Danish Business Academy’s Report on the Social Sciences and the Humanities

In September of this year, the Danish Business Academy (DEA) wrote a position paper on improving the integration of the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in the European Commission’s future framework for research and innovation (Horizon 2020). This framework emphasizes the Grand Societal Challenges – which include global warming, energy, an aging population, and public health – as important areas of future research, and the DEA’s report advocates for the importance of using SSH research to address these issues and for the necessity of including SSH research in the Innovation Union. The report, entitled “The Social Sciences and the Humanities – use it don’t lose it,” outlines three key proposals for the integration of SSH research:

  • We strongly recommend that a distinct programme for SSH research to address the societal challenges that Europe and the world are facing will be set up and allocated increased funding compared to Framework Programme 7 (FP7)1. We propose that the funding to the budget of a distinct SSH programme is increased significantly, so that the success rate in the area of SSH, which is around 9 percent as a minimum will be able to approach 22 percent that is the average success rate in FP7 in general.
  • We support the idea that a future framework programme should be structured around the Grand Societal Challenges. We recommend a full integration of SSH research in the Grand Societal Challenges, meaning that SSH researchers will take part in the whole process, from problem formulation to project evaluation and project implementation.
  • There is a large potential for the SSH to contribute to the realisation of the Innovation Union. We recommend establishing a focus shift in relation to the use of SSH research and knowledge in the European Research Area (ERA) from policy developer to innovation driver, stressing the importance of business and innovation oriented SSH research. This does not mean that the SSH should no longer be used in policy development, but the SSH should also be used as innovation driver. The design of a new framework programme, in future research programmes and calls should make room for this role for SSH.

Importantly, the report argues “that research in SSH is important for the EC in order to fully develop the Innovation Union” and positions the social sciences and humanities as an innovation driver and not just as a policy developer. Research in SSH is needed in a “knowledge society,” the report argues, and it points to a study in which company managers for 100 companies were asked to define their future research needs. All of the areas they defined – including quality and innovation, the internet, the aging society, cultural and business understanding, and risk and uncertainty – address SSH research areas:

There is a need for new understandings of how companies relate to the world, user- and employee driven innovation, human resource management, better cultural understandings in a globalised world, just to mention a few examples. Whether we call this knowledge society, information society, experience economy or globalisation does not really matter. What matters is that there seems to be an increasing significance to the understanding of human and organisational behaviour, management, networking, flexibility, and human cooperation.

The report also includes in its appendix examples of how SSH research can be applied to each of the Grand Societal Challenges, emphasizing research themes such as the ethical and philosophical studies of resource allocation, new modes of sociality offered by globalization, security, and urban design and planning.

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