Death of Pierre Rabardel

With deep sadness, we share the sudden passing of our colleague, supervisor, and friend, Pierre Rabardel, on September 29, 2021.

Pierre Rabardel, professor at Paris 8 University, between 1995-2010, was the director of the master’s degree in Ergonomics and Head of the research team C3U – Design, Creation and Usages at the Paragraph Lab for 15 years. He led the development of Ergonomics within the Department of psychology at Université Paris 8 that brought about a unique training offer in France, including a complete cursus in Ergonomics from the first year of the license until the Ph.D. degree through the master’s education. In 2005, Pierre Rabardel contributed to the dynamic creation of the College of Teacher-Researchers in Ergonomics (CE2).

A luminous researcher and educator who creates thought, Pierre Rabardel has left a deep mark on those who have worked and learned alongside him. He bequeaths a solid conceptual framework imbued with humanist values, making it possible to think about the development of the individual, the collectives, and the socio-technical devices in a sustainable manner. Anchored in psychological and ergonomic theoretical frameworks, Pierre Rabardel’s instrumental approach is thought in the making. The conception of the human that he retains is that of « capable subjects, » engaged in worlds, who appropriate what is given, available, or planned to build and shape resources at the crossroads of their productive and living environments.

Tailor of concepts Pierre Rabardel was also a sculptor of matter. He cuts stone and wood, and for several years he has been making images.

His sudden departure comes to interrupt his artistic life and his creative work. Still, from November 24 to 26, 2021, he gives us the next appointment at the conference, « Expansion and Future of the Instrumental Approach, » so, together, we will continue to carve and build this conceptual framework borrowing from the humanist values ​​which were his values.

Pierre Rabardel leaves an unfinished oeuvre, and theoretical tools remobilized and reshaped by many authors from various disciplines like ergonomics, education, mathematics didactics, professional didactics, design, art.

The conference will take place at Université Paris 8 ( It will be the opportunity to bring together all these authors to share current and emerging conceptual projects concerning contemporary issues in society, training, and the world of work.

Anne Bationo-Tillon, Gaëtan Bourmaud, Françoise Decortis & Viviane Folcher*

* We are signing this tribute in alphabetical order, but beyond this tribute, it will be for each of us to continue to teach and to lead research projects while keeping Pierre Rabardel’s thinking alive within the diversity of our academic institutions, namely the Université Paris 8, AgroSup Dijon and La Haute École Pédagogique Vaud in Lausanne.