02 Feb 2011   |   News

Social sciences take steps towards joint programming and the European Research Area

A total of 15 collaborative social sciences research projects will receive funding through the Open Research Area Scheme

The largest joint initiative between European funding agencies in social sciences has announced its first grants.

The Open Research Area Scheme (ORA) is a new joint funding mechanism backed by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), France’s Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), Germany’s Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). In total 15 collaborative projects are getting funded, which it is considered will deliver benefits for the countries involved, the rest of the EU and beyond.

Research topics include public attitudes to climate change, children’s welfare and the uncertainty of economic markets.

In the climate change project researchers from the UK and the Netherlands will address questions on public attitudes to climate change. Public debates about climate change have been marked by slow periods of agreement and concern but also by sudden peaks in attention and disputes, and the researchers will study patterns of interest and engagement, doubt and denial, as well as the players involved, and understanding of the role of language in this process.

In another project, academics from France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK will critically review children and their welfare as a major priority in government policy. A number of child-centred and parenting programmes in each country will be reviewed and studied to find out how these programmes work and why there is a move to more child-centred approaches within these countries.

Researchers from France and the UK will study why markets are constantly in a state of uncertainty and flux, to develop new methods of forecasting where extreme scenarios are not treated as glitches, but as essential functions of economic processes.

Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of the ESRC, said the ORA scheme is a testament to the close working relationships which have developed in recent years between social sciences research funding agencies in Europe. “Together we have demonstrated that national research funding agencies working in partnership can make significant strides towards the establishment of bureaucracy free methods of undertaking international research, without the need for excessive restrictions.”

The agencies are currently working together to further simplify and streamline the submission and review process. Following this, details of the next round of the ORA scheme will be announced in late spring or early summer 2011.

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