The Foundation fulfils several missions: hosting research programmes, housing research networks and infrastructure; it takes part in institutional partnerships (Campus Condorcet), assists in internationalising research thanks to SHS researcher mobility and hosting programmes, and participates in proposing SHS , promoting and diffusing research.

  • Research Programme Hosting

    The Foundation intends to play an active role in thinking about the necessary evolution of French SHS so that these disciplines meet the major challenges of today’s world and respond to the expectations of a society that is undergoing substantial transformation. SHS disciplines can cast a decisive light on many crucial and societal problems. They have an analytical capacity that dispels preconceived notions, draws lessons from the past, and elevates society’s capacity for action. Nevertheless, they need to be located at the most suitable international level and to open up to interdisciplinary dialogue.

    Since 2009, the Foundation’s scientific ambition has been to drive new scientific directions, thus leading its administration to overhaul its scientific policy. Thus, in 2011, the Collège d’Études Mondiales (CEM) and related Chairs were founded (15 active Chairs in 2013, with the creation of three new Chairs in 2014). New impetus was given to the five major continental programmes  (covering Europe, Russia, Asia, Africa, and the Americas), and to thematic and incubation programmes. Most of these Foundation research programmes develop institutional partnerships, often on an international basis, notably as part of the continental programmes.

    One of FMSH’s main scientific policy initiatives involves networking of institutions, teams or researchers, with an imperative of subsidiarity , serving the community’s research activities, regardless of the discipline and with no regional boundaries. The Foundation initiates, proposes, supports, and incubates programmes, but without dominating research activities or results. The projects that it has supported or initiated are intended to operate independently. The Foundation fosters the programmes and contributes its project management expertise. Global awareness of SHS is supported by this interinstitutional collaboration, along with hosting of networks and research centres.

    As part of its scientific activities, FMSH supports and welcomes research teams from very diverse horizons, thus fostering exchanges and synergies across research projects. Since its headquarters, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, were built on Boulevard Raspail in Paris, the Foundation has hosted certain research centres for its historical partners (Sciences Po, CNRS, EPHE and especially EHESS). It currently has 13 “hosted” centres.

  • Hosting Research Networks and Infrastructure

    The Foundation is an institution at the crossroads of the major systems that structure SHS at the French and international levels. It works to strengthen cooperation among institutions.

    The Foundation is home to all national research infrastructures that have received the seal of the French Ministry for Higher Education and Research (two IR research infrastructure projects, plus two TGIR major research infrastructure projects). It stands at the crossroads, thus fulfilling its mission as a facilitator of exchanges and synergies among various SHS research players: among researchers, including those that are thinking about structuring the SHS field, in order to increase the European presence of French research, to facilitate multidisciplinary cooperation, and to help host foreign researchers. FMSH does not just host these structures; it also contributes to these research networks and infrastructures, via its involvement in the governing bodies of some of them and by assisting them in thinking about the policy for structuring SHS research at the local, regional, national, and international levels, at the request of the Ministry.

    IR Research Infrastructure Projects Hosted at FMSH

    • The Foundation is a member of RNMSH, a national network that groups together the 22 Maisons des Sciences de l’Homme (MSH) in France. This Scientific Interest Group (GIS) has been recognised by the French Ministry for Higher Education and Research as a research infrastructure project, or IR. RNMSH is a network whose purpose is to unite, structure, and drive momentum for SHS research. Its joint missions are laid out in its Charter, which contains five “Principles” to orientate the activities of the 22 Maisons des Sciences de l’Homme: an interdisciplinary approach, interinstitutional momentum, an international focus, a regional presence, and a unique scientific identity for each MSH. FMSH hosts the network’s administration and carries out administrative and financial management tasks. (
    • FMSH welcomes the Network for Internationalising Advanced Science (NEFIAS), focused on international mobility of SHS researchers and recognised by the French government as a major research infrastructure (IR).

    Since 1 March 2013, the two major research infrastructures (IRs) in SHS, namely RNMSH et NEFIAS, have been combined into a Mixed Service Unit (UMS 3603) within the CNRS. This Mixed Service Unit is entitled SHS Structuring and Internationalisation (SISHS). It is attached to INSHS, and FMSH is a partner and host institution.

