Monday, 11 November 2013

Full text of letter sent to the EU Commissioner for Research and Innovation

 6 November 2013 
“Towards Europe 2020: integrating the Social Sciences and Humanities” 
Letter from the 
European Alliance for the Social Sciences and Humanities 
Dear Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, 
We were delighted to participate in the recent EU Presidency conference «Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities» in Vilnius and we enthusiastically support the Vilnius Declaration. We were much encouraged by your strong words of support for mainstreaming Social Science and Humanities (SSH) research in Horizon 2020, and we took note of your pledge to see words turned into action. 
We understand that things will take time and we want to offer our co-operation in mobilizing the interest and commitment of SSH researchers for the research agenda of Horizon 2020. 
We are, however, deeply concerned by the low profile given to the SSH in the first draft of the work programme for the first 25% of H2020 (2014-2015). We urge the European Commission not to gamble away the willingness of the SSH community to contribute to research into all Societal Challenges. 
So far, we see that the Calls for research enssaged under the Social Challenge approach will have, despite all good intentions, an overriding focus on technology-based solutions, based on outdated linear innovation models and implemented in the traditional silo-like approach. 
In order to overcome this deplorable impasse, and building on recommendations made by delegates to the Vilnius conference, we submit the following suggestion: 
The Commission should consider support for synthesis centres, that will allow stakeholders and researchers from across all relevant areas to reflect on how Societal Challenge research can best integrate all necessary and innovative approaches, including a broader inclusion of SSH insights into the European agenda. 
We propose the environmental and educational fields as early candidate areas. 
As you know, European Social Science and Humanities research is very competitive in the global market place of knowledge and ideas. Europe as a whole would benefit from tapping more decisively into these rich resources. Conversely, if Horizon 2020 should fail to properly integrate the broad areas of competence of SSH research, substantial opportunity costs for the European Union are likely to occur.
We are particularly concerned that Social Challenge 6 (SC6), which is intended to have a particular focus on generating new insights and evidence through SSH research, risks being skewed heavily towards ICT-related applications research and on structural investments unrelated to any specific resaerch needs. 
It is important that future SC6 Calls are formulated in such a way that projects can draw on the best of relevant SSH research. This means being explicit about the allocation of funds for research, as opposed to funding currently foreseen for other activities. 
In this context, it would be beneficial if approvals of the Work Programmes were limited to just 1-year-periods each : the Commission and the communities can then monitor the implementation of the programme and the successful embedding of SSH. 
By the same token, we feel we need to reiterate the importance and urgent need for Advisory Groups to be appointed in an inclusive and transparent manner. 
The undersigned members of the EASSH Core Group, leaders from some of the premier research institutes in the fields of SSH, are looking forward to exchanges aimed at making Horizon 2020 a success. 
Best Regards, 
EASSH Core Group members and representatives 
Ms Angela Schindler-Daniels, Programme Coordinator NET4SOCIETY, Project Management Agency, German Aerospace Center, Bonn 
Lejf Moos, Professor at Aarhus University, Denmark, and President, European Educational Research Association 
Milena Zic-Fuchs, Professor at University of Zagreb, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and Chair of the Science Review Group for the Humanities (ESF), ALLEA Working Group Social Sciences and Humanities 
Poul Holm, Professor at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and Chair “European Consortium for Humanities Institutes and Centres” (ECHIC) 
Sean Ryder, Professor at NUI Galway, Ireland, and Chair, HERA Network Board (Humanities in the European Research Area) 
Thomas Risse, Professor of International Relations, Free University Berlin, and Chair Scientific Committee for the Social Sciences, Science Europe 
Wolfgang Mackiewicz, President, Conseil européen pour les langues / European Language Council (CEL/ELC) 
Dr Rüdiger Klein, Founding Chair, European Alliance for the Social Sciences & Humanities (EASSH), 

Saturday, 28 September 2013

After Vilnius - Humanities in Horizon 2020

It's a long way yet for the humanities in the EU Horizon 2020 programme.  After the Lithuanian Presidency conference in September 2013 I was interviewed by Research Europe. The interview is here.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

ECHIC and HUMED on Horizon 2020

European Consortium of Humanities Institutes and Centres (ECHIC)
Mediterranean Consortium of Humanities Institutes and Centres (HUMED)

