Strategic Activities

The following projects are ongoing, or have recently completed with publication.  They were initiated by the Standing Committee for the Social Sciences (SOC (formerly SCSS)) which was replaced by a smaller Scientific Review Group for the period of 2012 to end 2015. 

2015 Roundtable Debates

The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) Working Group Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) and the European Science Foundation (ESF) Scientific Review Group for the Social Sciences (SRG-SOC) will jointly organise, in 2015, two debates on the topics of Demographic Change in Europe and Inequalities. The aim of the events is to illuminate the value of humanities and social science research, with a policy-oriented audience including Members of the European Parliament and/or their staff members, officials from other European Institutions, as well as members of the academic and research communities both based in Brussels and from the Member States.

ESF Panel "Online tools to support transdisciplinary research" at ITD 2015 Conference

The International Transdisciplinarity (ITD) Conference brings together the international community of transdisciplinary scholars and aims at collectively advancing and improving theory and practice of transdisciplinary research. It is organised by the Network for Transdisciplinary Research (td-net).

ESF is sponsoring a panel Online tools to support transdisciplinary research at the ITD 2015 Conference: Sustainability and Health: emerging topics and new challenges for inter- and transdisciplinary research (8-10 September 2015, Basel (CH)). Online toolboxes are increasingly being made available to researchers in social, natural and medical science domains who are involved in inter- and trans-disciplinary research. The developers of five such toolboxes will be brought together by the panel to present the toolboxes and to explain which is best for a particular aim. The panel will be moderated by Professor Julie Thompson Klein (Wayne State University, USA). Speakers are:
* Professor Gabriele Bammer (Australian National University, Canberra)
* Dr Kara Hall (The National Cancer Institute, USA)
* Professor Catherine Lyall (University of Edinburgh, UK)
* Professor Rick Szostak (University of Alberta, Canada)
* Dr Christian Pohl (ETH Zurich and Co-director td-net)

For more information on the conference programmme and registration, please go to the ITD 2015 homepage

Strategic Exploratory Workshops

ESF has run an annual call for Exploratory Workshops, granting awards to 25-40 applicants each year - across all scientific domains.

In the domain of the social sciences, three workshops have also been funded separately as Strategic Exploratory Workshops. The format is the same as for the traditional Exploratory Workshops.

The Future of Science in Society

Convenor(s): Ulrike Felt University of Vienna (AT)
Sponsor(s): ESF SOC (formerly SCSS)
More information: go to webpage

The framework for the activity, including the formulation of what is at stake, consists of the fact that multi-level governance is a crucial problem to be confronted in Europe, and this demands a good understanding of the different sites where science/technology/society relations take shape. How science, technology, innovation and society are intertwined and governed in Europe is undergoing quite substantial change with the creation of the European Research Area and even more so with recent efforts to position Europe as an innovation space by 2020.  Three workshops were held in 2012. The Science Policy Briefing 'Science in Society: Caring for our futures in turbulent times' was launched on 24 September 2013.

Position Paper: The Future of Evidence-based Bullying and Violence Prevention in Europe

Following a strategic conference Evidence-Based Prevention of Bullying and Youth Violence: European Innovations and Experiences in 2011, the SOC (formerly SCSS) asked the organisers, Professor Manuel Eisner and Dr. Tina Malti, to write a Position Paper based on the conference and the recommendations. 

Across Europe, there is an increasing demand for good evidence that can inform policies aimed at reducing violence against children and adolescents more effectively. To meet this demand the present position paper outlines ten priority areas for future research in the field. These priority areas relate to key research and practice domains where progress is essential to provide policy makers at the European, the national and the local levels with better knowledge about how to support a positive child development and reduce the substantial harm resulting from violence and aggression.

The Position Paper was published in April 2013.

Position Paper: Developing a New Understanding of Enabling Health and Wellbeing in Europe: Harmonising Health and Social Care Delivery and Informatics Support to Ensure Holistic Care

click on the image to download the paper

A key contribution to ageing, convalescence and well-being

In 2010 ESF funded an Exploratory Workshop convened by Professor Michael Rigby at Keele University on The Challenges of Developing Social Care Informatics as an Essential Part of Holistic Health Care.  This workshop identified a range of issues that needed to be addressed, and went further with the production of a unanimous Declaration which declared the fundamental importance of providing harmonised health and social care services.

The paper presents the case for systematic research activity in the social sciences, at European and national levels, to further a number of interlinked citizen-focused objectives.

The content of this paper was drafted by Professor Michael Rigby, with support from Professor Sabine Koch, Dr. Debbie Keeling and Penny Hill, and contributions from Dr. Albert Alonso and Dr. Els Maeckelberghe.

