New cohorts show the way

In 1965, the demographer Norman Ryder wrote that only the birth and the entry of new cohorts of young adults into a population allows for social change and innovation. Our doctoral students who are finishing their PhD dissertation and are now ready to take off represent new cohorts of researchers who will bring about innovation in social sciences research. But new cohorts are also those future citizens who are currently attending secondary school and will one day actively participate in society. We devoted the LIVES summer newsletter to these new cohorts.

Our centre of competence in research shines under the light of all the completed dissertations. Nineteen doctoral theses have been defended in these almost five years of activity and twelve just in the current academic year. The few examples chosen in the next pages bear witness to the extent to which our no longer junior researchers have been successful in combining original data, advanced analytical strategies, and courageous research questions to reveal several faces of vulnerability. Topics like unemployment, social inequalities as causes of differential youth mortality, educational outcomes of disadvantaged young people, or subtle discriminations towards highly skilled foreigner workers are under the microscope. The publications issuing from these researches were well received in the media and provided new insights into scientific and public discourse on vulnerability and resilience.

Innovation is also to be expected from younger cohorts, given the enthusiasm of the secondary school pupils engaged in discussing life course and vulnerability issues though the LIVES-homemade game and workshop, which form the Kalendaro project. Through an enjoyable collaboration of our researchers with partners like the Foundation education 21, and soon the Applied University of Education of the Canton of Vaud, classes are experimenting with this multi-faceted pedagogical activity introducing them to the major concepts of life course and of social construction of inequality.

Where new cohorts enter, older ones exit. Our indefatigable LIVES Co-Director Michel Oris, in charge since 2011, will migrate out of the LIVES Board of Directors in mid-July 2015 to join the rectoral team of the University of Geneva. He will become the Vice-Rector for research, equality, and human resources. We wish Michel all the best in his new position and tell him au revoir et un grand merci! and we welcome with a warm bienvenue! Eric Widmer, Leader of IP208, and new Co-Director for Geneva.

Laura Bernardi, Deputy Director