On Friday, March 8, the meeting “Social Sciences and Humanities in Horizon Europe” took place on the premises of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), Vienna. It was a follow-up of the Austrian EU Presidency Conference “Impact of Social Sciences and Humanities for a European Research Agenda – Valuation of SSH in mission-oriented research”, which had taken place in Vienna on 28-29 November 2018. As the current EU Research Funding Program, “Horizon 2020”, is coming to an end, and discussions for the next edition, called “Horizon Europe”, have intensified, there is the need and opportunity to engage policy makers and SSH representatives at the national level, in order to open up space for discussion on how to better involve SSH expertise in the drafting process of the thematic clusters of “Horizon Europe”. The clusters are gathered under the paramount title “Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness”.
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Matters
The meeting kicked off with a keynote by Prof. Ulrike Felt who provided food for thought by talking about the role of SSH in coping with societal challenges. Other presentations were about providing key statistics on integration of SSH into the Clusters (“Societal Challenges”) of “Horizon 2020”, information on the state of negotiations regarding “Horizon Europe”, and results from the November Conference. For the latter, Thomas König pointed towards the booklet “Social Sciences and Humanities Research Matters”, a comprehensive set of guidelines addressing “research programs that set out a specific goal to tackle a societal problem through the means and opportunities provided by scientific and scholarly research – both from SSH and STEM”. The presenters agreed that SSH should be further integrated in future EU research funding.
Interdisciplinary and especially SSH-aspects have to be contributed throughout the whole development of a framework program, said Matthias Reiter-Pázmándy, from the initial negotiations, to the Strategic Planning and the yearly Work Programs. Special attention has to be paid to include SSH-researchers in the various Advisory Groups, in particular in the Mission Boards, but also in the evaluation panels of “Horizon 2020” and “Horizon Europe”. Researchers from SSH also should register to be available as evaluators in order to provide enough choice for those who convene the panels. In addition to that, it is important to provide fora, where researchers and policy makers can meet and exchange across the boundaries of disciplines and the various sectoral policy areas. This event did exactly that.
The key element of the meeting, however, concerned the remaining 90 minutes which provided space for discussion among participants. To that end, participants were seated on one of six tables, each of which was dedicated to one of the (prospective) thematic clusters in Horizon Europe. The intention was to bring policy makers (the National Delegates to the specific program committees in “Horizon 2020” and in the upcoming “Horizon Europe”), supporters (the NCPs) and SSH researchers together and discuss how to better take advantage of SSH expertise in designing and shaping the respective thematic cluster.