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Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities, Lithuanian EU Presidency’s Conference

Final Report Summary - SSH HORIZONS (Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities, Lithuanian EU Presidency’s Conference)

Executive Summary:
During Lithuanian Presidency to the EU Council Mykolas Romeris University in partnership with the European Commission, European Research Council, Research Council of Lithuania and Ministry of Education and Science organised a conference Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities that was held in Vilnius on 23-24th September, 2013. The conference was under Patronage of the President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė. The Steering Committee of the conference included distinguished European scientific leaders from different fields of sciences chaired by Professor Helga Nowotny, President of the European Research Council (2010-2013).

The two-day conference was dedicated to the relations of social sciences and humanities (SSH) and science / research policy, in particular Horizon 2020. The first day of the conference was organized along three thematic topics:

1) Diversities and Common Grounds,
 What obstacles and problems are the SSH communities facing?
 What are structural difficulties of SSH?
 How to make SSH more open to society and involve society in the process?
2) Evaluation and Assessment,
 How to evaluate SSH research?
3) Education and Training.
 How to provide training to SSH researchers in later stages of their academic career, make mobility of researchers more fluent and natural?

Following these topics, the second day of the conference focused on the role of SSH in Horizon 2020 and capacities needed to meet the challenges addressed.

The conference brought together scholars from SSH and other disciplines, business companies and policy makers, industry and media representatives aiming to bring forward a better visibility, integration, and implementation of SSH into science and research policies. The target audience included about 400 people, a good mixture of stakeholders including individual researchers and representatives from universities, researchers’ associations and societies, state institutions, business companies, non-governmental organisations, civil society groups, and media. The conference also attracted scientists involved in the SSH policy discourse of the last years. They acted as multipliers for the conference’s objectives and the conference served as a consolidation space for such a discourse.

Before the conference, an open consultation with researchers in all fields and disciplines of SSH was carried out. The results of the consultation, together with the discussions at the conference, were used to draft an informed declaration that was disseminated to the public. A conference report with contribution of keynote speakers, reports from parallel sessions, consultation report, and commentaties was prepared and disseminated. Other dissemination and public relations activities included appearances on official European Commission and President's of the Republic of Lithuania websites, media briefings and press releases in English and Lithuanian, articles and comments on the web, appearances on radio and TV programmes, live broadcasting via internet portal, articles in national, international and specialized press, comments via social media. Project website address:

Project Context and Objectives:

Horizon 2020, the largest multi-annual research framework programme in the history of the European Union, has started in 2014 and will last for seven years. With this ambitious programme, the European Commission attempts to solve several policy issues at once: politically, it wants to foster the path towards a more innovative Europe, which is clearly seen as a way out of the current crisis. Administratively, it wants to tackle previous criticism about the conduct of research projects by introducing measures of “simplification”. Strategically, it wants to achieve better results to the challenges that Europe is facing by giving direction and thus by influencing the way research is organised.

The latter is reflected in two aspects: one consists in identifying the “Societal Challenges” as one of three pillars of Horizon 2020. The “Challenges”-pillar provides more than 29 billion Euros, ca. 38% of the overall budget, to tackle what has been pre-defined as the great problems to be addressed by the Union in the coming years. The content of this pillar was subject to a long political discussion between European Commission, Member States, and the European Parliament. As a result, the number of challenges grew from six to seven.

The second aspect, following a proposition by the European Commission that found almost unanimous agreement between the European Parliament as well as the Member States, is the introduction of an “integrative approach” in the way the Societal Challenges are defined. Basically, this means that “silos” (the favourite negative term frequently used by the Commission) should be abolished, while interdisciplinary research across established disciplines should be fostered. Only then, it is argued, will real answers emerge to the pressing questions of policy-makers and citizen alike, such as sustainable energy, climate change, healthy ageing and other health issues, etc.
The official disclosure of the work programmes in December 2013 allows us a first assessment in terms of their integrative potential. Unfortunately, and because of the haste under which they were produced, the first Horizon 2020 Work Programmes have taken up the new approach only in a very uneven way. In some, the integration of SSH is nominally mentioned, though not really substantiated; in a few, substantial steps are made in the right direction; while others again have been drafted in the plain old way.

This unevenness only adds to the fear that had already emerged among representatives of the social sciences and humanities since the first presentations of Horizon 2020 in 2011 that the “integrative approach” would actually mean that their particular fields of research would be diminished; and that beneath the nice talk of “integration”, dedicated programmes for the social sciences and humanities would be expulsed. Since then many open letters have been written, and the Commission has gone at great pains to reassure the SSH community that no such cuts would take place.

This was the overall context in which the members of the Steering Committee of the Vilnius Conference met for the first time in September 2012. Indeed, the Committee soon came to realise that there was a potential amount of truth in those fears. However, the Committee also felt sympathetic with the overall aim of Horizon 2020, namely to overcome the silos of research funding, and to foster integrated approaches.


As a consequence, the Steering Committee decided that the opportunity provided by the Conference under the Lithuanian Presidency should be used to counter the looming potential threat of de-facto diminishing the place for the social sciences and humanities from the Horizon 2020 programme. At the same time, the SSH community should be alerted to reflect on how to deal more actively with the opportunities that the shifting framework conditions of Horizon 2020 offer to them, instead of complaining about losing their stakes.

How could this be achieved? On the one hand, it was clear that the conference would have to go beyond previous events organized on the topic. Plenty of such meetings had taken place in the decade before. However, they were mostly dealing with the role of SSH on a very abstract level, aiming at making an impact on the SSH community rather than on the policy-makers. Quite to the contrary, the Vilnius conference therefore concentrated on a very concrete question, namely how the intended integration should actually take place. The aim of the conference was to produce a double impact: on the community of researchers and on policy-makers whose role in the process of integration would be at least as crucial. It aimed at bringing together these different communities as well as to create a space for “representation” and for finding a voice towards policy. Only through a mutual and open discussion how to shape and practically apply the “integrative approach” could it be made to work in earnest.

