Successful transition

We are delighted to announce that the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES has been renewed for a second four-year period, from 2015 to 2018! The centre's life expectancy has simply doubled... There is no longer any doubt, that with our solid foundations, we are building a long-term centre of expertise on human vulnerability within the context of life course. This research centre must make contributions to reflections and practices in Switzerland and extend its influence internationally.

Since 2011, we have had four exciting and complicated years to do an amount of project work seldom seen in the social sciences, to learn to manage the project, guide it, keep it on course and take painful decisions, while preserving the cohesion and the desire to be together, despite the extraordinary diversity of disciplines and personalities which make up the richness of LIVES. A high point was the visit from our international experts in November, where, on a restructured project split into four cross-over questions, the nine research teams expressed their ambitions and demonstrated that they were part of a collective dynamic. The domains (Equality, Education and Training, Knowledge Transfer, Communication) have reconsidered their strategies according to the shared objectives. A diverse but united front was thus presented and the result met the standards of the research supplied. A favourable report, upon which everyone was in agreement, ended the exercise, followed by the successive decisions of the Council of Research and the Presidium of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

At the end of this experience of vulnerability and resilience, LIVES has bounced back. The centre's governance has been simplified and redesigned. The directorate remain, but from now on with a single board – the LIVES Board – bringing together project leaders and taking on strategic responsibility. The domains are grouped into two boards, the FREE-BOARD and the T-Board, with FREE-BOARD being an acronym for Formation, Relève et Egalité (training, continuation and equality). It is designed as a source of ideas to integrate as effectively as possible the priorities of the new generation of academics and the professional future of young researchers. The T-Board will be responsible for communicating with the media and the general public, but also for transfering scientific knowledge to politicians, institutions, non-profit organisations and the economic sphere. It is absolutely crucial for a research centre on vulnerability and life stages to be anchored, even embedded, in the real world, and to be able to debunk received ideas, clarify representations and help to design solutions. In this regard, an indispensable and fruitful partnership with the Applied University of Applied Sciences and Arts - Western Switzerland is being established. This whole organisation ultimately rests on the shoulders of the LIVES management team and the unfailing commitment of its members.

It is thanks to this mechanism that a wide range of innovative scientific projects is being implemented and made possible. Of course, we should mention the nine main projects, the nine "IPs" as we call them in our jargon, which range from adolescence to old age, covering family, professional, migratory or health dynamics, examining gender and socioeconomic inequalities, processes of exclusion as well as inclusion, accidents of life and resilience. In this transitional period, it is particularly gratifying to see the conclusion of splendid PhD thesis and the growing influence of a young generation full of talent. It points towards a bright future, as do the longitudinal studies which are so delicate to conduct and which see us, over time, going back to see the same people, without neglecting or hurrying the vulnerable, those who suffer, all those who tell us the very real, personal stories of their lives, their highs and lows. They are our subjects, they are who we are studying. It is also for them that we must work in order to understand and act. A simple objective, but a dreadfully ambitious one.

Michel Oris, Co-Director