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Now Recruiting: 12 New PhD Fellows in Environmental Humanities

European Environmental Humanities is beginning to find stronger institutional support–here is another opportunity worth sharing to up and coming graduate students.

ENHANCE doctoral program

The Environmental Humanities for a Concerned Europe (ENHANCE) Innovative Training Network is now seeking applicants for twelve PhD/doctoral researchers:

These are fully-funded positions beginning in October 2015 to participate in a jointly-organized European program with events and training hosted by each of the partners for all twelve researchers.

Please consult the Frequently Asked Questions as well as the partner-specific descriptions, deadlines, and eligibility requirements for preparing and submitting an application.

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ISSC global research funding programme Transformations to Sustainability and Call for Seed Funding

We are delighted to share with you the official International Social Science Council (ISSC) announcement of the Transformations to Sustainability Programme and its first preparatory Call for Seed Funding.

The Transformations to Sustainability Programme aims to build scientific understanding of transformative social change in the face of global change and sustainability. More specifically, the programme seeks to:

– Increase the social science contributions necessary to craft more effective, durable and equitable solutions to the problems of global change and sustainability

– Increase the use of such knowledge by policy makers, practitioners, the private sector, citizens and activists

This initiative is intended as a major contribution to the work of Future Earth, a global research platform that provides knowledge and support to accelerate transformations to a sustainable world. Future Earth is co-sponsored by the members of the International Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability.

For more information please see programme description with details of the first call for seed funding and programme website.

SSH in Horizon 2020: letter to the EU Commissioner by EASSH

“Towards Europe 2020: integrating the Social Sciences and Humanities” 

Following up on the Vilnius conference, the following letter was sent to the EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Geoghegan-Quinn by the European Alliance for Social Sciences and Humanities (EASSH). In the letter EASSH protests against the evident sidelining – rather than mainstreaming – of the SSH and proposes:

– a special initiative for environment and education research (synthesization centres)

– explicit focus of research calls on human and social research

– restrict current draft work programmes to one year to monitor developments

– appoint expert groups in an inclusive and transparent manner.

Letter from the European Alliance for the Social Sciences and Humanities:

Dear Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn,

We were delighted to participate in the recent EU Presidency conference «Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities» in Vilnius and we enthusiastically support the Vilnius Declaration. We were much encouraged by your strong words of support for mainstreaming Social Science and Humanities (SSH) research in Horizon 2020, and we took note of your pledge to see words turned into action.

We understand that things will take time and we want to offer our co-operation in mobilizing the interest and commitment of SSH researchers for the research agenda of Horizon 2020.

We are, however, deeply concerned by the low profile given to the SSH in the first draft of the work programme for the first 25% of H2020 (2014-2015). We urge the European Commission not to gamble away the willingness of the SSH community to contribute to research into all Societal Challenges.

So far, we see that the Calls for research enssaged under the Social Challenge approach will have, despite all good intentions, an overriding focus on technology-based solutions, based on outdated linear innovation models and implemented in the traditional silo-like approach.

In order to overcome this deplorable impasse, and building on recommendations made by delegates to the Vilnius conference, we submit the following suggestion:

The Commission should consider support for synthesis centres, that will allow stakeholders

and researchers from across all relevant areas to reflect on how Societal Challenge research can best integrate all necessary and innovative approaches, including a broader inclusion of SSH insights into the European agenda.

We propose the environmental and educational fields as early candidate areas.

As you know, European Social Science and Humanities research is very competitive in the global market place of knowledge and ideas. Europe as a whole would benefit from tapping more decisively into these rich resources. Conversely, if Horizon 2020 should fail to properly integrate the broad areas of competence of SSH research, substantial opportunity costs for the European Union are likely to occur.

We are particularly concerned that Social Challenge 6 (SC6), which is intended to have a particular focus on generating new insights and evidence through SSH research, risks being skewed heavily towards ICT-related applications research and on structural investments unrelated to any specific resaerch needs.

