The main goal of the INTP is to promote a broader practice of science by fostering creativity, interdisciplinarity and pressure-free research for a variety of profiles from academics to independents and citizen scientists.
To pursue this goal, the institute has a physical campus in the French Pyrenees : a sanctuary to do science and push our limits in a stimulating, friendly, inclusive, collaborative and community-based environment. More specifically, the campus is a place where 1) regular scientific activities are organized or hosted such as journal clubs, science jams, workshops, working groups, summer schools; and 2) guests that vary in status and fields of study are welcomed for collaborative or personal work. Our scientific activities are most of the time shared on-line to be available to a wider audience.
The institute has two secondary goals. It aims at pushing interdisciplinarity across scientific boundaries, as well as toward the arts by hosting artists for retreats and developing projects involving art and science. It is also committed to disseminating science to a wider audience, through partnerships with other local organizations, and participation in concrete actions with and for citizens.
The following values are transversal to all our goals, and each one represents an important axis of improvement for us in the future.
We strive below to state our current standing as honestly as possible: how we feel we are both succeeding and failing to hold to these values, and how we are actively looking to improve in the present and the near future.
We are all concerned with the sustainability of contemporary life, and many of us are actively doing research in relevant topics such as ecology and climate change. Yet, most scientists live a highly unsustainable life, with high-consumption urban living, frequent global travels for visits and conferences, and many other more specific impacts tied to scientific practice (e.g. experiments and data processing).
We have a lot of room for improvement along this axis. We believe we are taking more action than the median scientist, mainly as individual lifestyle choices that we rarely experience as constraints: living in the countryside, favoring local and sustainable products and energy. But we still maintain comfortable consumption habits, have only partially reduced our own travels, and plan to keep welcoming international visitors.
In the near future, we plan to improve our food sourcing (growing an increasing fraction of it), utilities efficiency, investing in solar energy and an electric car for short trips; we are thinking about quantifying our impacts to best identify our most problematic practices and habits.
Inclusion and income barriers
The INTP was conceived as a place that can warmly and safely welcome any person with an interest in research, regardless of their personal or economic background. We are affronted at the current inequalities in science, and highly unsatisfied by the largely symbolic attempts to mend them.
We believe that economic and institutional inequality is a dramatic multiplier of all other inequalities, and we feel we are doing our best to minimize it, by offering those who need it the opportunity to participate and benefit from our activities at no cost, with no credentials, and with flexibility to different lifestyles.
Nevertheless, the current membership of INTP is highly skewed along most demographic axes (gender, ethnicity, etc.). Our group has coalesced from fields that have catastrophic representation, and continuing without guidelines cannot lead us to more equality.
We currently operate with a simple rule of thumb: whenever we reach out to external people and must select some of them (as audience, visitors, residents, potentially future members), we commit to achieving better representation in our selection than in the pool of candidates, by as large a margin as possible, with the ideal of achieving full parity.
The INTP is meant to be a place where we can:
One of the realizations that started this project was the following: in many branches of fundamental research, one is either a career scientist, or out of the game entirely.
Many former researchers and students fall in the second category. Especially in the natural sciences, there is little scope for research done part-time, alongside another activity, or as a vocational and free activity.
Another realization was that public scientific culture is overwhelmingly about knowing rather than about doing, about information rather than practice, when compared to artistic, musical, craft or technological culture.
We believe that these two weaknesses of the dominant model dramatically restrict how science is made, and deter true open and interdisciplinary research.
We wish to provide a space for different rapports to science, without sacrificing any of the depth and rigor that we have been trained to appreciate. We may even want to outperform some aspects of academia on these axes, by relieving ourselves of the pressure of grant-seeking, premature publication, excessive specialization, and other much-decried but rarely addressed ills of contemporary science.