Thus, the aims of the conference in Vilnius were two-fold: on the one hand, it aimed at bringing policy makers and administrators together with Social Science and Humanities representatives, in order to discuss in detail which preconditions had to be met for the integration of SSH in each of the challenges to succeed. On the other hand, it attempted to enhance the self-perception and self-confidence of the SSH community so that it would claim more boldly its share in the Horizon 2020.

Two provisions aimed to assure that this could be achieved.

A) Consultation and Declaration. In early 2013, the Steering Committee launched an open consultation with European members of the Social Sciences and Humanities (individuals, associations and learned societies, as well as institutions and funding organisations) asking them to provide a comprehensive picture on how they perceived the situation of their field and what the contribution of the European research funding programme should be. To a large extent, this consultation provided the basis for drafting a conference declaration, which has been adopted by the participants at the end of the conference and has been handed over to the Lithuanian Minister of Education and Science as the formal result of the conference.

B) Parallel Sessions. In order to pin down the requirements for successful integration, including the practicalities of the more concrete (and to some extent diverse) integration of SSH in the seven societal challenges, the Steering Committee dedicated a major part of the conference to parallel sessions, each on one of the Societal Challenges as outlined in the Horizon 2020 legislation. These parallel sessions meetings were envisioned as “workshops” where representatives from the social sciences and humanities would discuss with Commission representatives and representatives of the natural sciences mainly two questions: what are the potential contributions which the SSH can bring to solving / enlightening the specific societal challenge? And what are specific conditions that need to be met for the SSH in order to be able to make this contribution.

Project Results:


Executive Summary

The objective of consultation was to learn more about the current situation and the ambitions of the European research community as well as to identify the needs and structural problems of specific fields, with an emphasis on their potential to contribute to the success of the new research framework programme, Horizon 2020.

From 22 April to 8 July 2013 researchers previously involved with or planning to carry out EU-funded research in the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH) were contacted via email. They were asked for their views on a set of five questions which were designed to take the pulse of the SSH research community and prepare a declaration of the conference: Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities, Sept 23-24th, Vilnius, Lithuania, Mykolas Romeris University.

The results of the analysis of the 306 consultation responses received from all over Europe were used for the thematic design of the conference. Three major themes were identified: interdisciplinarity, methodology, and obstacles/challenges in SSH research funding. They resulted in the following session topics: diversity and common ground, training and education, impact and evaluation, structural funding, newly emerging topics, and widening participation. The next step was to discuss how best to proceed with the integration of the SSH into the seven societal challenges of Horizon 2020: health and demographic change, food security and the bioeconomy, secure energy, smart transport, climate change and environment, inclusive and reflexive societies, and secure societies.

Results of the consultation have provided valuable input for the drafting of the Vilnius declaration on Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities handed to the EU Council of Ministers by the Lithuanian Minister of Science and Education.

Open consultation process in detail

Between 22 April and 8 July 2013 we contacted researchers who had been involved in or were planning to carry out EU-funded research in the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities. We asked for their views on a set of five questions, which were designed to take the pulse of the SSH research community and prepare a declaration that was handed over to the Lithuanian Minister of Science and Education at the conference: Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities, Sept 23-24th, Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania. The declaration was also disseminated to the representatives of the European Commission, the European Council of Ministers, the conference participants, and relevant communities via internet and social media, such as Twitter.

The aim of the consultation was to learn more about the current status and the ambitions of the research community as well as to identify the needs and structural problems of specific fields with special emphasis on their potential to contribute to the success of the new research framework programme: Horizon 2020.

The consultation has circulated in the wider SSH research community, irrespective of whether individuals or institutions are already active in EU-funded research. Indeed, we believe it is of great importance to reach out also to those SSH communities that have not yet been involved in EU-funding. This includes researchers who are based outside Europe but cooperate with colleagues in Europe.

Request for consultation

The following questions were sent out via our partner organisations (see list below) to the European SSH communities:
1. SSH research is often conducted in disciplinarily defined contexts. This may be an obstacle in a problem-driven research environment (“societal challenges”). Can you give examples of how your own research area has been involved in (a) opening up to other research fields, (b) translating findings and/or methods to or from other academic fields, (c) contributing to the emergence of new, cross-disciplinary fields, and/or (d) transcending, with its results and insights, the fields of academic research?

2. The research agendas of the different subfields of SSH are very heterogeneous. What are the broad research questions, new methodological or theoretical developments, or generally new approaches that are high on your own research agenda? Which ones are high on the research agenda of your field? Where do you see potential contributions to societal relevance?

3. Horizon 2020 will provide new opportunities for SSH to contribute to new research on “societal challenges”. What are the potential contributions from your field? Please specify the “societal challenge/s” to which contributions from your research community are most likely, and suggest successful steps in this direction, if possible.

4. Do you foresee (or have you experienced) obstacles that may prevent you and your research community from making contributions to the “societal grand challenges” approach? Please provide specific indications.

5. In order to foster a more integrative approach that would also benefit the SSH research communities, what would you consider the most important incentives that Horizon 2020 could provide?
Should you have any additional comments, please feel free to share them with us.

Since it was an open consultation process distributed via snowballing and not a survey, we do not know the total number of respondents. Hence, we cannot provide a quantitative analysis of response rates.