It is important that future SC6 Calls are formulated in such a way that projects can draw on the best of relevant SSH research. This means being explicit about the allocation of funds for research, as opposed to funding currently foreseen for other activities.

In this context, it would be beneficial if approvals of the Work Programmes were limited to just 1-year-periods each : the Commission and the communities can then monitor the implementation of the programme and the successful embedding of SSH.

By the same token, we feel we need to reiterate the importance and urgent need for Advisory Groups to be appointed in an inclusive and transparent manner.

The undersigned members of the EASSH Core Group, leaders from some of the premier research institutes in the fields of SSH, are looking forward to exchanges aimed at making Horizon 2020 a success.

Best Regards, 

EASSH Core Group members and representatives

Ms    Angela    Schindler-Daniels,    Programme    Coordinator     NET4SOCIETY, Project Management Agency, German Aerospace Center, Bonn

Lejf Moos, Professor at Aarhus University, Denmark, and President, European Educational Research Association

Milena Zic-Fuchs, Professor at University of Zagreb, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and Chair of the Science Review Group for the Humanities (ESF), ALLEA Working Group Social Sciences and Humanities

Poul Holm, Professor at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and Chair “European Consortium for Humanities Institutes and Centres” (ECHIC)

Sean Ryder, Professor at NUI Galway, Ireland, and  Chair, HERA Network Board (Humanities in the European Research Area)

Thomas  Risse,  Professor  of  International  Relations,  Free  University  Berlin,  and Chair Scientific Committee for the Social Sciences, Science Europe

Wolfgang Mackiewicz, President, Conseil européen pour les langues / European Language Council (CEL/ELC)

Dr Rüdiger Klein, Founding Chair, European Alliance for the Social Sciences & Humanities (EASSH)

Changing Global Environments – World Social Science Report 2013

Global warming is more about people than carbon emissions, argues 2013 World Social Science Report

 The new edition of the World Social Science Report emphasizing the social sciences’ indispensable contribution to human survival in the face of climate change, has been launched on 15 November at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. To read the full report click here.

Published by UNESCO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the Report, entitled Changing Global Environments, features articles by more than 150 leading experts from all over the world and represents the full gamut of social science subjects: anthropology, economics, development studies, geography, political science, psychology, and sociology. The argument that underpins the 600-page volume is that people, human behaviour and societies need to be at the heart of all attempts to tackle the challenges of environmental change and phenomena studied by the natural sciences.

The work takes stock of the unprecedented and staggering environmental challenges facing society and their potentially devastating consequences on the well-being of people all over the world. Global environmental change impacts everything for everyone on this planet: life support systems, livelihoods, ways of life, actions and interactions. Problems encountered by individuals and communities struggling with social, economic and political crises, persistent poverty, increasing inequalities and social discontent, are already exacerbated by environmental change.

The contribution of the Humanities

The report includes an article on the contribution of the Environmental Humanities to global environmental change by Prof. Rosi Braidotti (Utrecht University, founding board member of the European Consortium for Humanities Institutes and Centres (ECHIC). This article is co-signed by Prof. Poul Holm (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, Chair ECHIC), Prof. Hsuing Ping-Chen (Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Prof. Kum-Kum Bhavnani (University of California – Santa Barbara). To read the article click here.

Call for collaboration

Other articles bring to the fore the need to draw on the social sciences to bring about the economic and behavioural changes required to achieve sustainability. To this end, the Report issues an urgent call for action to the international scientific community. Social scientists need to collaborate more effectively with colleagues from the natural, human and engineering sciences to deliver knowledge that can help address the most pressing of today’s environmental problems and sustainability challenges. And they need to do so in close collaboration with decision-makers, practitioners and the other users of their research.

The report concludes that clearly a new—bolder, better, bigger and different—approach to social science is needed:

·  Bold enough to reframe and reinterpret global environmental change as a fundamentally social process;

·  Better in terms of incorporating social science insights into problem-solving;

·  Bigger in terms of the need for more social scientists to address the challenges of global environmental change;

·   Different by changing the way the social sciences view and practice science—its theories, assumptions, methodologies, institutions, norms and incentives—to help meet the complex interdisciplinary and cross-sector challenges facing us.



