Interview with Isabelle SEVERIN – Lecturer at AgroSup Dijon

Practical information: Bulk or Pre-Packaged Products: Serving the Consumer’s Interests
Mar 2017
Interview with Bruno SIRI, CNE’s General Delegate
Apr 2017

Interview with Isabelle SEVERIN – Lecturer at AgroSup Dijon

Isabelle Severin AgroSup Dijon

Could you please introduce your position and AgroSup Dijon’s activities in a few words?

I am a lecturer-researcher in an engineering school, AgroSup Dijon. This school was created in 2009, when the ENESAD – College of Agriculture – and the ENSBANA – College of Agro-industry – merged. Today, this school trains engineers in these two specialities. Personally, I teach Health Security in the Agro-Industry section. I am also in charge of a 2nd year option and a last year specialisation in food-contact packaging. On the research side, I am attached to a team from both the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research & the University of Bourgogne, in which a special department (DERTTECH) has been created. This department’s aim is to be an interface between research and industrialists. There, we do our studies in vitro – on cultured cells or bacteria – and analyse the potential toxicity of packages migration (cytotoxicity, genotoxicity & endocrine disruption).

 The CNE organises conferences to your 2nd year students in order to popularise the world of packaging.

  •  What are your thoughts on these interventions? 

The CNE’s intervention takes place at the beginning of our 2nd year optional module on packaging, which gathers about 20 students every year. The aim of this module is to have them discover the industry of food-contact packaging. The CNE’s conference introduces them to this industry with numerous examples of food products and the way they are packaged. It underlines the important link existing between these two topics. Furthermore, the conference opens on the concept of eco-design, which is a theme linked to sustainable food – a topic the school wants to put forward.

  • What are your students’ feedbacks on these conferences? 

The CNE has been coming for two years now, and I’ve always had good feedbacks from our students – it usually helps them discover aspects they hadn’t thought of.

  • At the end of the day, do these conferences tempt them to specialise in packaging when in 3rd year? 

Our students have to pick their last-year specialisation in February, just before the optional module. This option is their last 2nd-year teaching unit, and then they leave for a 6 months internship in a research laboratory abroad. Thus, most of the time they have already picked their specialisation by then, but we have already seen students changing their minds and picking a specialisation in packaging after this module.

Do you have any suggestions to improve this intervention?  

For now, there is nothing to add. The actual organisation works fine for us.

In 2017, the CNE and AgroSup Dijon grow even closer, since two students are participating in the “Container/Content Compatibility” Working Group (WP). Their mission is to interview stakeholders in the world of packaging.

Regarding your experience with students, was this mission aligned with your educational expectations? Do you have any idea of what the students get from it (autonomy, contacts with stakeholders, difficulties encountered and solutions brought, CNE follow-up, etc.)?

This mission was truly unusual for us: it required numerous business trips and meetings with professionals. Nevertheless, it was actually a real opportunity for our students, since they got to improve their professional network and better understand the industrialists’ real issues. That way, they realised how diverse practices within companies are.

Regarding the project in itself, it would have been great if the students had been included in the actual writing of the guide – or at least a part of it – or had drawn up a non-exhaustive list of associations/expertise firms for industrialists to contact should they need advice/information. Instead, they only wrote the interviews’ summary. The project follow-up was quite good, even though the students had quite a bit of a rough start when drafting the questionnaire – they did not really know which information were necessary – and when they tried to get in touch with the persons to interview; something that was harmful for the rest of the project – despite Mr Siri’s help.

What will you remember in terms of the mission’s management, and how could we improve it?

This mission went quite well: our students have shown autonomy and initiative, if only by setting up business trips to Paris and interviews. They had frequent contacts with both Mr Siri and I, which allowed us to follow the project’s progress and get on some contacts again in order to have more answers. Suggested improvements from us would lie in the schedule optimisation – which is currently based on a 15-days changeover for the students – preventing them from being continuously available for the project (trips, meetings). Nevertheless, they exchanged by e-mail and analysed interviews during the period dedicated to classes.

You took part in the Working Group’s meetings. What will you remember of this collective intelligence experience contributing to the CNE’s document redaction?

Indeed, I had the opportunity of being present for the Working Group’s (WP) first meeting when redacting the “Container/Content Compatibility” Guide. This gathering of such different people from diverse areas was really interesting; it helps having every industry’s point of view. Nevertheless, one can feel that everyone has its own very decided opinions/ideas/practices and that it is really difficult to change it, even when having other participants’ comments.

As a lecturer yourself, would you be willing to repeat this experience within another WP, and promote the interest of such a collaboration with the CNE towards other schools?

I think it was truly an interesting first experience. The ideal thing would be to set up the work time according to the students’ schedule so they can participate more in the final work redaction, or even better, create bigger groups (4-5 students) for them to write it down entirely.

Regarding the promotion of our collaboration towards other schools, I have no problem with it. I think the CNE’s intervention on-site is a good way for it to gain visibility. As for the students’ participation to projects created by the Council, it depends on the schools. Indeed, many of them have specific financial claims for their last year’s projects limited partners – which can be a burden when setting up this collaboration.