Editorial Note This edition of Net4Society’s e-magazine “ISSUES – The voice of SSH in Europe” focuses on the high-level conference “Trust: European Research Co-creating Resilient Societies” held in October 2015: the key speakers, and their personal definition of trust and their attitudes on how co-creation in research can build resilient societies. Furthermore, these high-level international speakers shed some light on the question of what the element of trust means in the context of future research policies.
ISSUES also takes a close look at the World Climate Conference (COP 21) held in late 2015 in Paris, focusing on the need for integrating social sciences and humanities in the upcoming climate protection measures.
Finally, ISSUES highlights some of the recently published policy briefs that communicate project research results of Social Sciences and Humanities programmes to policy-makers.
The high-level conference “Trust – European research co-creating resilient societies” took place in Brussels on 29-30 October 2015. It was this year’s key event on SC 6 “Europe in a Changing World – Inclusive, Innovative and Reflective Societies” and was jointly hosted by Net4Society and the European Commission (DG RTD) with support from HERA and Science Europe. The purpose of the first day of the conference was to explore how the existence or absence of trust might facilitate or hinder the achievement of the goals that the EU and its member states have set for themselves and in particular: the Social Challenges addressed by Horizon 2020. The first session “Europe in a changing world – Perspectives on 2050” examined what is meant by the apparently simple notion of trust and it surveyed the ambitions of Europe, the changing world in which those ambitions are to be achieved, the possible threats to the achievement of those ambitions and how our willingness or capacity to trust can affect the probability of success. The second section ”Research matching Society – From visions to actions” examined how research can improve policies and practice in the political, economic and social arenas whilst also contributing to the essential resilience of society needed to cope with the inevitable crises that will intervene between the formulation of strategy and its accomplishment. The second day of the conference was dedicated to the presentation of the Work Programme for 2016 pertaining to the Societal Challenge 6 of Horizon 2020 by Commission officials, followed by a NCP Info Day.
Throughout the conference, the key speakers of the conference were interviewed on the following questions:
What is your definition of trust?
How can co-creation in research build resilient societies?
What does the element of trust mean in the context of future research policies?
Onora O’Neill, Baroness of the House of Lords and Professor at the University of Cambridge, provides a philosophical insight into the meaning of trust and trustworthiness. She says that the aim should be to rebuild intelligent trust in trustworthy people and institutions:
“Trust is only well placed on people and organisations that are honest, competent and reliable”.
In my opinion, a great deal of writing on trust is very thin, just a lot of generic attitudes. But trust is rather a judgement. To gain it, we try to work out if a person is honest, reliable and competent. So, rather than giving a definition of trust, these are the things which you have to judge if you want to place trust on someone or something.
I am not keen on using the word co-creation, as it is an invented word with an unclear meaning. But on the whole, collaboration and communication are very helpful in enabling people to work out whom they can trust. It is a question of judgement. I suppose it is a fancy word for doing something with someone else. The point is that trust is difficult to build as we can only be trustworthy, and give the evidence that we are trustworthy, but we cannot build trust or coerce people into trust, because you cannot extract trust from another person. You can only give people information and spend time with them that will enable them to make a judgement. So what is rather pompously being called co-creation might enable the other person to make that judgement. But in general, I am not very fond of the word “co-creation”.
Research policies are surrounded with complex forms of accountability and I think whether these forms of accountability undermine trust in research. We know that there is a lot of evidence for research fraud, and I am not saying that doing it in cooperation would do anything to decrease research fraud.
If I am involved in setting research policy, I must do it honestly, competently and reliably, in order for others to trust it. There are so many elements to think of when setting a trustworthy research policy.
Milena Žic Fuchs, former Minister of Science and Technology and member of the Croatian Academy of Science, said that there are multi-layered concepts of trust. When researchers start working together, they have to build up trust, especially when they come from different disciplines. We could call it “distrust” which very often stems from not knowing what other people do, as it often takes time to build up trust between people from different research backgrounds.
Trust is built, or rather co-created, by knowledge and wisdom; and
"co-creation in research is about results that have concrete effects, that have a real impact on people’s lives".
Multidisciplinary research is on the European Commission’s agenda. We need to keep in mind that a healthy balance between disciplinary and multidisciplinary research should be kept. You cannot get involved in multidisciplinary research until you are good at your discipline. That is the first step. There has to be a core discipline from where to start.
