Press Release: SSH research is vital to build an innovative and resilient Europe

20 September 2013

Leuven, 20 September 2013. The League of European Research Universities (LERU) makes recommendations for the future of the Social Science and Humanities research in Europe. 

Social Science and Humanities (SSH) research is of vital importance to the future of Europe. This is why LERU in its new advice paper suggests ways in which the EU’s new research programme Horizon 2020 can ensure that SSH research is properly represented. 

In a 2012 paper LERU argued how and why SSH research is essential if Europe and the world are to solve major societal challenges such as ageing populations, food security, clean energy, smart transport or adaptation to climate change. The insights of SSH research are as important as natural-scientific and technological breakthroughs in coming up with innovations that will be useful to governments, companies and citizens. Moreover, it is crucial that SSH insights are taken on board not as an add-on but are inherently built in at the very start of research projects, from the formulation of the questions to be addressed all the way through to the end. 

The LERU paper contains seven chapters for each of the seven societal challenges in H2020, setting out the major SSH research perspectives that need to be addressed. For example, the paper explains how SSH research is needed to take into account, for example:

  • socio-psychological factors and habits of modern life, if we are going to convince an ageing population to remain physically active and healthy;
  • the forces that drive public opinion and the powerful informational and educational role of the arts and the media, if we want societies and individuals to moderate their energy consumption;
  • people’s everyday habits, beliefs, working and commuting routines from a social and psychological perspective if we want to devise smarter and greener transport systems.

A separate chapter in the paper is devoted to across-the-board ethical issues that should be addressed in the societal challenges and other H2020 research programmes.  The paper ends with a call to launch a flagship research initiative aimed at building a resilient and dynamic Europe in a globalised world.

Leading researchers from LERU universities have contributed their expert views to this paper and some will be taking a prominent role in discussing the contributions of SSH research in H2020 at an EU Lithuanian Presidency conference which gets underway next Monday in Vilnius.

Download the paper


For questions about the report or about LERU or to arrange an interview with a LERU representative in your country, contact Dr Katrien Maes, Chief Policy Officer, tel BE +32 16 32 09 04 or +32 473 977 014, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)