After Vilnius

The Lithuanian EU Presidency’s Conference on Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities concluded two short days ago in Vilnius, Lithuania. The leaders and the many student volunteers of Mykolas Romeris University were gracious hosts for the hundreds of researchers, research administrators, and European Commission representatives who descended on their fair city. Those of us who were present from the European Environmental Humanities Alliance noted that the discourse of involving SSH at the outset of funding research programs to address society’s grand challenges affirmed with the transdisciplinary, open-spirited intellectual enterprise of EH researchers in Europe.

Indeed, the Science Europe publication “Humanities in the Societal Challenges,” released to coincide with the conference, also reflects the connection of Environmental Humanities with responsiveness to Europe’s grand challenges. The report includes twelve concrete cases of research that address issues such as green transport, histories of climate migration, and analysis of the unintended consequences of river management. It is fair to describe seven of the twelve as “Environmental Humanities” projects, with lateral connections between EH and others via issues of justice, health disparities, and designing the built environment.

How will we realize livable environmental futures, beyond the horizon of 2020?

This is not a question that can be answered solely by technology and economy. How we transform environment and society is equally and fundamentally a question of values, narratives, practices, and imagination.

The symbolic power of the Vilnius Declaration comes from its crystallization of the principles of openness and commitment necessary for realizing the “value and benefits of integrating Social Sciences and Humanities” into Horizon 2020. The Declaration is also a call to the Humanities to be bold enough to propose and join major collaborative projects of synthesis.

After Vilnius, the European Environmental Humanities Alliance has a mandate for its socially-responsible, transdisciplinary paradigm. We also have a more urgent awareness of our need to represent at the European level our expertise and practical value.

Vilnius Declaration: the European Environmental Humanities Alliance

European Humanities for the Environment

Humans are the key factor in both creating and solving the challenges of global environmental change. The emerging field of the Environmental Humanities represents an under-utilized resource of knowledge, activity and practice that can and must be activated and integrated with the other sciences to guide a more humane transformation of environment and society.

Research outcomes will benefit

Complex problems require all relevant knowledge bases. The quality and usefulness of knowledge is enhanced as the informational basis of concrete issues increases and interpretative knowledge is added to social and natural sciences.

Knowledge of environment and society will be qualitatively enhanced

Humanities research interprets modes of human perception and experience, clarifies and critically assesses underlying assumptions in other sciences, harnesses social engagement, and shapes critical awareness via cultural analysis, public debate and creative expression in ways that will help European citizens negotiate the troubled present and uncertain future of our environmental legacies.

Society will gain from a more successful integration of scientific and human study

Integrated research on global environmental change from the full spectrum of the environmental humanities and social sciences meets the demands for innovative paradigms of knowledge production coming from major international initiatives such as Future Earth (amalgamating ICSU, ISSC, UNESCO, UNEP, UNU, WMO and the Belmont Form), thus helping to realize the goals of transformative, integrated science called for in key visioning reports such as the Transformative Cornerstones of Social Science Research for Global Change (ISSC, 2012).

Researchers at centers, institutions, and networks throughout Europe have already been active developing histories, theories, and interpretations relevant to many of these challenges (see reverse).

We assert that the Environmental Humanities must engage with the wider scientific community — as well as with educational institutions and other key sectors of society — to re-think what it truly means to be human when “Anthropos” (the human being) is coming increasingly to be understood and acknowledged as the defining component of a new geological era, the Anthropocene.

This declaration has been prepared for initial presentation in Vilnius at the “Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities” conference organized by the Lithuanian EU Presidency at Mykolas Romeris University, September 23-24, 2013.

Coinciding with the Vilnius conference, the European Environmental Humanities Alliance has launched an interim website to report on developments occurring within the Alliance and to serve as a point of contact with potential European partners and relevant agencies during the forthcoming visioning process.