Taking lessons from the practices of interdisciplinarity in Europe
“Social sciences and humanities research will be fully integrated into each of the priorities of Horizon 2020 and each of the specific objectives and will contribute to the evidence base for policy making at international, Union, national, regional and local level. In relation to societal challenges, social sciences and humanities (SSH) will be mainstreamed as an essential element of the activities needed to tackle each of the societal challenges to enhance their impact”.
This statement in the Horizon 2020 regulation opens the way to an ambitious policy of SSH integration and its measurement and impact. Beyond the actual practices of “SSH integration” within Horizon 2020 already monitored by the European Commission this Coordination and Support Action should look at integration/interdisciplinarity practices within and outside of Horizon 2020 both between SSH and other sciences as well as between the diverse disciplines within the social sciences and humanities, in Europe and, where relevant at national or local level. The challenge is to learn and further build on these practices.
Interdisciplinarity for this topic means interdisciplinarity between SSH and other sciences as well as interdisciplinarity between the diverse disciplines within the social sciences, humanities and the arts. Furthermore, the European Commission supports a genuine integration of SSH, meaning that the SSH are not an “add-on” to other sciences but are fully mobilised, like other sciences, in building collectively the relevant scientific interdisciplinary questions for answering Europe’s societal challenges. Finally, the Commission recognises that interdisciplinarity between SSH and other sciences is only one among several scientific approaches (i.e. mono-disciplinarity and other kinds of interdisciplinarity) and therefore that the policy to support “SSH integration” needs to be justified and selective.
The scope of this topic is thus neither concentrated on the epistemology of interdisciplinarity, nor on the ad hoc contribution of SSH to other sciences, but is rather meant for SSH experts, in close cooperation with experts from other sciences, to take a leading role in analysing the actual practices and potential of interdisciplinarity in Europe, inside and outside Horizon 2020, as well as their outputs and impacts.
Proposals should be able to scan a wide array of practices and indicators of interdisciplinarity between SSH and non-SSH sciences in Europe, whether at national level or at bilateral or multilateral level, including third countries where relevant. They should analyse best practices but also instances of failed attempts at such interdisciplinarity. On this basis, they should try to give better socio-institutional accounts of various types of interdisciplinarity and their outputs and impacts. They should analyse the conditions for supporting meaningful interdisciplinarity between SSH and other sciences, including through evaluations of programmes and projects and researchers’ career development, and suggest whether new kinds of tools or institutional solutions could become, in a feedback loop, relevant within the Framework Programme or outside it. Based on empirical evidence of existing or nascent interdisciplinary cooperation between SSH and other sciences, proposals should also assess the potential for interdisciplinarity for responding to the different societal challenges that Europe needs to tackle, in areas like health, food and agriculture, energy and climate change, technological innovation, security or any other relevant emerging area. They should thus point to established, nascent or potential areas where interdisciplinarity between SSH and other sciences could be more adequately supported.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 1.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
The action will contribute to developing a policy for integration/interdisciplinarity between SSH and other sciences at European level based on empirical experiences of this kind of interdisciplinarity. It will also allow the identification of areas or issues which show potential for genuine interdisciplinary cooperation between SSH and other sciences, which would deserve to be supported in the future in order to meet Europe’s societal challenges.
Delegation Exception Footnote
This activity directly aimed at supporting the development and implementation of evidence base for R&I policies and supporting various groups of stakeholders is excluded from the delegation to the Research Executive Agency and will be implemented by the Commission services.
- Socio-economic science and humanities