue of adaptation and transition as a result of global environmental changes.​

In March 2013, colleagues coming from another research centre made the decision to join CEARC in order to prepare for a restructuring the led to the current five-year plan. CEARC has since been renamed « Cultures, Environments, Arctic, Representations, Climate ».​ (French name « Cultures, Environnements, Arctique, Représentations, Climat ») in order to explicitly make space for the incoming team.

With the integration of the new members, CEARC built a research team dedicated to addressing the emerging issues of adaptation and transition. In the analysis of these issues, a strong focus is placed on interdisciplinarity and on the study of the Arctic.



Since March 2013,  CEARC consists a core group of academics dedicated to being a research team whose mandate is to build a transdisciplinary practice around two central themes: 1) the Transition-Adaptation as Intertwined ConcepTs (TRAITs) theme and 2) the Circumpolar Arctic (ArcT) theme. 

The Arctic theme examines the issues of circumpolar Arctic societies, cultures, and their representations facing of changes of yesterday and today.

This involves several disciplines and research objects such as:

  • history of Arctic discovery and exploration ;
  • ethnohistory and anthropology of arctic societies ;
  • challenges of climate change and sustainable development, in particularly those related to natural resources and tourism ;
  • economic, political, social and cultural adaptations of the contemporary Arctic populations etc. ;
  • cultural productions of Arctic societies and in particular education.


Adaptation focuses on the study of the interactions between human societies and their changing environment within the various conceivable sustainability paths. It is in this context that the study of transition is an important research topic. The term transition can be described as overused, because it is used in different approaches that we will describe as sectoral (energy transition, ecological transition, etc.), which neglect the various brakes generated by the complexity of economic, social and cultural developments ... and tend to ignore the lessons of history, for example by analyzing socio-technical transitions (technological innovation) and the transformations of both living environments (eg: urban concentration) and socio-political.

The new field that has adopted the term "transition to sustainability" is based first of all on a postulate: repeated, invasive, global crises and the accumulation of pernicious problems are not attributable to practices that are would be able to reform gradually and marginally, but to a deficit of sustainability of our policies, or even the socio-political system itself. In this sense, the transition to sustainability is a radical transformation, taking place over a long period of time, by paths that are far from being straight and for which we can observe accelerations, slowdowns and even backtrack.



The adventure goes on......

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