The consultation process was scientifically supervised by the Conference Steering Committee:
Helga Nowotny (chair), Ruta Petrauskaite (Vice Chair), Giedrius Viliunas (Vice Chair), Jutta Allmendinger, Paul Boyle, Craig Calhoun, Gustavo Cardoso, Rivka Feldhay, Poul Holm, Pavel Kabat, Alain Peyraube, Aura Reggiani, Peter Tindemans, Wim van den Doel, Michel Wieviorka, Björn Wittrock

Responses – Overview

306 responses that reached the Steering Committee were used for analysis. Many contain highly elaborated statements. Responses were collected at Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius and entered into a database. The responses were analysed by the team in Vienna with regard to the conference topics in order to integrate this expertise into the discussions in each session. After the conference, a second deeper discourse analytic phase generated this consultation report, which will hopefully provide further input to the discussion of Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities.

A detailed list of respondents by institution and stakeholder organisation can be found in the Annex of this report.

Fields and disciplines

Many respondents also mentioned their fields of expertise. We compiled their answers in a Wordle Graphic for an overview: the size of words represents frequency, however their position has no meaning.

Most of the respondents repeatedly declared themselves as coming from an interdisciplinary background, stating that many SSH are already working in a cross-disciplinary way or have many possibilities for working together with other SSH, sciences and engineering. Especially those working at the interfaces of health, law, economics, linguistics, history and psychology put the emphasis on the importance of truly interdisciplinary review and evaluation frameworks, and stressed the fact that – although their knowledge and expertise is highly in demand in policy or business contexts – their academic careers are not reflecting this societal need. Furthermore, it was noted that disciplinary specialisation per se is rooted in traditionally discipline-specific university training. Especially in Europe this is causing the formation of closed disciplinary communities that would need more incentives to step outside and ask interdisciplinary questions and form interdisciplinary teams. More about the issue of interdisciplinarity will follow in the Results section of this report.

Methodology: identifying themes for discussion from an open consultation process

We received 306 responses that fulfilled the basic criteria for the analytic process. The open questions were not aimed at obtaining statistical data; instead we were looking for useful in-depth narratives and recommendations from the valuable experiences of the targeted communities.

The aim of the analysis was to produce detailed and nuanced insights into the status and future of SSH communities in Europe. The results of the analysis were used for the on-going conceptualization of the conference programme, and had a direct impact on the drafting of the Vilnius Declaration.

Following a content analytic approach [1], we annotated the text corpus and extracted the statements embedded in the wider (con)textual setting for each annotated category. The categories were defined not ex-ante but during the close reading of the responses. Such a coding process is recognised as production of data, both by subdividing the data as well as assigning categories. Codes or categories are tags (labels) for allocating units of meaning to the excerpts of the corpus of consultation answers. Creating categories triggers the construction of a conceptual scheme that fits the data: thematic clusters were formed from the annotated categories. Furthermore, this approach helps us to make comparisons across data, change and drop categories, and even look for blind spots and empty spaces. This form of data condensation or data distillation in establishing categories is to be regarded both as an organising tool and the outcome of the analysis process.

Results: identifying the main questions and themes for the conference and further discussion
General results

Besides a very comprehensive list of recommendations, we could identify three main thematic strands in the corpus of responses: interdisciplinarity, new digital methods and digitisation, and SSH and European funding policy. Before introducing them in detail according to the scheme we developed for the conference programme, here is a summary:

1.The issue of interdisciplinarity (often used synonymously with transdisciplinarity and crossdisciplinarity) was brought up by two thirds of the consultation respondents. There is consensus in most responses that SSH is not just conducted in disciplinary contexts, and that contemporary SSH are inherently interdisciplinary, e.g. in fields like cultural studies, urban studies, and STS. However, some respondents mentioned that interdisciplinary SSH are still perceived as more discipline-bound because the research process leads to a transformation of established fields into new fields with new names or labels. In contrast actual disciplinary oriented fields and also a lot of STEM research seem to work more in multi-disciplinary settings, where different disciplines provide distinct input, and new fields and disciplines emerge through combination rather than through merging of existing practices, as is the case in interdisciplinary SSH. The main anticipated problem concerns the wide gap between horizontal themes in research funding and the often strict and conservative vertical hierarchies of disciplines, university settings and monodisciplinary publication and outreach contexts. Thus, a priority will be to rethink academic hierarchies (and ‘containers’) and how to overcome them, how to provide spaces for the development of new skills, methods and group collaboration, and for experimentation with new configurations of research fields. Furthermore, interdisciplinary research should include the deep analysis and reflection on the nature of different problems, to avoid superficiality for the sake of application of research results. Last, but not least, the question remains how to create robust evaluation and assessment procedures for interdisciplinary research, and how to find experts with experience in interdisciplinarity to evaluate such proposals or project reports. However, the objective of interdisciplinarity should not remain an end in itself. Instead researchers have to learn to put it into practice, build it into proposals or implement it into concrete work packages from the very start, organise diverging communication practices and different time horizons, and finally collate multi-disciplinary approaches and outcomes into interdisciplinary results. The role of funding agencies in establishing an interdisciplinary research landscape should not be underestimated. However, this needs a clear understanding of the complexities of SSH related research and a sense of flexibility to allow for constant development and organisational learning.

2. New digital methods and digitization efforts (sometimes hyped as “big data”) bring about the necessity to deal with the lack of education and training in these fields, and the lack of reflexivity when it comes to either adapting methods or developing SSH specific approaches in the digital realms. How can local knowledge, cultures, and regional solutions be compared and brought together with global models, European platforms, and diverse expectations of (cultural) heritage services? Will such new digital developments include new forms of public participation, and new forms of expertise?