Milena Žic Fuchs also stressed that social sciences and humanities are too often considered to be the “icing on the cake” when it comes to setting the policy for multidisciplinary research, whereas they should be fully integrated from the earliest stages of research to create valuable knowledge. In her view, communication is an important factor to build trust in research, and dialogue is needed for building links between the multi-layered nature of research and the diversity of society in order to achieve trust.
Geoffrey Hosking, Professor at the University College London, emphasized that trust is a belief based on good, but incomplete evidence that a person or an institution, will act for my good. Nearly all decisions involve an element of trust, as we cannot possibly know all the facts.
In unknown situations, trust has to begin with a kind of advance, not knowing whether that step will be reciprocated. And this is where research comes in: you work with partners, not knowing initially whether the cooperation will be productive or fruitful, but you learn gradually through the steps that you take together. So it seems to me that
"in practice, trust is built in advance and it is reciprocated gradually when dealing with practical problems".
This is very important when you are creating trust where trust did not previously exist. The creation of hypotheses at the beginning of research, which are built on some evidence, but not very much, is really important, as it is what enables research funders to identify possible benefits which might come out of the research itself.
Axel Borsch Supran, Director of the Max-Plank Institute, agrees that the world is so super complex; we cannot understand everything, so we also have to trust. It is a shortcut to know how we should behave without knowing exactly how it works.
"Co-creation between policy and research: if you co-create, then policy actually uses the output of research",
and, when communicated, the research already has the politician in front of it and phrases the results in a way that is understandable. Co-creation definitely creates better evidence-based policy. We have a lot of evidence for that, although more so in the Anglo-Saxon countries than in the continental European countries. Research and policy are not adversaries, but they actually complement each other.
When it comes to research policy, there are two aspects. Obviously, the big sponsors, like the European Commission, have to put trust in the scientists that they will actually generate useful results. The grant systems that we have, like Horizon 2020, are based on trust that we will actually deliver. It also places responsibility on the researchers for that money. Also, interdisciplinary research really involves a lot of trust. You start with an almost alien culture of co-researchers and you have to trust that they use the right methodology and that their language makes sense, even though it is completely different. An example of that is cooperation between medical research and social sciences.
Dr. Saulo Barretto from the Research Institute for Technology and Innovation (IPTI) said that trust is crucial for a society that faces problems: understanding that you have knowledge and not the solution.
"It is important to start with a positive cooperation with local stakeholders, because they know how things really work outside the lab".
So trust is very important there to get the right answers and make a contribution. It is crucial to establish a relationship built on trust. In Brazil, we are working in an under-developed region. You have to remember that distrust is the reality there. So why should people in this situation trust research? Without the minimal establishment of trust, nothing is going to evolve in this situation. Close interaction with the community is important when finding and applying solutions to social problems.
It is also important to teach people to trust themselves, as they lack dreams and references to aspire for something more, to evolve and move forward.
When it comes to co-creation, sustainability is the answer. We cannot build effective and sustainable solutions without co-creation. Otherwise, it is simply intervention. There is a need to allow for failure and certain flexibility. For real co-creation processes, trust is crucial.
The time had come again: from 30th November until 12th December 2015, all of the eyes were turned once more towards the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). The annual spectacle had always attracted great media interest, but, it had a relatively low outreach concerning the achievement of a new, legally binding international agreement on emission reduction targets. Though this time, it seems to be different.
The participating parties were fiercely determined to reach the major target of adopting a succession agreement of the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16t February 2005. The detailed rules for the implementation of the Protocol were adopted at COP 7 in Marrakesh, Morocco, in 2001, and are referred to as the "Marrakesh Accords." Its first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012.
In 2015, amidst a global crisis and just days after the horrible terrorist attacks in Paris, the participating parties demonstrated at a perfect moment what they are able to achieve by following the principles of cooperation and transformation.
For the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, the goal of a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping the global warming below 2°C, was finally achieved!
