Ecole normale supérieure de Lyon
école normale Supérieure

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Who we are

The École Normale Supérieure de Lyon is an elite French public institution that trains professors, researchers, senior civil servants as well as business and political leaders. Students choose their courses and split their time between training and research in sciences and humanities. Built on the tradition of the ENS de Fontenay-Saint-Cloud, founded in 1880, the ENS de Lyon also focuses on educational research. It is a symbol of French Republican meritocracy and it remains committed today to disseminating knowledge to the widest audience and to promoting equal opportunity.

The ENS de Lyon is part of the Université de Lyon and supports quality research that has earned it a Fields medal (Cedric Villani, 2010) and many CNRS medals. It encourages interdisciplinary studies to foster a better understanding of complex contemporary issues.

Our missions

Dissemination of knowledge

More information on our public engagement, our cultural events and our library

Our history

The École Normale Supérieure (ENS) was founded in post-revolutionary France to train teachers for secondary schools and ensure a consistent, critical and secular education for all pupils across the country.

Soon the ENS became home to the nation's leading research and intellectual life: famous alumni of France's oldest ENS, the ENS Ulm in Paris, include Louis Pasteur, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone Weil.

Building on this first success, other ENS were created in the late 19th century with the mission to train the future teachers of France's primary and secondary education system: in Fontenay-aux-Roses for young women and in Saint-Cloud for young men.

After World War II, these two schools focused on preparing teachers for the higher education system through a training-by-research model that remains today the hallmark of the ENS. From the 1980's onwards, the schools gradually moved to Lyon, where the ENS de Lyon was officially founded in 2010.

What is an ENS?

An ENS is at the same time a grande école - an elite French institution with a highly selective recruitment process and human scale - and a research university.

Jules Ferry's portrait

Jules FerryJules Ferry (1832-1893) was a French statesman and republican. One of his important works is the non-clerical organization of public education.

Following the republican programme he proposed to destroy the influence of the clergy in the university and found his own system of republican schooling. He reorganized the committee of public education (law of 27 February 1880), and proposed a regulation for the conferring of university degrees, which, though rejected, aroused violent polemics because the 7th article took away from the unauthorized religious orders the right to teach.

He finally succeeded in passing his eponymous laws of 16 June 1881 and 28 March 1882, which made primary education in France free, non-clerical and mandatory. In higher education, the number of professors, called the "Republic's black hussars" because of their Republican support, doubled under his ministry.
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ENS de Lyon
15 parvis René Descartes - BP 7000
69342 Lyon Cedex 07 - FRANCE
Descartes Campus : +33 (0) 4 37 37 60 00
Monod Campus : +33 (0) 4 72 72 80 00

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