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 the ongoing crises. These include climate change, emergent pandemics and the technological transitions. Such transitions have not only fueled major innovation and adaptation processes at the level of business, they have also generated fundamental questions from both individual or social perspectives that cannot be convincingly addressed by simple adjustments to existing frames of thinking.
Dr Raouf Boucekkine, CUT managing director, 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 programme. This choice is informed by the nature of ongoing transitions and the associated strategic trends (for example, decarbonisation and digitalisation). This does not mean the role of social sciences and the humanities will be minimised as they will 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 public or private sectors as well as from the socioeconomic spheres involved in the processes under way. CUT is also open to high-level independent intellectuals and cutting-edge artists working on issues compatible within CUT’s (broad) agenda.

A distinctive feature of CUT as an Institute for Advanced Study is to host only relatively short fellowships, generally to two weeks and not longer than 3 months to stick as closely as possible to the dynamics of the research projects under way at RSB and partners. Among the fellows hosted, senior fellows, typically world leading researchers or top managers, are appointed for three years, and are involved in the incubation and in the development of long-term research projects at RSB and with its partners.

Presentation of the launch conference programme, 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 Digitalisation: Blockchain Assets & Digital Sovereignty has been 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 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, will deliver a broader talk on unframed thinking in economic theory. Kirman, being one of the most prestigious economic theorists established in France, has been pushing for alternative paradigms to represent and analyse economic behavior with a better account of cognitive aspects in decision making and the genuine nature of human interactions. Kirman is a member of the Advisory Board of CUT.

The rest of the conference is entirely focusing on digitalisation. Jean-Pierre Landau, former deputy governor of the Banque de France, will talk on digital money and assets, and more broadly, on 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 (with M. Brunnermeier) a highly impactful report on the digital Euro for the European parliament. He is a member of the Advisory Board of CUT. Landau’s talk is completed with a discussion by one of the RSB experts on the cryptocurrencies markets, Roman Matkovskyy.

The last part of the conference is the first CUT Policy Panel, 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 the technological counterparts. Michail Batikas and Julien Nocetti will complete the panel with further economic and geopolitical analysis respectively.
All the sessions are duly moderated and selected questions will be taken from the audience.

CUT fellowships

A distinctive feature of CUT as an Institute for Advanced Study is to only host relatively much shorter fellowships, not longer than 3 months per year, and generally within 2 weeks (a typical fellowship in the IAS system is one semester or an academic year). This choice is essentially motivated by the concern not to compromise with the scientific excellence criterion and to stick as closely as possible to the dynamics of the research projects under way at RSB and partners.

As standard in the IAS system, fellows are external to RSB and partners. They are invited and/or selected upon public calls to foster interactions at the highest level with RSB and 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 in practice:

  • Senior fellows: They are 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 at RSB and partners. They may also be solicited for mentoring or occasional teaching/public engagement events (see below).
  • Visiting fellows: This category corresponds to short-time 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

Beside 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 a regular monthly seminar, simply called the CUT seminar, to the CUT Campus (one or two per year) through occasional seminars or workshops organised opportunistically depending on the presence of interesting academic and/or non-academic personalities in the close neighborhood or under the solicitation of local and national partners. CUT campuses are meant to bring together once or twice per year (in campus and/or virtually) a group of CUT fellows and researchers from RSB and partners to exchange (and eventually initiate projects) on chosen topics. They include conferences/lectures given by the fellows and group work, pretty much in line with 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 give conferences in the Grande Ecole following arrangements with the managers of this component of RSB. RSB partners involved in CUT could also take advantage of this device.
  • 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 a general public of the city and neighborhoods, to be typically organised outside the RSB and partners’ campuses. Five to six conferences per academic year would be a good frequency.