From culture, adapting to digitalisation, to creating a harmonious future – we look at the key themes and learnings of the 2021/2022 season of Les Conférences de l’INSEAD, held in French.
With its beginnings rooted in 1987, Les Conférences de l’INSEAD (or INSEAD Conferences) have become an annual opportunity for the Fontainebleau community to reflect on and discuss current topics whilst looking ahead to the future. Henri-Claude de Bettignies started these conferences and since then has organized sessions on various subjects with the participation of speakers from diverse backgrounds of academia (166 in total, of which 25 were INSEAD professors): philosophers, politicians, economists, sociologists, psychologists, business and ONG leaders, writers and many more.
These sessions aim to offer diverse views and unpack the complexities on topics of contemporary debate. They also serve as an avenue to inform and share knowledge with the everyday community whilst also uncovering ways to get involved. More recently, the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society has been involved in the past two seasons, with Executive Director, Katell le Goulven continuing to be an active panellist in all the sessions since the start of this collaboration with the Hoffmann Institute.
Kicking off the first session on 23 September 2021, Marie-Christine Labourdette, President of the Chateau de Fontainebleau focused on the rich cultural heritage in France. “France is lucky to be a heritage superpower. It has a network of exceptional richness with 1,121 sites classified as UNESCO world heritage sites.” Speaking about the importance of nurturing an interest in cultural heritage in all levels of society, she highlighted that “the experience of museums generates knowledge and positive emotions for all the visitors.”
Discussing digital transformation that is disrupting value chains on 21 October 2021, Emeritus Professor, Paris IX-Dauphine University, and Member of the National Digital Council, Joëlle Toledano, addressed whether people are able to adapt to the unlimited ambitions of large international corporations like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Explaining the impact of these platforms, she addressed how it “becomes an addiction, and we enter into the world of private regulation,” and how the objective of this world is to “retain the attention of users to recover data and maximise advertising revenue.”
The third session took place on 18 November 2021 with INSEAD Professor, Maria Guadalupe. Speaking about the new models of organisations, she unpacked the implications and shared how people can seek opportunities within this transformation. Giving a brief historic overview of organisations, she analysed their impact on social mobility and wealth creation, sharing how a paradigm shift occurred with the Renaissance, which led to “the birth of the modern organisation,” where a good worker is not stuck in a mobility band but “can evolve to become an entrepreneur.”
Addressing a different kind of evolution in society, Islamologist, Writer and Associate Researcher, Rachid Benzine, delved into ways to create a harmonious future within society in the 16 December 2021 session. Starting off with an important point, he said, “We must be wary of representations in general … it’s a bedrock in terms of assumptions that is rarely questioned.” In light of great debates, controversies and proposals, he highlighted that “we are in a time of tension,” and unpacked various social, political and psychological factors in the way society at large understands Islam.
Closing off the INSEAD Conferences was the final session on 27 January 2022 with Psychiatrist, Writer and Member of the Academy of Technologies and of the National Digital Council, Serge Tisseron. Uncovering our relationship with artificial intelligence, algorithms and machines, Tisseron expressed deep concerns with how pervasive screens and other connected speakers have become in our lives, emphasizing the fact that these devices today “have insidiously taken root in our present day lives.” As a psychiatrist he further warned parents of the need to educate their children to adopt better habits and to make an effort to “civilize these devices.”
After five impactful and thought-provoking sessions, we thank all those involved in the conferences, with a special mention to Professor Henri-Claude de Bettignies for pioneering knowledge-sharing beyond INSEAD’s campuses and into global societies. We look forward to the next round of conferences in the next academic year and hope to continue engaging with the Fontainebleau, and the global online community.