Apart from several short-term goals concerning national climate targets, capacity building, reporting systems, etc., the signing parties agreed on three main long-term objectives:
1. Keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to make the effort to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
2. Strengthening the building of resilience to climate change impacts.
3. Redirection of all finance flows to make them compatible with the climate targets.
The European Commission has already embarked on this mission by introducing several new topics in the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2016 – 2017. Focusing on the topics published in Societal Challenge 6: “Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective societies”, this section of the Work Programme takes into account the huge impact of climate change on societies of today and the future. This is exemplified by the call “Engaging together globally”, in which the topic of climate change-induced migration can be identified as a key issue.
But regardless of this specific section of the Work Programme 2016 – 2017, the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) play a leading role in developing solutions to create a future society which is able to cope with the changes which are, despite the Paris Agreement, no longer avoidable.
Certainly, scientific analyses, like climate models, still have an essential role to play in raising awareness and determining potential impacts of climate change. But these models can only give ideas as to what we need to adapt to. They give no clues as to how to adapt!
To answer this question, the European Commission has to pioneer new, transdisciplinary approaches, bringing together geographers, physicists, engineers, biologists, etc. and researchers from the field of Social Sciences and Humanities. It is certain that “climate change science cannot do without SSH!”
Now that the delegates at the COP21 did their part of the job, the time has come for the policy makers to make their move.
These days, the negotiations for the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018 – 2020 have begun. The mission must be to create a programme which encourages the European research community to give a chance to interdisciplinary cooperation to develop solutions for the realization of the climate targets.
Only if this can be done successfully, there will be a realistic chance to make a useful contribution to the Paris Agreement, which many people have been working on for decades.
Representatives from the Net4Society project participated at Horizon 2020 panel session at the third World Social Sciences Forum in Durban under the theme “Transforming Global Relations for a Just World”.
The World Social Science Forum (WSSF) is a global event of the International Social Science Council (ISSC) that brings together international researchers to address current topical global issues and future priorities for international social science. The Forum promotes innovative and cross-disciplinary work, cross-science collaborations in the natural and human sciences, and engagement with donors and decision makers in the science community worldwide.
The International Social Science Council (ISSC) is a membership-based international scientific organisation. The ISSC represents the social, behavioural, and economic sciences at the global level, and aims to bring the best social science to bear on the biggest social challenges of our times. The ISSC’s mission is to strengthen global social science with a view to helping solve global priority problems, and to increase both the production and use of the social science knowledge in all parts of the world and for the well-being of societies everywhere. Through its members, the ISSC mobilises and supports the full diversity of perspectives and approaches required to generate knowledge that can effectively contribute to solving the many urgent challenges facing societies today.
The 2015 edition of the WSSF was hosted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), and co-organised with a large consortium of leading universities and research units, science academies, research councils, government departments and prominent non-governmental organisations.
The first WSSF took place in May 2009, in Bergen, Norway. The theme of this Forum was “One Planet – Worlds Apart?” The second WSSF was hosted by a Canadian consortium led by the Canadian secretariat of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) and took place in Montreal, Canada from 13 to 15 October 2013, with a thematic focus on “Social Transformation and the Digital Age”.
The first two fora highlighted, in their own way, power asymmetries, unequal access and regional divides. It, therefore, was more than appropriate that the issues of inequality and justice became the main focus of the third forum. Under the theme of “Transforming Global Relations for a Just World”, the WSSF 2015 looked into the issues of inequality and justice. It took place in Durban, South Africa, from 13 to 16 September 2015. The WSSF 2015 involved policymakers, decision makers, scientists, politicians, activists, civil society organisations, labour and business leaders. They all gathered to discuss real-life issues, focusing on inequality and injustice. The WSSF 2015 theme was informed by growing inequalities at the global, regional, national and local levels and the impact it has on the quality of life of different populations as well as on the sustainability of resources necessary to support the quality of life. The participants addressed trends in inequality and the measurement, nature, manifestations and drivers of this injustice.
A broad range of topics can be addressed under the theme "Transforming Global Relations for a Just World", many of which are open to interdisciplinary and comparative interrogation. These topics include, among others, global inequalities as it relates to governance, patterns of production and consumption, cultural exchanges, high-quality health and education, climate change and adaptation, and human rights and social justice. The action-oriented nature of the theme allowed the Forum to demonstrate the relevance of social science for public policies and social intervention.
