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)