    Major Research Infrastructure Projects (TGIR) Hosted by FMSH

    • Huma-Num, digital humanities programme: a network of digitalisation, standardisation, and access interface platforms, created from the merging of ADONIS (digital access to scientific resources and archives) and CORPUS (a cooperative platform for SHS documentation facilities). (‎.
    • Progedo: PROduction et GEstion des DOnnées (data production and management) for SHS (international investigations and access platform for public statistics). (

    Networks Hosted by FMSH

    • Alliance Athéna for social and human sciences, whose mission is to facilitate coherent research strategies and improve the French SHS research system. FMSH is a member of Alliance Athéna’s board, alongside CPU, the CNRS, CGE and INED1. (
    • The Foundation initiated and is a founding member of the Paris Institute for Advanced Studies (Paris-IAS), alongside the Île-de-France Region and the City of Paris. It incubated and hosted Paris-IAS until November 2013. (
    • FMSH is a founding member and the host for the RFIEA (the French Network of Institutes for Advanced Study), which has been recognised with the Labex (Laboratory of Excellence) seal of approval. (
    • Since 2004, the French Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs has charged FMSH with the responsibility of promoting the daily scientific activities of the 27 French research institutes abroad (IFRE), notably via an Internet portal. (

    1 Athéna regroupe les acteurs clés de la recherche française en SHS : le CNRS, les universités représentées par la Conférence des présidents d’université (CPU), les grandes écoles représentées par la Conférence des grandes écoles (CGE) et l’institut national des études démographiques (INED). Ils constituent les membres fondateurs.


  • Institutional partnership: Campus Condorcet

    As part of the strategy for regional restructuring and increased coherence in SHS research and training, driven by the French Ministry for Higher Education and Research, FMSH has played an active role in major institutional partnerships in Paris and the Île-de-France Region over the past years:

    • It is a founding member of Campus Condorcet, the “City for Humanities and Social Sciences”. This campus, dedicated to SHS, has the ambition of giving visibility to the research and training at around 15 institutions in the Île-de-France Region, while giving them a European and international scope. This future campus will notably be equipped with a GED, or major documentation facility, whose collection will be mainly built through the collections of the FMSH Library. The Foundation intends to play an essential role in the governance of this GED and in creating digital tools for the future campus. (
  • Internationalisation: Mobility and Hosting of SHS Researchers

    Maison Suger, entrance hall

    Since its inception, FMSH has fostered internationalisation of SHS research, thanks to initiatives for researcher mobility. It manages major research fellowship programmes and foreign research invitation programmes (incoming and outgoing scholars). The Foundation welcomes nearly 500 researchers from around the world each year:

    • For the period covered by the COFUND European postdoctoral mobility programme (2011-2015), FMSH manages €2 million in funds allocated to 240 nine-month postdoctoral fellowships (“Fernand Braudel-IFER Fellowships”).
    • The DEA Programme (Directeurs d’Études Associés, or Associate Research Directors) funds short-stay invitations for foreign scientists. The Foundation helps these fellows integrate institutions of higher education and research in Paris and the Paris region.

    Maison Suger, a centre for research, scientific events, and housing for researchers, provides excellent facilities for the Foundation’s guest researchers, in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Around 30 foreign researchers are hosted by Maison Suger at any given time (i.e. around 250 people per annum) for short or medium stays. Maison Suger was designed to be a place to live and work, and it fosters exchanges among researchers from all disciplines and nationalities.

  • Promoting SHS, Boosting Research, and Diffusing Knowledge

    To implement its policy of supporting efforts to promote and diffuse knowledge, FMSH has specific advantages or applies an incentive policy for the diffusion of scientific culture using collaborative tools:

    • A specialised SHS research library, created in the early 1960s thanks to donations from guest researchers and international partners (including the Ford Foundation). This library provides its readership with a very international collection containing over 500,000 works, most of which are hard to find in other university libraries in France.
    • Éditions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, a publishing service founded in 1976, publishes works resulting from the research carried out as part of the Foundation’s research programmes. An increasing proportion of these publications are done online, in electronic format. Its catalogue includes nearly 2,000 books and periodicals.
    • FMSH-Diffusion is a service of the Foundation dedicated to the distribution of scientific books in SHS. It comprises: an online bookstore (Le Comptoir des Presses d'Universités), which makes publications available to the public via its website (, including Foundation works and publications of around 50 university presses ; Le Comptoir des Presses (located in Rue Claude Bernard in Paris) ; the Interinstitutional Centre for Diffusion (CID), which promotes and publishes research works for bookstores ; the University Book Service (SLU), which is specialised in the distribution of targeted publications (more details here).
    • The Audiovisual Research Archives (AAR) are a service at the Foundation that offers free access to a multidisciplinary audiovisual collection.
    • Launched in March 2012, FMSH’s Working Papers are aimed at rapidly diffusing the results of ongoing research as part of FMSH programmes or carried out by guest researchers that benefit from the Foundation’s services. These publications are included in the HAL-SHS archives and published on The Working Papers embody the Foundation’s strong ambition to foster open access to the results of ongoing research.
    • As part of its partnership with Cléo-CNRS (a centre for open-source electronic publishing, sponsored by the CNRS), FMSH fosters the publication of research blogs on the platform.
    • Project engineering cell: a service for the SHS scientific community. FMSH shares its expertise in research project preparation and staff management. Its legal status gives it flexibility in managing resources over multiyear periods, as well as providing research job contracts for guest researchers. The Foundation intends to share all of its expertise with the entire SHS research community.