3. Nearly all respondents identified the need for SSH to be involved in research policy making and in all steps of defining work programmes, advisory groups, and specifically in the assessment and evaluation of inter/transdisciplinarity. It is demanded that horizontal issues require more than stable long-term funding schemes to keep teams intact and deepen the approaches. Not the funding scheme but the problem focus of an issue should determine which countries, disciplines and stakeholders are required to be involved. For interdisciplinary approaches it would be good to organize networks and platforms, and finance project pre-phases, including proposal writing. More details on recommendations regarding organization and administration of research funding can also be found in the next section where answers by funding bodies are collected.

Detailed results

1. Diversity and Common Ground

The Social Sciences and Humanities are a diverse field of theoretical approaches and research practices; this diversity is a blessing and a curse at the same time. Many examples show that the institutional, linguistic, disciplinary and even national richness of SSH is the bedrock of creativity and cross-disciplinary thinking. But its downside is fragmentation, which often leads to lack of visibility and lonesome scholarship. For the further integration and fostering of Social Sciences and Humanities in Europe as well as in European Framework Programmes it will therefore be necessary to take the lead, define new spaces for collaboration in the SSH and with the sciences and engineering, and to focus on SSHs capacities to engage with interdisciplinary approaches. Consultation respondents also highlighted the importance of SSH-specific trans-national and translational infrastructures in order to strengthen collaboration on common ground but with different perspectives. Furthermore, it will be important that the European SSH establish a firm and stable representational agent – a polyphonic voice – for negotiations with policy and administration.

2. Training and Education

Universities continue to be the key site for training and educating the next generation of SSH scholars and researchers. Therefore, the structure, governance and modes of funding of universities are of prime importance. So is the rapid advancement of new technologies. New kinds of data and new ways of data collection and analysis are now available and open new opportunities for research, but also for education. We need innovations both in the relation of teaching and learning, but also in the close relation of teaching, training and research, especially when it comes to issues of inter- or trans-disciplinarity. Many respondents also addressed the important role of SSH in the education of future decision makers and the importance of an ideal of humanistic education to counteract global market-driven logics.

3. Impact and Evaluation

One criticism of the fields of Social Sciences and Humanities concerns the transfer of evaluation standards between fields, without due consideration of their specificities when it comes to “measure” research productivity. Such complaints have their valid points as the main publication output can be journal articles or monographs; team sizes can be smaller or bigger and scholars can work and publish alone or with others. Another concern is the social impact of SSH research and how to evaluate SSH as societal stakeholders.

Many SSH communities have started to develop or apply their own methods for evaluating various kinds of output and results of SSH research, which go beyond traditional bibliometrics. While there are no standard references and databases for publications in the SSH domain that account for the vast diversity of fields and especially for their multilingualism, social indicators and other assessment tools are either in their infancy or very unevenly distributed. Finally, SSH fields and disciplines behave rather conservatively when it comes to applying Open Access. Concrete measures to be taken: first and foremost SSH need to develop their own perspective on questions of evaluation. They have to establish their own standards and norms, at the same time should involve themselves more in the scientometric and political activities to define research assessment procedures. Social Impact of SSH includes certainly demonstrable contributions of research to society at large.

Societal Challenges in Horizon2020

1. Health, demographic change and well-being

Challenges to global health and wellbeing (including mental health) present significant economic, societal and ethical burdens in the early part of the 21st century, and are associated with dramatic demographic shifts occurring as a result of political conflict, migration, technological innovation, population ageing, and other factors. Consultation respondents repeatedly state that Social Sciences and Humanities disciplines must harness, develop and innovate key theoretical and methodological approaches to develop solutions to these challenges that can be translated efficiently into applications for the benefit of society. But as the final negotiations on Horizon 2020 continue, the question is how to integrate Social Sciences and Humanities into the new European Research Framework programme. Respondents remarked specific problems of disciplinarity in health and wellbeing research; and described SSH approaches, models and paradigms that can address concrete problems in the Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing pillar. Some questions raised are: how can efficient and productive cross-fertilisation of disciplinary expertise be accomplished in concrete work programmes? How will an emphasis on personalisation in health and healthcare interact with public health principles of equity, justice and the public good, and the new economic focus on ‘big data’? What kinds of research and research collaborations are necessary to capture the global dimensions of demographic change in a way that appropriately respects and describes the experiences of individuals and families in their local contexts?

2. Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research, and the bio-economy

According to the current wording of Horizon 2020 the specific objective of this research challenge is to secure sufficient supplies of safe, healthy and high quality food and other bio-based products, by developing productive, sustainable and resource-efficient primary production systems, fostering related ecosystem services and the recovery of biological diversity, alongside competitive and low carbon supply, processing and marketing chains. This will accelerate the transition to a sustainable European bio-economy, bridging the gap between new technologies and their implementation. More and more biological resources are needed to satisfy demand for a secure and healthy food supply, bio-materials, biofuels and bio-based products, ranging from consumer products to bulk chemicals. However the capacities of the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems required for their production are limited, while there are competing claims for their utilisation, and they are often not managed optimally, as shown for example by a severe decline in soil carbon content and fertility and fish stock depletion. Consultation respondents remind us that there is underutilised scope for fostering ecosystem services from farmland, forests, marine and fresh waters by integrating sustainable agronomic, environmental, and social goals. In the past, the EU research in food, sustainability and the bio-economy has paid too little attention to human behavioral change, social acceptability, and acceptance of changes in the food system. We need to discuss methodologies that complement each other in providing understanding of the different aspects and impacts of the changes that are proposed, and to a greater extent try to integrate the perspectives from different fields of science. Thus, it will be of particular importance to focus on the challenges and opportunities of research and trans-disciplinary collaboration: how to integrate SSH perspectives in the definition and specification of topics and tasks? How to implement innovative research in the development and adaptation of improved food policies, technologies, processes and services? How can we ensure that impact assessment strategies at programme and project level include appropriate criteria and indicators? Social innovation regarding participatory approaches involving citizens as well as public acceptability of bio-economic solutions will provide further topics for discussion.

