Dr. Elsa Berthet, Postdoctoral Fellow (2015-17)

I completed a B.A. in life sciences at Paris Sud University (2002), an Agricultural Engineering degree at AgroParisTech (2006), and a M.Sc. in Management of Public Organizations and Policies at Paris Ouest University, Mines ParisTech and ESCP Europe Business School (2010). I hold a PhD in Management Science from Mines ParisTech and INRA (2013). From 2007 to 2010, I worked as a research engineer at INRA (French National Institute of Agricultural Research), where I contributed to setting up a European network coordinating national research programs (20 countries), and to manage national research programs dealing with agriculture and sustainable development. I am now a postdoctoral fellow at the Sustainable Futures Research Laboratory in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences of McGill University, and at UMR Sadapt, INRA. I am also an associate research fellow at CGS, Mines ParisTech.




Project Summary:

Beyond highly productive “agro-systems” in which technical inputs replace ecological processes, and “natural ecosystems” from which human economic activities are excluded, what comprises “sustainable agro-ecosystems” is difficult to define. Indeed, their expected functions are multiple, and their values are partly unknown. My postdoctoral research focuses on the collective design of sustainable agro-ecosystems (AES) which requires innovation in practices, organizations, and in the way we view and manage ecosystems. Such a collective design process faces two major difficulties: on the one hand, AES are open-ended: we do not know at a specific point in time all their potential uses and values for each stakeholder. On the other hand, stakeholders are often in conflict. My hypothesis is that a key to success is to involve stakeholders in a collective exploration process of potentially desirable AES properties, instead of negotiating about known values.

My research aims to contribute to the development of a theory of the collective design of agro-ecosystems. I work in close relationship with ecologists to analyze how to better leverage ecological knowledge for the design of innovative AES. I also work on empirical situations to study the cognitive and governance issues raised by AES collective management. For this postdoctoral research project, I am building comparative case studies between Quebec and France, in which I will analyze how stakeholders have designed innovative governance rules to enhance the sustainability of their AES. This empirical research will be an opportunity to assess to what extent existing agricultural and environmental policies enable innovation at a local scale.

This project is being funded by INRA and McGill University.


Scholarships and Awards:

Contrat d’Attaché Scientifique Contractuel (2010-2017, 6 years) – Funded by INRA

Agreenskills postdoctoral fellowship (2015-2017, 2 years) – Funded by Agreenium

2015: Nominated for the Thesis Prize of ANDESE (Association Nationale des Docteurs ès Sciences Économiques et en Gestion)


Project Publications:

Berthet. E.T., Segrestin, B. and Hickey, G.M. (2016). Considering agro-ecosystems as ecological funds for collective design: New perspectives for environmental policy. Environmental Science & Policy 61: 108-115.