Centre for Unframed Thinking (CUT)

The Centre for Unframed Thinking (CUT) is an initiative by Rennes School of Business (Rennes SB) and its partners to foster interdisciplinary research at the highest international level and to contribute to the global effort devoted to the analysis of the numerous complex issues raised by ongoing crises. These crises include climate change, emergent pandemics and technological transitions. Such transitions have not only fueled major innovation and adaptation processes at a business level, they have also generated fundamental questions from both individual and social perspectives that cannot be convincingly addressed by simple adjustments to existing frames of thinking.
Dr Raouf Boucekkine, Managing Director of CUT, Associate Dean for Research

CUT is the first business school-based Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) worldwide. It is innovative in several respects, in particular:

  • It places ecology (and other life sciences), environmental and energy sciences and technology studies at the heart of its scientific programmes. This choice was influenced in part by the nature of ongoing transitions and the associated strategic trends (for example, decarbonisation and digitalisation). This does not mean that the role of social sciences and the humanities will be minimised, they will in fact be mobilised to develop much-needed interdisciplinary research on management, leadership, learning, public policies, ethics, economic development, and geopolitics.
  • It welcomes practitioners and non-academics with strong relevant experience from national and international organisations, from the public or private sectors and from the socioeconomic spheres involved in the processes underway. CUT is equally open to high-level independent intellectuals and cutting-edge artists working on issues that are compatible with CUT’s (broad) agenda.

A distinctive feature of CUT as an Institute for Advanced Study is that it hosts relatively short fellowships, generally starting at two weeks and lasting for no longer than 3 months, in order to remain as close and connected as possible to the dynamics of the research projects underway at Rennes SB and with their partners. Among the fellows hosted for shorter periods, senior fellows who are typically world-leading researchers or top managers, are appointed for three-year periods and are involved in the incubation and development of long-term research projects at Rennes SB and with its partners.

Presentation of the launch conference programme on 24 March 2022

Inaugural conference 24 March 2022 Rennes School of Business

Digitalisation: blockchain assets and digital sovereignty

Conference CUT Rennes School of BusinessDigitalisation is one of the most salient traits of the ongoing transitions, and it’s also one of the most active research areas at Rennes SB. The theme of Digitalisation: Blockchain Assets & Digital Sovereignty was chosen accordingly.


On the programme:

  • Opening by Thomas Froehlicher, Director General of Rennes School of Business, Céline Azémar, Academic Dean of Rennes School of Business and Sarah Robinson, Co-Director of CUT
  • The Unframed Thinking Talk: What’s is Unframed Thinking in Economics? Moderated by Alan Kirman, economist and Director of studies at EHESS and Raouf Boucekkine, associate Dean for research at Rennes School of Business and co-Director of the CUT
  • Digital currencies: technology and the future of money. Moderated by Jean-Pierre Landau, Professor, Sciences Po, Roman Matkovskyy, Professor of Finance at Rennes School of Business and Rabah Arezki, co-Director of the CUT
  • Digital privacy and sovereignty. Moderated by Olivier Bouin, Director of the RFIEA Foundation, Minggang Zhang, Deputy General Manager of Huawei, Michail Batikas, Professor of Supply Chain and Information Systems at Rennes School of Business and Julien Nocetti, Professor of Finance at Rennes School of Business, holder of the Chair in Cyber Risk Governance.

For the very first Unframed Thinking Talk, Alan Kirman, delivered a broader talk on “unframed thinking” in economic theory. One of the most prestigious economic theorists established in France, Kirman has long been pushing for alternative paradigms to represent and analyse economic behaviour with a better account of cognitive aspects in decision-making and the genuine nature of human interactions. Kirman is also a member of the CUT Advisory Board.

The rest of the conference was entirely focused on digitalisation. Jean-Pierre Landau, former deputy governor of the Banque de France, spoke about digital money and assets, and more broadly, how digitalisation is likely to affect the very nature of money. Landau is one of the most influential European experts on this topic, he has recently co-authored a highly impactful report on the digital Euro for the European Parliament (with M. Brunnermeier). He is also a member of the CUT Advisory Board. Landau’s talk is completed with a discussion by one of the Rennes SB experts on cryptocurrency markets, Roman Matkovskyy.

The last part of the conference was the first CUT Policy Panel which was devoted to Digital Privacy & Sovereignty. Minggang Zhang, deputy Director General of Huawei France, has accepted to open the debate with a talk on the principles guiding Huawei in the face of the emerging national and international regulation packages concerning digital privacy and sovereignty, and their technological counterparts. Michail Batikas and Julien Nocetti will complete the panel with further economic and geopolitical analysis respectively.

CUT fellowships

A distinctive feature of CUT as an Institute for Advanced Study is that it hosts relatively short fellowships, generally starting at two weeks and lasting for no longer than 3 months (a typical fellowship in the IAS system is one semester or an academic year). This choice is essentially in order to avoid compromising on the scientific excellence criterion and to stick as closely as possible to the dynamics of the research projects underway at Rennes SB and with its partners.

As standard in the IAS system, fellows are external to Rennes SB and its partners. They are invited and/or selected upon public calls to foster interactions at the highest level with Rennes SB and their partners’ researchers. In the case of CUT, fellows are either leading national or international researchers, distinguished non-academic experts from the socioeconomic sphere and major national and international institutions, or independent intellectuals and artists.

Two forms of fellowship will be put into practice:

  • Senior fellows: Appointed for three years, with up to two visits per year. These recurrent visiting fellows are mainly involved in the incubation and elaboration of long-term research projects. They may also be solicited for mentoring or occasional teaching/public engagement events (see below).
  • Visiting fellows: This category corresponds to short-term visitors, typically one or two weeks. They are mostly invited to participate in a given event (to CUT campuses, for example, see below) or to contribute to a specific research/advising task.

Other events

Besides producing ideas to serve in the elaboration of high-level research projects, CUT’s activity will take various forms not only in research (the main output) but also in teaching and public engagement. Here comes a short list of selected events.

  • Scientific events: This ranges from the regular monthly CUT seminar to the CUT Campus event (once or twice per year) to occasional seminars or workshops organised according to the presence of interesting academic and/or non-academic personalities in the close neighbourhood or under the solicitation of local and national partners. CUT campuses are meant to bring together once or twice per year (on campus and/or virtually) a group of CUT fellows and researchers from Rennes SB and partners to exchange (and initiate projects) on chosen topics. They include conferences/lectures given by the fellows and group work in close relation to the UBIAS Intercontinental Academy model.
  • Educational events: Fellows will be occasionally invited to teach PhD courses (upon prior agreements) with a dedicated CUT Doctoral Lectures series or to give conferences for the Programme Grande Ecole following arrangements with the managers of this component of Rennes SB. Rennes SB partners who are involved in CUT could also take advantage of this arrangement.
  • Public engagement events: This is an essential component of the CUT programme in order to raise local visibility. The idea is to organise a series of CUT Public Conferences for the general public, typically organised outside the Rennes SB and partner campuses. It is envisaged to organise five to six such conferences per academic year.