ELSE Workshop - European Leadership for Safety Education Workshop (C. Thomas)

ELSE Workshop - European Leadership for Safety Education Workshop (C. Thomas)

A new research-based approach to safety leadership education in nuclear and other high-risk sectors.

Academy 3 highlight

By training professionals and students in safety leadership, the ELSE project will contribute to the development of resilience strategies at both individual and collective levels. ELSE is complementary to other projects studying risk perception and risk management in the nuclear sector.

The project

Major accidents in the last few decades have questioned the reliability and performance of industrial safety, and evidenced the foremost role played by human and organizational issues. In that context, the concept of “safety leadership” has emerged. It describes how leaders influence the way individuals and groups understand and adhere to organizational safety goals and the means to achieve them, through the interactions those leaders establish with their socio-technical environment. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its member states have since recognized the importance of safety leadership and included it in their fundamental safety principles. In 2016, the IAEA General Conference adopted a resolution calling for the development of specific training on safety leadership. The European Union is committed in this call, especially through its Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation (INSC).

The ELSE project fits into this context and aims to develop a new research-based approach for education in the domain of safety leadership. ELSE has two objectives: 1) to develop a certified university diploma in the field of safety leadership aimed at professionals in the nuclear sector; 2) to develop a specific training module at Master level and make it accessible to all university students through a network of “implementing European Universities”. No such diploma and module currently exist in Europe or elsewhere. The ELSE project will thus create innovative training at UCA on safety leadership. To reach this objective, ELSE brings together management schools and technical universities specialized in education for the nuclear industry and other high-risk sectors.

ELSE also intends to develop innovative research on organizational safety leadership. This research includes a variety of themes such as safety culture, organizational resilience, high reliability organizations, and organizational mindfulness, and is thus interdisciplinary. It targets new critical questions, such as: How can values related to safety culture be transformed into operational behaviors? How to manage tensions between “regulated” (i.e., based on predefined rules) and “managed” (i.e., based on proactive human behavior) safety? To address these questions, we propose in ELSE to gather the national and international community working on these topics. This community includes both researchers and industry experts. We thus plan to organize during the first year of ELSE an international workshop gathering about 25 confirmed experts. Beyond fostering research collaborations among experts from different disciplines (psychology, sociology, management and civil engineering) and between scientists and nuclear industry operators, the workshop will allow discussing and building the pedagogical approaches best suited to the training objectives of ELSE.

The +

ELSE proposes an innovative training program on safety leadership that is unique on the national and international scenes. It will also foster innovative, interdisciplinary research involving both international researchers and industry experts.

What’s next?

Over the duration of the ELSE project, the international network of researchers and experts initially built at the workshop will be strengthened and will include a growing number of UCA researchers from different disciplines (risk perception and management, resilience, safety leadership in the nuclear sector and other high-risk environments). These interactions should initiate new, interdisciplinary research projects in UCA and abroad.

Project information

Scientific domain

Management, Psychology, Sociology and Civil Engineering

Safety Leadership
Managed Safety
Safety Culture
PI laboratory

Groupe de Recherche en Droit Economie et Gestion (GREDEG, UMR 7321)

Total budget
The ELSE project is funded by the European Community for an amount of 800 000 € and a duration of three years.
In ELSE, total Budget for the workshop: 33 000 €
Academy 3 contribution: 7 000 €
European Community contribution: 26 000 €
Partner laboratories
Groupe de Recherche en Droit Economie et Gestion (GREDEG, UMR 7321)
European Nuclear Safety Training and Tutoring Institute (ENSTTI)
Project members
THOMAS Catherine
Students inolved


Catherine Thomas