3. Secure, clean and efficient energy

According to the Commission proposal for Horizon 2020 the energy challenge will encompass the following broad lines of activities: reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint by smart and sustainable use; low-cost, low-carbon electricity supply; alternative fuels and mobile energy sources; a single, smart European electricity grid; new knowledge and technologies; robust decision making and public engagement; market uptake of energy innovation. We need to identify existing obstacles and ways of overcoming them in order to make optimal use of the knowledge, capabilities and skills available in the needed broad spectrum of perspectives. It will be of particular importance for the energy field to discuss the challenges and opportunities of interdisciplinary or, rather, trans-disciplinary collaboration: embedding SSH perspectives in the definition and specification of topics and tasks as well as in the implementation of the research activities related to the development, implementation and adoption of new or improved energy policies, technologies, processes and services. Also ex-ante and ex-post impact assessment at programme and project level and appropriate criteria and indicators as well as the assessment of alternative pathways as the basis for taking decisions in research and development processes are issues that will have to be addressed. Participatory approaches will have to be developed and adapted in order to fit the contemporary settings of stakeholders. Therefore, the perspectives from the Social Sciences and the Humanities are essential; missing them would mean missing decisive understanding of what will be required to reach the ambitious goals for Europe’s energy system.

4. Smart, green and integrated transport

A great deal of attention has recently been paid to the interdisciplinary role of SSH, with special reference to the relevance of transport evolution and its network externalities. Consequently, embedding SSH in the Horizon 2020 Transport Challenge plays an extremely important role, from both the research and policy viewpoints. European trends show different speed of mobility dynamics (slow and fast), for different geographical contexts (at different scale-levels) and for different socio-cultural contexts: SSH efforts seem necessary here in understanding and forecasting these different trends. These different patterns clearly reflect different people’s and society’s needs at different spatial scale levels (urban/regional/national/European/worldwide): it then becomes essential, in the light Horizon 2020 actions, to understand why there are these needs and what exactly are these needs: how can SSH widen and foster its essential role here? How can technical solutions and policies (e.g. to influence or regulate mobility behavior) be sustainably brought together to address societal issues such as urban congestion, mobility needs of an ageing population or the need for low-traffic zones? How can this core expertise of SSH be further developed? Do the transport research and innovation activities planned in Horizon 2020 include the ‘real’ practical applications of SSH approaches that enhance the effectiveness of technical solutions.

5. Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials

Many consultation respondents were taking up the topic of the “societal challenge” as formulated under Horizon 2020, with the objective “to achieve a resource and water efficient and climate change resilient economy and society, the protection and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems, and a sustainable supply and use of raw materials”. Maybe more than any other, this topic requires international collaboration at least at European level. At the same time, it is probably the most disputed one. It is tempting to define seemingly clear-cut policy targets; however, recent history proves how difficult it is for national governments to comply. Consequently, some of the key issues discussed in the responses and in the conference session are: what is currently the role of SSH in relating political targets to scientific research findings; and should this role be improved or altered altogether? How can SSH research contribute to the global efforts of climate research and environment studies? How do human behavior and societal relations towards environment and resources evolve, and what lessons can be drawn from it?

6. Europe in a changing world – inclusive, innovative and reflective societies

Demographic challenges, protest movements, increasing social inequality within and between EU Member States, the digital turn, cultural and religious diversity, the continuing change of values, the absence of a great narrative for Europe, the EU’s position in a global context: the expectations vis-à-vis Social Sciences and Humanities are not only huge; they are immense. In all areas, we lack research that is problem-driven and focusing on basic research. Moreover, it has to contribute to answering today’s and tomorrow’s big questions. Our panel, thus, will focus first and foremost on issues of content. Do the three catchwords ‘innovative’, ‘inclusive’ and ‘reflective’ frame the content of Horizon 2020 societal challenge 6 satisfactorily? Are they precise enough to inspire and provide guidance? What exactly, for instance, do we understand with the term ‘reflective’? At the same time, we have to talk about the different ways and formats of research funding. All of them have to be open to the participation of all researchers, have to be able to connect to other disciplines and have to be the least bureaucratic possible. We need formats that are conceived for the long term and that benefit from important funding amounts. We also need innovative antenna programmes that can also be set up at short notice. Transfer programmes are central. Nothing would be worse than the SSH distancing themselves from the social phenomena and the societal actors that carry them. How do we reach these goals? How do we attract the best researchers? How do we motivate the best evaluators? How shall quality assurance for research look like? And, in particular: how do we assure the legitimacy of SSH within Horizon 2020 that research needs?

7. Secure societies – protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens

With the current seven-year Security Research and Innovation programme coming to a close by end of 2013, this session is dedicated to the discussion of the successor programme in Horizon 2020. The societal challenge as defined as “secure societies – protecting freedom and security of Europe and its citizens” emphasizes to foster security in a context of unprecedented global transformations, while “strengthening the European culture of freedom and justice”. Therefore, dimensions such as human rights, environmental risks, political stability, cultural identity, privacy, or migration need to be taken into account when trying to understand causes, develop and apply innovative and socially and ecologically compatible solutions, and integrating objectives of European security industry, market demands, citizens’ rights, as well as research. These dimensions represent core themes and expertise of the Social Sciences and Humanities. Answers to the societal challenge of security will emerge only if equal collaboration between all stakeholders is put into practice. So we have to ask: What have we learned from the previous Framework Programmes? Which are the challenging questions for SSH and how may they respond to them? How can we put multilateral collaboration into practice? The session brings together researchers, who are experienced and genuinely interested in finding novel forms of integrative collaboration. They aim at identifying existing obstacles and ways of overcoming them and suggest concrete ways of how to move forward within the next work programmes of Horizon 2020.