The Position Paper was commissioned by the SOC (formerly SCSS) in 2012.

Position Paper: The Professionalisation of Academics as Teachers in Higher Education

click on the image to download the paper

The Position Paper was commissioned by the SOC (formerly SCSS) in 2012.  It builds on the outcomes of the ESF Exploratory Workshop The Impact Of Training For Teachers In Higher Education held in 2010, and on the book by a number of the workshop participants, Teacher Development in Higher Education: Existing Programs, Program Impact, and Future Trends (Routledge, August 2012).

One of the conclusions of the workshop was that directing attention to teaching in higher education is critical for the future of European higher education. Accordingly, this paper calls the attention of policy-makers in Europe to the dire need to improve the quality of teaching in higher education and makes recommendations at the European, national, and institutional levels to achieve this.

Under the leadership of Dr Gabriela Pleschová an Editorial Team - Dr. Herman Buelens, Dr. Mieke Clement, Dr. Jennifer Murphy, Dr. Kathleen Quinlan, Dr. Torgny Roxa, Dr. Eszter Simon and Dr. Mátyás Szabó - has prepared a Position Paper with a number of concrete recommendations.

International PhD Mentoring-Workshop on ‘Children’s Well-Being'

Dates and Location: 13-14 September 2012, Pädagogische Hochschule Heidelberg  (DE)
Convenor(s): Asher Ben-Arieh The Haruv Institute (IL) & Sabine Andresen University of Frankfurt (DE)
Sponsor(s): ESF SOC (formerly SCSS) & International Society for Child Indicators (ISCI)
More informationgo to webpage

The International Society for Child Indicators Research (ISCI), in collaboration with the European Science Foundation (ESF), organised an international mentoring workshop for PhD students. The Haruv Institute and Goethe University of Frankfurt-am-Main have also supported this initiative. The workshop offered the opportunity for doctoral students and young researchers to discuss their PhD projects with world renowned experts in children’s well-being research.

ESF Junior Summit "Water: Unite and Divide. Interdisciplinary approaches for a sustainable future"

Dates and Location: 27-30 August 2012, Stresa, Lago Maggiore (IT)
Chair: Milena Žic-Fuchs, University of Zagreb (HR)
Sponsor(s): ESF Standing Committees for the Humanities - Life, Earth and Environmental Sciences - Physical and Engineering Sciences -Social Sciences
More informationgo to webpage

This Junior Summit offers, on a competitive basis, full-cost awards to leading early career researchers from across the academic spectrum – from Humanities and Social Sciences to Life, Environmental, Natural and Mathematical Sciences -  to participate in a four-day, in-depth discussion of the challenges and opportunities posed by inter (multi, trans) disciplinary research. Discussions will be fuelled by world-class experts from very different academic backgrounds.

'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly': Understanding collaboration between the social sciences and the life sciences

Dates and Location: 12-13 March 2012, London (UK)
Convenor(s): Nikolas Rose King's College London (UK)
Sponsor(s): ESF SOC (formerly SCSS) 
More information: go to webpage

This strategic initiative of the ESF’s Standing Committee for the Social Sciences addresses the recognised need for the social sciences to develop closer links with cognate disciplines in the humanities and the life sciences. It will facilitate discussion about what counts as new, good or bad practice in interdisciplinary collaboration between the social and life sciences and will offer room for debate about needs and priorities for interdisciplinary collaboration between social and life sciences. A Strategic Workshop Report was published in February 2013.

The Science of Innovation

Dates and Location: 28 February 2012, Brussels (BE)
Sponsor(s): ESF SOC (formerly SCSS) - co-organised with STOA
More information: go to webpage

Innovation, and the knowledge, creativity and motivation that drive it, are key to human progress and offer a powerful source of new wealth. However, innovation is also a dynamic, complex, multi-level and interdisciplinary phenomenon which is not easy to understand, and challenging to influence. The study of innovation is an important, growing field of research in the social and economic sciences.

This conference presented state-of-the-art, thought-provoking insights from the cutting edge of 'the science of innovation' on crucial issues for today's policy makers. A Policy Brief has been published as a result.

The Human Brain: from Cells to Society

Dates and Location: 14-15 December 2011, Berlin (DE)
Sponsor(s): All ESF Standing Committees
More information: go to webpage

This strategic initiative  aims to enable Europe’s scientific community, in interaction with policy makers, to develop medium to long-term views and an analysis of future research developments with the aim of defining research agendas at national and European level.

The outcome of the meeting will be a science policy publication that will serve as a scientific validation for the interest in the specific topics/areas identified. To this end, a science writer will participate in the meeting who will synthesize the six discussions. A strategic report has been published.