Eleven universities, including Ghent University, La Sapienza in Rome and the Freie Universität Berlin, are urging the European Commission to set a target under its next research framework programme of spending at least 10 per cent of the budget on social sciences and humanities.
The statement argues that the social sciences and humanities comprise about a third of Europe’s academic world and knowledge – and can make a vital contribution to Europe’s progress. Yet, the group notes, under the current programme SSH researchers have very low grant-success rates and have difficulty in connecting with physical-science researchers and engineers.
Among the actions the universities recommend for Framework Programme 9, the next research initiative to start in 2021, is creation of a separate platform for the social sciences and humanities, similar to the European Technology Platforms (ETPs) under Horizon 2020. This platform would help consolidate collaborations with STEM disciplines and structure the way social sciences and humanities provide input to scoping papers, work programmes, societal challenges and missions.
Also, FP9 should have an increased budget for multidisciplinary collaborations, which would encourage researchers to think about how to generate academic and societal impact when drafting proposals The 10 per cent target “will help in better facilitating the highest-quality SSH activities and consequently activating its full potential to academic and societal impact for the future of Europe.”
According to the paper, the Commisison should also recognise that all disciplines crucially contribute to the goal of an inclusive and prosperous Europe and invest more in high-quality SSH research and innovation opportunities.