Christine Bolou-Chiaravalli


Professor at the Institut Universitaire de Technologie (IUT), Belfort-Montbéliard

"Success provides intellectual and personal satisfaction that nothing else can replace."

My career path

I’m a professor of modern humanities and have been teaching in higher education since 2000. Since 2011, I’ve been teaching communication and expression, as well as general culture, within the Department of Applied Physics at the Belfort-Montbéliard IUT. In my communication and expression course, I teach students how to write in a professional context, be at ease in their speaking and develop their interpersonal skills.

WHAT drives me. Young people are very much alive – they’re all about action and they make sure I never stop questioning things. I like surprising them with a new way of thinking or a topic that we discuss in class. And I really like it when they go beyond what I’ve asked them even though I thought that I’d already got them out of their comfort zone – then they are the ones surprising me.

I’m driven by several things, and one of them is change. We’re lucky to have schedules that get adjusted all the time because of university constraints and because new students come in every year. Routine is out of the question, especially in a world where technology is king.

The arrival of the smartphone has been a challenge for me. I try hard to prevent digital technology taking over the classroom. The classroom is a place for human interaction – I teach the students methods and they provide me with content.

My career path. For a long time, I kept going for the wrong reasons. I felt like I was an imposter and was sure that one day someone would realize that I shouldn’t be there.

The need for recognition was what drove me in part. Getting my first master’s degree in the humanities made my father happy ; my teaching qualification was reassuring for my mother ; and when I passed the competitive teaching exam, it was a real source of pride for my husband. And I think I kept going with my PhD for my sons. But I did it all for the right reasons – you can learn at any age. Success provides intellectual and personal satisfaction that nothing else can replace.

Four men put their trust in me and gave me responsibilities at key moments in my life. It is because of them that I began teaching in higher education, that I decided to obtain a more technical education and that I became vice chair of a telecom and media association.

A downside or obstacle ? It’s tiring. The world is always changing, which means that our points of reference are in constant flux and we have to keep questioning our positions. Being sure – and remaining sure – about something is much less stressful.

There are several obvious obstacles : you can’t go where you’re not wanted. You can’t go down a particular path unless someone has shown you the way. In other words, it’s not really natural to go somewhere where you’ll be in the minority.

Sometimes you have luck on your side, and you end up somewhere you never thought you would go but where you feel at home. The more paths there are, the easier it is to overcome the obstacles.

There are a lot of women in the human sciences, but few who teach to more technical students. For me, I’ve not abandoned my initial training by teaching IUT students. Instead, I’ve just moved into technology, a field into which more and more young women are slowly but surely venturing.

I’m proud that my students enjoy coming to class to learn that communication is not about language or manipulation. It’s a key skill in the 21st century, as we are all so interconnected. My strong point is that I’ve never stopped learning : in the last 20 years, I’ve qualified as a professor of humanities, earned a master’s in educational science and now I’m in the second year of my PhD in information and communication technologies. I like being able to put forward ideas about what will happen, rather than teaching my students about what has already been done.

The Proust Questionnaire

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Au-delà de votre profession

L’étude ! qui me permet de lire et découvrir le monde sur mon écran et ma famille, dans son tricotage à la Pénélope qui m’oblige à ne pas lâcher mon ouvrage, à le réinventer sans cesse.

Des personnes qui vous inspirent

Ingrid, qui voit plus de solutions que de problèmes, qui a mille idées à la minute et les réalise. Un homme qui m’inspirerait le plus grand respect serait celui qui galvaniserait les énergies pour permettre de réaliser un idéal commun, pas au détriment de certain-e-s. Je ne l’ai pas encore rencontré.

Un livre & un film

Une amie prodigieuse (Elena Ferrante). Je suis petite-fille d’italiens et retrouve dans cette saga tant de ma famille et Bienvenue à Gattaca (Andrew Niccol) pour la réflexion.

Un modèle

Adelaïde Hautval, médecin, fille de pasteur qui a pris la défense de juifs maltraités et a été internée. J’ai milité pour donner son nom à un établissement scolaire ; on compte une dizaine de femmes seulement parmi les cinquante noms les plus donnés à des écoles.

Un objet

Une montre suisse ! mais plutôt une montre gousset.

Une couleur

Petite fille, ma mère m’avait attribué le bleu et je n’ai appris que des années plus tard que c’était la couleur la plus aimée au monde. Les saphirs de ma bague de fiançailles m’ont convaincue de la garder.

Un rêve

Aller le plus loin possible, le mieux possible avec le plus de gens possible.