8. Emerging trends and organizational needs

Social Sciences and Humanities are currently facing new organizational needs, such as international and cross-disciplinary research infrastructures, issues related to digitization, and multi-lingual access to scientific knowledge. Furthermore, they have to deal with changing publishing cultures and the growing demand for open access to knowledge and to data. At the same time, exciting trends of new theoretical and methodological approaches are currently surfacing. This session was dedicated to explore some of the most promising emerging trends in order to discuss opportunities for SSH.

9. Smart specialization and structural funding

With a fresh emphasis on harmonizing structural funding for research under the motto of Smart Specialisation, the European Union would like to streamline regional educational and research capacities. This session was dedicated to a discussion of the diversity of regional practices in Social Sciences and Humanities. Five speakers were invited to give a brief statement on the situation in their countries based on their own experiences with including SSH in Smart Specialization Strategies and recent programmes of structural funding. The focus is on success stories as well as challenges to be met in the process of future funding allocation for SSH infrastructures, education and research. The session highlights the potential of SSH for the achievement of common European goals.

10. European Research Council: widening participation

No other part of European research funding has a higher share dedicated to the Social Sciences and Humanities than the European Research Council (ERC). Solely based on excellence, the ERC has gained great reputation and offers a unique opportunity also for SSH to advance frontier research and to attract visibility. However, the discrepancies in the geographical spread of the ERC grants concern scientists and policy makers alike. Based on individual experiences from three ERC Grantees in the Social Sciences and Humanities, and on statistical evidence provided by ERC Scientific Council members, this session aims at discussing what can be done in order to widening participation in ERC funding calls from all parts of Europe.

Collected recommendations by European Funding Institutions

The definition and construction of “societal challenges” as problem/issue spaces per se stem from human action, reflection and coordination, asking the adequate questions and finding solutions in line with desired societal impact but without losing the capacity of critical reflection puts the humanities and social sciences indeed at the heart of pillar three in Horizon 2020. The problem with the inclusion of SSH in all Societal Challenges however, seems that it is not recognized well enough that e.g. historical and socio-philosophical approaches can significantly improve problem identification and that SSH’s integrative potential is often underestimated in general. The set of recommendations to follow is collected from the corpus of consultation responses of European Science and Research Funding Institutions and is overlapping with the recommendations drawn from the rest of the response corpus, as they are summarized in form of the Vilnius Declaration.

SSH themes in Horizon 2020 (and on national and regional levels)

• The formulation of Societal Challenges holds the power to define what research is relevant for society, but also paves the way for its use in society. There should be made room for curiosity driven research that is not too out-put oriented and rather risky in pillars 2 and 3 of Horizon 2020. This would require open calls in each SC. It further means that the calls for the SC in H2020 need to be carefully adapted rhetorically (linguistically) not to exclude the SSH (as it is the situation now, or just mention them as add-ons) and to constructively help to define the roles. This means top-down, thematic, proactive calls/inputs are needed alongside the bottom-up principle.
• Additionally SSH related research in the Societal Challenges pillar could be formulated in cross-cutting themes: human behavior: (e.g. climate-energy-transport), human reflection, change and societal governance (e.g. participatory approaches)
• Questions and themes for the European Research agenda should be negotiated transparently and include the relevant research communities, hence the SSH, and other societal stakeholders at ALL stages of topic development
• SSH contributions (current and potential ones) need to be clearly signposted, as the identification of opportunities is difficult when call texts are not adapted to include SSH. To make sure potential SSH researchers contribute across all societal challenges and the impact of the calls is maximized, opportunities across the seven Societal Challenges should be presented online, in thematic workshops, at kick-off events. The committees writing the calls need to be made attentive to the best practice models of SSH contributions. The Commission has to make sure that there are SSH-coordinated projects in all challenges and work-programmes.
• The SSH and Europe need a continued open discussion on the relevance and roles of SSH in Europe. This could be established by recurring events, such as the Vilnius Conference in 2013, but should be planned timely/in time for the next steps, the next biannual calls etc. e.g. a conference to review H2020 progress on SSH perspectives with reports about success and failures in application and project preparation and handling.
• A new strongly staffed and properly resourced unit should be established within DG Research & Innovation to provide robust institutional support and leadership for SSH involvement in Horizon 2020.
• European funding strategies are often regarded as models for national and regional funding efforts, or they are treated as surrogate for the lack of national and regional funding. Therefore it is important to have a continuously strong commitment to SSH on the agenda.
• Coordinate national and European funding principles. National funding instruments like ERA nets have a big disadvantage in terms of the integral research model: sciences and SSH receive their funding from different sources, no synchronised coordinated funding available for joint projects.