Some of the sub-themes covered by the Forum included:
History, Trends and Patterns of Global Inequality;
Theorising and Measuring Inequality;
Drivers, Catalysts, and Determinants of Inequality in the Global system;
Nature, Dimensions, Types, and Sites of Inequality;
Inequality, Poverty and Citizenship;
Ethics, Social Policy and Inequality;
Policies, Experiences, and Experiments in Combating Inequality; and
Challenges and Opportunities for Overcoming Global Inequality.
The Forum also enjoyed the privilege of having several international personalities as benefactors, including Sir Michael Marmot, Director of the Institute of Health Equity; Professor Thandika Mkandawire, Chair of African Development at the London School of Economics; George Monbiot, environmental activist and award-winning writer and journalist; Navanethem Pillay, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Emeritus Professor Pierre Sané, founder and President of the Imagine Africa Institute.
As such, it was entirely appropriate for Net4Society to be represented at this Forum. Net4Society convened a panel session at the WSSF 2015 on 15 September. The purpose of the Horizon 2020 panel session was to: profile Net4Society, the international network of National Contact Points (NCPs) for SSH in Horizon 2020; provide an expert overview of Horizon 2020 for social scientists and humanists; discuss how SSH is embedded and integrated in the Horizon 2020 societal challenges; explore the prospects and challenges for SSH researchers to participate in Horizon 2020; highlight the opportunities for SSH researchers in Horizon 2020 calls; and illustrate a few high-impact SSH case studies of successful cross-border and cross-continental collaboration in Horizon 2020 research projects.
The theme of the WSSF 2015 allowed for rich and concentrated dialogues to take place among scholars coming from different disciplinary backgrounds, theoretical orientations, and geographical regions. It also facilitated an exchange between scholars and policy-makers, practitioners, and activists. The forum promises to provide Net4Society with a platform for exciting, informative and insightful discourse.
The future of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) research has been questioned in recent years. One of the challenges that we, SSH scientists, face is the ability to demonstrate the impact that SSH research has, particularly beyond the scientific and political impact, i.e. the ability to grasp and showcase the impact of our research in all of its aspects in order to make it public. In this context, IMPACT-EV has been funded, focusing intensively on supporting this endeavor. Based on the work that was already conducted within the project, i.e. the ex-post evaluation of SSH projects in FP6 (last call) and the FP7, we have been able to 1) identify European-funded SSH projects whose results have achieved significant social (as well as political, scientific and ERA) impact. These projects involved different countries and research areas, and they made a contribution towards different EU targets; 2) Through the very process of reflecting on this topic and the challenges it poses, the awareness has increased among the scientific community of the importance of pursuing social and political impact as well as of the ways of gathering evidence to this end; 3) Most importantly, after establishing contacts and conducting interviews, the main researchers have been considering and rethinking their own work from the social impact perspective, thus reflecting these new trends.
IMPACT-EV has already shed some light on the confusion concerning the social impact issues, such as the difference between research result transference and the social impact of research. Transference occurs when project outputs are implemented, for instance, through policies or social interventions. Going beyond this, the social impact of SSH research occurs when published and disseminated results, which have also generated transference, involve an improvement with respect to the objectives that the European society has set. In case of Horizon 2020, these refer to the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.
Some of the major challenges that we face concern identifying, sharing and demonstrating the social impact of SSH research. Many have emphasised the complexity of identifying and attributing social impact of research due to, for instance, the time needed for achieving actual effects on society (which is longer than for having tangible outcomes) as well as due to the problem of attribution. The debate has thus been especially relevant with respect to the question of how social impact information can be collected and assessed, which has been a hot topic in all of the international scientific arenas, being discussed within different models.
To address this pressing challenge, which has the potential of heightening the relevance of SSH, a new tool has been designed and launched in the framework of IMPACT-EV – SIOR. This tool is already being used to collect, demonstrate and publicize the information on the social impact of EU-funded research. SIOR (Social Impact Open Repository: http://www.ub.edu/sior/sior.php) is an open-access repository that was designed to display, share and store the social impact data for all sciences, in an evidence-based manner, promoting the use of scientific data collected in a single open-access source, the first open worldwide registry of information on the social impact of science. It has attracted the interest of some of the world’s major scientific journals, universities and research groups from different scientific areas, who have been also requesting participation. Through a public, scientific and social debate, SIOR has opened new avenues to better understanding, of not only SSH, but of science in general, its function and its social utility.
