In 2000, founder and former Chairman & CEO of AXA Claude Bébéar had a clear vision for an organization that would devote itself fully to serving democracy and the public interest. Institut Montaigne gathered the best French expertise to carry out thorough analysis and to put together concrete policy recommendations. It set out to cover the main challenges facing France: diversity, education, the welfare state, energy and many more.
Education was among the first subjects to be part of its work program. In 2001, Institut Montaigne advocated for genuine autonomy for universities, and in 2010, it created Agir pour l'école, a spin-off whose ambition is to find solutions to the dysfunctions and inequalities within the French education system.
The issue of diversity also quickly became a priority for Institut Montaigne. The Diversity Charter was thus created in 2004, becoming the first document of its kind in Europe calling for signatory enterprises to proactively ensure diversity and equality of opportunity. With the same mission in mind, an unprecedented survey on religious discrimination in hiring and the workplace was carried out in 2015. This was followed by an extensive report on Islam in France in 2016.
Since then, Institut Montaigne has grown to extend its expertise far beyond France, through numerous partnerships with international think tanks, and an extensive network of experts from all over the world. Over the past 20 years, Institut Montaigne has gathered around it an impressive array of individuals from the private sector, civil society and academia, and developed expertise in the digital and health sectors, economy and finance, the US and Asia, religion, society, employment and much more. In 2020, during the lockdown in France, Institut Montaigne launched a free online course on the fundamentals of artificial intelligence, designed in collaboration with OpenClassrooms and Fondation Abeona. The course is meant to provide a basic level of AI literacy to anyone.
The challenge is far from over, and we are committed to spreading our ethos of fostering continuous dialogue for a healthy society.