SSH research and education essential for mankind

21 November 2014

Upon invitation of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and Leiden University, some of the world’s leading research university associations gathered in Leiden, the Netherlands, to discuss and stress the importance of Social Sciences and Humanities research in a globalized world.

Mankind is confronted with complex problems such as economic fragility, religious extremism or an ageing population. Solving these, and many other problems cannot be done without Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH).

The research in SSH is crucial in developing the knowledge to confront these complex societal problems because it contributes to better cross-cultural understanding, whether this be through history, law, economics, literature, sociology or any other SSH discipline. Furthermore a fully effective implementation of technological responses to global challenges requires a profound understanding of human needs, values and motivations.

Next to essential research, Social Sciences and Humanities have an crucial role in educating us how to understand, interpret, and respect our commonalities and our differences. Increased globalization brings increased cultural, social, and economic tensions. Therefore a peaceful and sustainable future based on successful economic and societal development requires an awareness of different perspectives and an understanding of diverse cultures, histories and social institutions. Mutual understanding can foster the respect necessary for a peaceful and stable world order in which economic and societal progress is possible.

The League of European Research Universities(LERU), the Association of American Universities(AAU), the Association of East Asian Research Universities(AEARU), the Group of Eight Australia, the RU11 Japan, the Russell Group(UK), and the U15 (Canada) committed themselves to working together to advance the characteristics described in the ‘Leiden Statement’.

With this statement the research-intensive university networks want to restate and champion the fundamental role that SSH play in our global community and call for an expanded role for the SSH in tackling problems through interdisciplinary research. The signatories committed themselves to:

1)      Ensure that SSH disciplines continue to receive effective support within their institutions

2)      Highlight the contributions of these disciplines to national and global wellbeing;

3)      Ensure that SSH research and education programs flow without unnecessary constraint to the wider community;

4)      Promote strong funding and support for SSH research;

5)      Advance global research collaborations, including interdisciplinary approaches.

LERU Chair, Prof. Alain Beretz (president of the University of Strasbourg), reacts: “SSH research is crucial to understanding and solving the problems global society is dealing with and will need to deal with in the future. Furthermore LERU believes that a better support and promotion of interdisciplinary research, and of global research collaboration, will lead to new understandings that improve the quality of life”.

The Chair of the LERU Community of SSH, Prof. Wim van den Doel (dean of Humanities at Leiden University) adds: “Students from the Social Sciences and Humanities work in government, business and the non-profit sector and add tremendous value to society by taking with them the knowledge and understanding of languages, cultures and societies of the world which enables them to create a richer, resilient and of more divers and humane society”.

pdf press release

Signatories of the Leiden Statement:

The League of European Research Universities -

The Association of American Universities -

The Group of Eight (Australia) -

The Association of East Asian Research Universities -

The RU 11 (Japan)-

The Russell Group (United Kingdom) -

The U15 (Canada) -

RIU Networks and their members

More information

Please contact Prof. Kurt Deketelaere, Secretary-General LERU:+32 499 80 89 99 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Media contact - Bart Valkenaers, Press and Communications Officer:+32 498 08 43 49 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)