Joint response to
Consultation on the state of the Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in Europe

Humanities institutes and centres play an important role as focus points and facilitators of research and innovative teaching, in particular with regard to emerging interdisciplinary fields. Numbers have grown rapidly in recent years, and ECHIC and HUMED were both founded in 2011. ECHIC has  40 members and 11 affiliate members in 20 countries. HUMED counts ten member institutions in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Together, we command an extensive global network of connections with centres across Asia and the Pacific region as well as in North and South America. 
We offer the following short joint response to the Consultation, noting that the consultation seems to be primarily directed at the individual level. We believe that research institutes and centres and indeed their associations are likely to play an increasing role in the European Research Area in the future and we look forward to future engagement.

European humanities is undergoing a radical transformation which provides huge potential benefits to society. The transformation is evident in methodologies (digital humanities) , resurgence of multi- and interdisciplinary approaches in environmental, medical, health, cognition and many other fields, application (use of historical data for public planning, narrative models for business, arts technology for media, bioethics, etc.). In addition, classical fields of humanities are ever more important as interpretative frameworks for cross-cultural understanding in a globalizing world. These changes affect the teaching curricula and the teaching methodologies in and beyond the humanities. The impact of this transformation is sub-optimal because supporting structures and scaling are problems: there is a lack of translational infrastructure (as we know it in translational medicine), and lack of appropriate incentives at the individual and collaborative levels.

European humanities commands global respect and attracts tens of thousands of overseas students and scholars to Europe. They return to their home countries trained in European thought and knowledgeable of European values, which include the practice of democratic criticism and free public debate. This soft power is of immense value to the European Union and to the practice of European citizenship and it must be cherished, researched and taught to our own best standards. It is particularly important to overcome methodological nationalism and increase understanding and bridging of regional cultural divides both within Europe and with neighbouring regions. In particular, humanities institutes and centres play a crucial role in reducing the divides between North and South, East and West, by bringing together scholars in dialogue and collaboration. Given the critical state of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, HUMED is offering a unique network for reflections on diversity and coherence of cultural, intellectual and social traditions and perspectives in the region.

Despite notable progress, it must be recognized that large and important numbers of humanities researchers have not called on by FP7 work programmes. The failure to include humanities research incurs huge opportunity costs for the European Union.  The overarching challenge to Grand Challenge research is to build radically inter- and transdisciplinary research environments to deal with the complexity   of contemporary problems. It is urgent therefore to  mobilize all relevant knowledge bases, as knowledge growth is  much larger by adding another discipline than by adding more resources to a discipline which is already engaged. It is therefore of the utmost importance to call on the huge knowledge base of the humanities and to offer dynamic research perspectives to this community of scholars.

In order to make up for these lost opportunities, we recommend
·      A substantial increase of entry points for Humanities scholarship - in terms of funding, work programme design and language - under the Horizon 2020 6th challenge "Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies"
·      That the humanities as well as and in equal measure to the social sciences be mainstreamed across all research challenges 
·      That active humanities researchers be members of all panels that provide scientific advice on the design of work programmes
·      That work programmes for all grand challenges encourage the inclusion of humanistic research wherever relevant
·      That a criterion of funding be that proposals, when relevant, include an adequate and realistic budget for humanistic research
·      That review panels include active humanistic researchers
·      That a conference to review Horizon 2020 progress on SSH perspectives on the grand challenges be called every second year
·      That a specific call be made for infrastructural support of humanities consortia to overcome national and disciplinary fragmentation and to improve the translation of humanities research into education and policy.

Prof. Poul Holm, Trinity College Dublin (ECHIC)
Prof. Rosi Braidotti, Utrecht University (ECHIC)

Prof. Javier Moscoso, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales (HUMED)

Prof. Eduardo Manzano Moreno,  Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales (HUMED)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Slave's Tale

Watch video
PDF of slides available here

What happened to the men and women who were sold on the Dublin slave market in the early middle ages? Some were taken off to places as far away as Iceland, Scandinavia, Normandy and the Spanish Caliphate. A few of their voices have survived to be told.
Speaker: Poul Holm
Date: Tuesday, August 21st as part of a series of monthly lunchtime lectures during 2012 at the Wood Quay Venue by the Friends of Medieval Dublin and Dublin City Council.