European Consortium for Humanities Institutes and Centres

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SSH in Horizon 2020

European Commission’s first report on the integration of Social Sciences and Humanities in Horizon 2020 and EASSH’s response to the report

European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation presented the first report on the integration of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in Horizon 2020. This monitoring and evaluation report assesses how the different SSH disciplines have been integrated into the projects funded in 2014 under the Societal Challenges and the Industrial Leadership priorities. The report is now available online.

European Alliance for Social Sciences and Humanities (EASSH) in response published a position on the report, in which they welcome the publication of it and point to the issues that call for urgent attention.

The Commission flagged around 37% of the topics under the 2014 calls as likely to invite SSH contributions. Based on the consolidated results, the Commission reports itself that only a quarter of consortia partners in projects funded under topics flagged for SSH have SSH expertise and will contribute it to their projects. When excluding Societal Challenge 6, the share of SSH partners amounts to less than a fifth. Even more worrying is the fact that 28% of funded projects under the SSH-flagged topics in 2014 do not include any SSH research dimension to address the issues at stake and do not include any SSH partner.

Around 16% of the funding in those projects will be allocated to SSH research. Across the 2014 calls addressing Europe’s major societal challenges as few as 7% of projects will benefit from insights from social and humanities scholars. In total, the share of budget going to SSH partners out of the total call budget will stand only at 6%.

European Alliance for Social Sciences and Humanities (EASSH) therefore highlighted the issues that need to be addressed urgently:

  1. Improve the data collection systems which can improve both the accuracy in tracing SSH participation and improve transparency around the data collection
  2. Work with the SSH community to develop a more robust methodology for analysing the integration of SSH research in projects.  Measuring the number of so called “SSH Partners” is not a robust indicator of the depth of integration in the fundamental research of any project
  3. Review the membership of the European Advisory Groups and Evaluation panels where the current minimal levels of SSH representation need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Little input to the design of work programmes and framing of topics, along with lack of SSH experience has contributed to the low integration of SSH in projects.

Full text of the EASSH response is available here

Joint letter from SSH scientific community to the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science

Brussels, March, 7th

Dear Commissioner,

The European Association of Sociology (EAS), the European Confederation of Political Science Associations (ECPSA), the European Educational Research Association (EERA), the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) and the European Consortium for Humanities Institutes and Centres (ECHIC) have welcomed your  intention to improve the position of the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH), as you have stated on several occasions since the British Academy meeting in November 2011.

Considering your clearly expressed political intent to support SSH, in line with the European Parliament and the Member States, we wish to express our strong concern about the implementation of H2020:

- The first available 2014-2015 work programs indicate that the share of SSH research in SC6 has diminished dramatically. Extrapolated to the whole Horizon 2020 period, the core SSH program in SC6 will be funded up to the amount of 300 Million Euros. This is less than half of the FP7 budget for SSH (625 Million Euros) and far removed from what has been claimed on many occasions prior to this. It is now also evident that the main share of the SSH Challenge has been allocated to other priorities: a third of the budget of SC6 has been given to DG CNECT, which already gets more than 7 billion Euros under Priority 2 and from other budgets elsewhere in various Societal Challenges, and a further third of the budget is allocated to “innovation research”. Such budgetary decisions are in complete contradiction to the proposals for the Specific Programme of H2020, which allows for large research activity for SSH in SC6 in support of several key policy areas developed in particular by DG EMPL, EAC, ECFIN, HOME, JUST, DEVCO, BEPA, ENV and EEAS.

- According to the call for proposals, the « mainstreaming policy » of SSH in other challenges, which was presented as an important complement to the specific challenge, rarely pertains directly to research in SSH. Instead the calls have a narrow utilitarian approach to SSH and fail to mobilise the breadth of relevant SSH research for societal challenges. The selection of experts similarly fails to draw the breath of relevant SSH expertise.

We hope that we are mistaken. We therefore ask for a meeting with you urgently in order to get some clarification from you regarding the situation detailed above and so that SSH core research in SC6 can be granted the key position that was agreed upon by the European Parliament and the Council.

Yours sincerely,

Carmen Leccardi, President of ESA

Pablo Oñate, President of ECPSA

Lejf Moos, President of EERA

Noel B. Salazar, President of EASA

Poul Holm, President of ECHIC


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This letter was Cc’ed to:

- Members of Parliament

- Members of the Programme Committee for Challenge 6 (H2020)

- Media in member states: La Repubblica, El Pais, Libération, Der Spiegel, The Times

SSH in Horizon 2020: letter to the EU Commissioner by EASSH

“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)