Organisation of SSH themes within the interdisciplinary context of Horizon 2020

• Counteracting the lack of translational infrastructure and structures requires dedicated platforms for the formation of inter- and transdiscplinary project teams. This could be achieved with the installation of dedicated Coordination and Support actions (CSA) on European level.
• Funding of preparatory stages or pilot projects is essential for interdisciplinary research. Furthermore, SSH also need test phases: testing specific concepts and approaches in respective environments and assessing the results.
• Continued funding of collaborative frameworks, such as HERA, Norface, Nos_HS is needed to establish cross-border structures, especially important for widening countries and interdisciplinary research within the SSH and with the sciences and engineering.
• Enable long-term, stable research funding for training of skilled professionals, tackle challenges in-depth (incl. the socio-economic ones), to capitalize on past investments.
• Dedicated brokerage events for the creation of new interdisciplinary and inter-sectorial partnerships: there is evidence (Swiss National Fund) that researchers from the humanities and social sciences seek collaboration with other domains more frequently than vice versa. SSH is regarded as being external to core scientific interest by many scientists but core scientific interest is not the core idea of Horizon 2020 societal challenges.
• Internationalization. SSH need to develop better methods for international visibility of their tools and approaches, furthermore embed their results – if possible – in comparative framings, strive for more open access to data and data infrastructure.
• Mobility funding for networking and exploratory workshops, dedicated mobility funding for new Member States, but also to attract international researchers to work in Europe.
• International collaboration with funding bodies such as the NSF (US), NEH (US), SSHRC (Can), FAPESP (Brazil), CONACYT (Mex), HSRC South Africa, ICfSSR (India), WHO, Unesco, International Social Science Council, Steering Platform for West Balkan Countries, should be intensified, as the collaboration and coordination with private funding organizations like Andrew W Mellon Foundation. “Asymmetrical cooperation” with funding bodies in rich parts of the world covering most of the costs should be encouraged.
• Create appropriate incentives at individual and collaborative level, e.g. by opening up university careers to interdisciplinary themes and fields, making them more permeable also to non-scientific careers and atypical academic lives. But also mechanism making SSH participation in certain topics of all SC obligatory, e.g. by a requirement to demonstrate policy and public impact across all challenges. This includes a criterion for funding decisions: a realistic and adequate budget for SSH research.
• Within the collaborative research model, small to medium-scale researcher projects seem to be more accessible and appropriate for the SSH community. In order to be involved in large-scale research projects, be it as member of the consortium or as leading unit, the SSH would need adequate training in leadership of large research projects with an interdisciplinary agenda (this is also true for all sciences, should they work inter- or transdisciplinary).
• Focus on crosscutting methodological innovations, such as e.g. digital humanities or participatory approaches, or new forms of working with historical data, “mixed methods” approaches, long term participatory observation, narrative analysis, new methods to handle big data.
• Another focus on trans-nationally relevant research infrastructures. By providing a common ground for asking different questions SSH collaboration can be fostered. See successful European Research Infrastructure Consortia, such as Dariah, Share-project, Clarin, ERIC, etc.
• Strengthen open access models for SSH publications and data.

Evaluation of interdisciplinary research

• Calls for proposal, peer reviews, intermediary and final evaluation procedures need to adapt to the integrative vision prescribed in Horizon 2020. This integrative and interdisciplinary approach must also guide the funding and programme management in order to sustain and provoke a new research culture.
• Success rate dropping under 10% (as in FP7, where the average success rate in other themes was around 22%) is not adequately reflecting the size, excellence and importance of SSH research in Europe. The average total evaluation score of funded projects in the theme 8 of FP7 reached 13.75 out of 15 and is the highest of all thematic areas in the programme “Cooperation”.
• Identify measures for the evaluation of Horizon 2020, how to measure the new collaborative research model of Horizon 2020, should e.g. identifier numbers of research fields and disciplines be used in the proposals, how to measure the different input of all sciences and SSH, how to develop this with participation of the relevant SSH communities.
• Excellence. In SSH best researchers will produce the best research, research depends on individual excellence rather than on the work of large teams, but excellent infrastructures help. But currently STEM research provides the paradigm for scientific excellence, project structure, modes of scientific collaboration, and more. Excellence needs to be re-framed also in terms of SSH.
• Not to forget the ethical dimension of SSH research: in FP7 conceptual instruments and ethics review was better suited to medical/bio/life-science research, not to SSH research. There is a lack of official EU guidelines on ethics in social research resulting in a lack of awareness of the ethics implications of SSH research [2].
The development of categories for the analysis of the consultation responses provided conceptual ideas for the design of the conference programme and greatly helped formulating the Vilnius Declaration.


The conference homepage was developed which served not only as the main site for information on the conference but is also used as repository for all documents submitted to the consultation. As such, it provided a complete overview of the discussion launched, like a snapshot archive of the discourse up until the conference. For further usage, the entire consultation and feedback process is archived on the website. During the project lifetime the website and document repository was visited more than 25 000 times. The conference homepage and document repository includes the following rubrics:
• Conference Report
• Conference
Conference Report
Steering Committee
Side Events
• Consultation
Consultation report
Document and Link Archive
• Organizers
About Vilnius
About Lithuania
Mykolas Romeris University
• What follows?
Reactions and actions
• Photos
• Contact us


The Vilnius Declaration is the result of a long deliberate exchange of ideas among the members of the Steering Committee, firmly based on the outcome of the Consultation Process. It became clear that the Declaration had to deal with two issues in particular, intended to find their way into the daily practice of policy-makers.

The immediate goal of the Declaration sets out the general conditions for integrating the SSH into the Horizon 2020 programme. In addition, the aim of the Declaration is to provide also guidance for future research programmes, either on national or on European level, to assure that integration of SSH can be achieved. It does so by
A) Stressing the benefits of integrating SSH into the research framework of the Societal Challenges Pillar and
B) Defining the changes necessary in order for “integration” to occur, so that effective collaboration can result. The Declaration therefore emphasizes the need to recognize knowledge diversity, as well as organizational and infrastructural arrangements, and the long-term investment in interdisciplinary training and research. Finally it also highlights the need to connect social values and research evaluation.

The text of Vilnius Declaration was as follows:

Vilnius Declaration – Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities
September 24th, 2013, Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania

Europe will benefit from wise investment in research and innovation and Social Sciences and Humanities, SSH, are ready to contribute. European societies expect research and innovation to be the foundation for growth. Horizon 2020 aims to implement inter-disciplinarity and an integrated scientific approach. If research is to serve society, a resilient partnership with all relevant actors is required. A wide variety of perspectives will provide critical insights to help achieve the benefits of innovation. The effective integration of SSH requires that they are valued, researched and taught in their own right as well as in partnership with other disciplinary approaches.