Transnational Migration in Transition: Transformative Characteristics of Temporary Mobility of People (EURA-NET)
EURA-NET project research insights are expected to contribute to migration governance and development at national, European and international levels. The objective is to understand the policy impacts of temporary transnational migration in the European-Asian context that may also be relevant in other world regions. This is done by revealing the ways in which policies structure movements of people in the sending, transit and receiving countries and by shedding light on the international practices and the experience of individuals.
EU Member States need to acknowledge that Europe is not just a destination but also a source region of migrants.
The findings call for improvements in the current EU and national immigration rules to better fit temporary mobility schemes.
Integration policies should be established focusing on the socio-economic integration and equal and fair treatment of temporary migrants.
There is a need for a European asylum policy putting the asylum seekers agency at the heart of the system.
Getting knowledge from the public, which requires the understanding of how people define problems and challenges
Top-down approaches must be critically assessed and arranged and modified into bidirectional forms of communication (instead of classical unidirectional lines of instruction)
Bottom-up approaches, in terms of enabling local actors to develop initiatives complementary to the central directives.
In terms of quality of governance; European strategies towards secure and low-carbon energy must maximize synergy between local initiatives and central government, between top-down and bottom-up approaches, and between technological and economic approaches and citizen-centred perspectives.
Including public perspectives into governance processes leads also to cost reduction.
Managing Disorder. A stronger Transatlantic Bond for More Sustainable Governance
Based on an analysis and policy-relevant research conducted within the Transworld FP7 project, the paper provides policy recommendations by introducing an agenda for transatlantic cooperation to strengthen global and regional governance.
According to the policy recommendations a strong partnership between United States and European countries is essential to preserve Europe’s security and US power; recalibrate relations with Russia along a more constructive pattern; manage crises and conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East; address threats such as nuclear proliferation, jihadism, and organized crime more effectively; and contribute to facilitating the evolution of China into a globally responsible stakeholder. A vibrant EU-US economic relationship is key to supporting EU and US exports, attracting foreign investment, supporting job creation, and setting standards and rules that have a better chance to regulate the world economy. Finally, stronger EU-US ties hold promise for re-shaping governance structures in a way that simultaneously diminishes the risk of great power conflict and spreads ownership and burden of governance to emerging countries.
MYPLACE: Memory, Youth, Political Legacy and Civic Engagement
MYPLACE is an FP7 research project that uses a mixed method approach across 14 countries to map the relationship between political heritage, current levels and forms of civic and political engagement of young people in Europe, and their potential receptivity to radical and populist political agendas.
This policy brief highlights the transnational findings arising from the MYPLACE research and their implications for important European policy agendas. MYPLACE evidence points to the need for politicians to make more effort to reach out to young people and respond better to the messages coming from the young people who participated in the MYPLACE research. They particularly point to a need for politicians to achieve better outcomes on both procedural issues of democratic participation, and substantive issues of social justice, rights, poverty and equality, both generally and in the way that they have impact on young people.
RICHES Taxonomy of cultural heritage definitions
This policy brief presents evidence and recommendations emerging from the research undertaken by RICHIES FP7 research project to develop the RICHES Taxonomy of terms, concepts and definitions. The main recommendations emerging from the research are summarised as follows:
Cultural Heritage related terms, concepts and definitions should address diversified strategies and scenarios, as well as take into account the constant evolution of practices and the growth of innovation currently witnessed in the sector.
Developing a shared CH lexicon requires close and enduring interaction between multiple stakeholders, including CH institutions and research organisations, policy-makers and civil society.
It is crucial to work towards a common research culture in the EU, which values multi- and inter-disciplinarity, diversity and inclusiveness in ways that do not undermine the clarity, validity and reliability of terminologies and theoretical and methodological frameworks.
An internationalist approach is essential in order to understand renewal in CH practices, and the need to integrate a full range of perspectives represented by different minorities, groups and cultures.
Some of the most promising approaches for bridging the gap between institutional and citizen understandings of CH, such as co-creative practices and crowdsourcing, should be encouraged and adopted on a wider scale.
Endorsement of the Taxonomy by the European Commission is, therefore, recommended.