The Foundation at the Hôtel de Vogüé

The Robert de Sorbon Foundation, formerly known as the Société des amis des universités de Paris, created in 1899, was established as a public interest organisation by decree of 12 May 2009.

The Foundation is now open to the public, with a programme of exhibitions dedicated to innovation in the transmission of knowledge.

Since 1 October 2021, the Foundation’s headquarters have been located at the Hôtel de Vogüé in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, in the former premises of the General Planning Commission.

logo FRS sans typo

Innovating in the Transmission of Knowledge


In 1919, as part of a post-war peace-building initiative, the Société des amis des universités de Paris (est.1899) encouraged the creation of the Cours de civilisation française de la Sorbonne, a course in French as a foreign language for international students. In 1958, the association also benefited from the transfer of the assets of the Société pour l’Instruction Elémentaire, which was established in 1815 under the aegis of Lazare Carnot, and in 1831 was recognised as being of public interest.


The Robert de Sorbon Foundation is governed by a Supervisory Board that includes representatives of the French Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs, the Rector-Chancellor of the Universities of Paris and suitably qualified individuals. The current members are :


  • Jean-François Bensahel, chairman of the Supervisory Board
  • Jean-Jacques Duby, vice-chairman

As institutional representatives:


  • Marine Fabre, representative of the Ministry of the Interior 
  • Jean-François Pactet, representative of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs
  • Christophe Kerrero, rector of the Paris Academy, chancellor of the Universities of Paris and Ile-de-France 

As suitably qualified individuals:


  • Michel Carmona
  • Barbara Cassin
  • Guillaume Métayer
  • François Perret
  • Sabine Wespieser
The Team
  • David Fajolles, chairman of the Directorate
  • Emmanuel Mahé, member of the Directorate


  • Christian Mantei, chairman of Robert de Sorbon Participations
  • Jakob Haesler, innovation & strategy advisor 
  • Pascale Thumerelle, impact & engagement advisor


  • Jean-Baptiste Hennequin, programme advisor
  • Ollivier Pourriol, programme advisor
  • Cécile Ladjali, director of the Baudelaire programme


  • Olivier Dontot, administrative and financial director
  • Eric Monicat, director of human resources
  • Delphine Quoi, director of communications
  • Florian Raoult, operations manager
  • Hannah Balme, programme officer 
  • Julian Cannelle, communications officer
  • Luisa Tabush, intern, programme officer 

The Robert de Sorbon College

The Foundation’s College invites international academic personalities who are recognised as influential in the global public debate. Their residency includes : a public lecture giving their critical analysis of the reception of their research in the outside world; a meeting with their peers; a major interview for the Foundation’s online media.

The College aims to provide academics with the opportunity for a regular dialogue on current strategic analyses, as well as practical tools to strengthen the role of knowledge in public debate.

The Trailblazers

The Trailblazers’ mission is to identify, to collect, and to share innovative practices in the transmission of knowledge.

Each year, a group of ten personalities from all over Europe, and working in academia, publishing, the news industry, or audiovisual production, will take part in a four-stage programme of meetings (lasting 3-5 days each term), including two international ‘expeditions’ aiming to develop a comparative approach to issues of prescription and recommendation, while taking into account the dynamics of power between languages. 

At each location, the Trailblazers will meet with key players in cultural industries and in the dissemination of knowledge. Their aim will be  to share solutions that they have trialled or implemented (reputation building, long tail, popularisation, specialised media, pure players, social networks, content curation, etc.), and also to participate in brainstorming exercises on the emerging challenges of communication and visibility  of knowledge today.

At the end of the year, the Trailblazers will make recommendations for new practices and initiatives, so that they can be used more efficiently by both public and private entities (teachers, universities, institutions, media) in their efforts to address new forms of demonetisation of scholarly knowledge.

Eclaireurs @BertouxQuentin

Quentin Bertoux

The Manufacture of Curiosity

The Manufacture of Curiosity is an innovation hub dedicated to a responsible use of new technologies for knowledge transmission.

Each year, it will select European entrepreneurial projects on the basis of their commitment to promoting linguistic and cultural diversity, particularly in the fields of educational, linguistic, and cultural contents, focussing on responsible research & innovation (language models, translation, content recommendation, experience enhancement). 

The selected projects will be  hosted by the Foundation, and benefit from customized support involving experts, investors, and research universities.

Manufacture @GeorgeMathen

George Mathen