Open Letter on Socio-economic sciences and the humanities

NET4SOCIETY and other organizations have drafted an Open Letter on the Socio-economic sciences and the humanities. The letter to the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation calls for inclusion of the social sciences and humanities in large-scale research programmes (which is presumably not the case now.) They argue,

While for many questions, natural, human and social sciences need to join forces, there are also important societal and economic transformations, which can be described as Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH)-centered challenges: they regard areas as diverse as education, gender, identity, intercultural dialogue, media, security, social innovation, to name but a few.

The letter makes specific recommendations and is part of a dialogue between SSH organizations and the European Commission.

This letter, signed by members of the SSH research community from across the EU and beyond is a follow-up to the exchanges with the European Commission on the future of the Social Sciences and Humanities by the Inter-agency Task Group on SSH (ITG), composed of ALLEA, ECHIC, ESF (SCH/SCSS), Net4Society and SSH ERA-Nets.

They have gathered some 18,457 signatures since I last checked, though many are not made public.

The argument seems similar those made by Chad Gaffield, the President of SSHRC in Canada. The Social Sciences and the Humanities are crucial for understanding a large class of the grand challenges of this 21st century. Science, technology, medicine and engineering do not study human societies, histories, politics and communication in ways that will help us with the difficult problems ahead around innovation, participation, poverty, war, and diplomacy. As the home page of this site puts it:

A sustained and substantial European investment in cutting-edge Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities (SSH) can unlock new knowledge and insights that are necessary for Europe

  • to overcome inequality, exclusion and poverty and to adapt to demographic change (migration, ageing, gender relations etc.);
  • to develop resilient institutions that can strengthen sustainable growth, innovation processes, and social and political participation;
  • to exploit cultural diversity as a source for creativity, adaptive capabilities and social innovation;
  • to advance our understanding of cognitive processes and create educational opportunities in inclusive and democratic societies;
  • to understand the complexity of value systems, worldviews and behavioural patterns, and address issues of openness or resistance to change and
  • to move towards successful intercultural dialogue and global diplomacy.

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