The value and benefits of integrating Social Sciences and Humanities

European Social Sciences and Humanities are world class, especially considering their diversity. They are indispensable in generating knowledge about the dynamic changes in human values, identities and citizenship that transform our societies. They are engaged in research, design and transfer of practical solutions for a better and sustainable functioning of democracy. Their integration into Horizon 2020 offers a unique opportunity to broaden our understanding of innovation, realigning science with on-going changes in the ways in which society operates.
1. Innovation is a matter of change in organizations and institutions as well as technologies. It is driven not only by technological advances, but also by societal expectations, values and demands. Making use of the wide range of knowledge, capabilities, skills and experiences readily available in SSH will enable innovation to become embedded in society and is necessary to realize the policy aims predefined in the “Societal Challenges”.
2. Fostering the reflective capacity of society is crucial for sustaining a vital democracy. This can be achieved through innovative participatory approaches, empowering European citizens in diverse arenas, be it through participation as consumers in the marketplace, as producers of culture, as agents in endangered environments, and/or as voters in European democracies.
3. Policy-making and research policy have much to gain from SSH knowledge and methodologies. The latter lead to new perspectives on identifying and tackling societal problems. SSH can be instrumental in bringing societal values and scientific evaluation into closer convergence.
4. Drawing on Europe’s most precious cultural assets, SSH play a vital role in redefining Europe in a globalizing world and enhancing its attractiveness.
5. Pluralistic SSH thinking is a precious resource for all of Europe’s future research and innovation trajectories, if it can be genuinely integrated. Horizon 2020 offers this opportunity for the first time.

Conditions for the successful integration of SSH into Horizon 2020

6. Recognizing knowledge diversity: solving the most pressing societal challenges requires the appropriate inclusion of SSH. This can only succeed on a basis of mutual intellectual and professional respect and in genuine partnership. Efficient integration will require novel ways of defining research problems, aligned with an appropriate array of interdisciplinary methods and theoretical approaches. SSH approaches continue to foster practical applications that enhance the effectiveness of technical solutions.
7. Collaborating effectively: the working conditions of all research partners must be carefully considered from the beginning and appropriately aligned to set up efficient collaboration across different disciplines and research fields. This includes adequate organizational and infrastructural arrangements, as well as ties to other stakeholders in civil society and business. Budgetary provisions must be appropriate to achieve this goal.
8. Fostering interdisciplinary training and research: integrating SSH with the natural and technical sciences must begin with fitting approaches in post-graduate education and training. Innovative curricula foster a deepened understanding of the value of different disciplinary approaches, and how they relate to real world problems.
9. Connecting social values and research evaluation: policy-makers rightly insist that the impact of publicly funded research and its benefits for society and the economy should be assessed. Accurate research evaluation that values the breadth of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches is required to tackle the most pressing societal challenges.
Agreement with the principles of the Vilnius Declaration should be made the basis for the integration of the SSH into Horizon 2020.

[1] This approach is very similar to “Grounded Theory” as developed by Strauss and Glaser (Discovery of Grounded Theory. Strategies for Qualitative Research. Sociology Press, 1967) combining data collection and analysis with pragmatic theory of action. It is based on “abductive reasoning”, pulling together sampling, analysis and theory development as steps of an integrative process, repeated and continued until the research question can be sufficiently answered and application of new data does not change the answers. Furthermore it is based on the concept of “Qualitative Content Analysis” as set out in Mayring (see FQS 1,2: 2000)
[2] See: Guidance Note for Researchers and Evaluators of Social Sciences and Humanities Research 2010:
Dissemination / visibility activities were aimed at disseminating the project's outcome and outputs, achieved during the entire project lifecycle at local, national and EU level ensuring effective synergy with a wide network of organizations (public government bodies, research centres, universities, business companies, NGOs, and media).Conference report book was prepared with contributions of the keynote speakers of the conference, parallel session contirbutions, consultation reports, commentaries, etc. Other dissemination and public relations activities included appearances on official websites, press releases and media briefings, appearances on radio and TV programmes, articles in newspapers and magazines, broadcasting of the conference lively via discussions in the social media, post-conference events.


Welcome address by Máire GEOGHEGAN-QUINN, European Commissioner’s for Research, Innovation and Science, at the conference Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities was disseminated via European Commissions Press Release database service:;

Welcome address by Máire GEOGHEGAN-QUINN, European Commissioner’s for Research, Innovation and Science, at the conference Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities was disseminated via the official website:

Welcome address by H.E. Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania, at the conference Horizons of Social Sciences and Humanities was disseminated via official President‘s website:


The following text was disseminated:

Social Sciences and Humanities in Spotlight of European Academic Community
Sept. 23rd-24th, the Lithuanian EU Council Presidency’s international conference, “Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities“ will be held in Vilnius at Mykolas Romeris University (MRU).

The event aims to foster discourse on the relations of social sciences and humanities (SHM) with other fields of science and research policy, in particular with the future EU research and innovation finansing programme Horizon 2020. The Conference is under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė. The conference is organized by the European Commission, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Research Council of Lithuania and Mykolas Romeris University.

Europe’s Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn will attend the conference along with the Director-General of the European Commission’s DG for Research and European Innovation Robert-Jan Smits, and European Research Council (ERC) President Prof. Helga Nowotny, Ph.D. There are over 400 European researchers and representatives from universities, research policy institutions, agencies financing research, associations, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and the media that are coming to the conference, Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities.

Prior to the conference, in order to determine the status quo of SHM in Europe and needs and objectives, there was consultation with various European countries’ researchers, academic institutions, and agencies financing research.

The first day of the conference the following topics will be covered: 1) Similarities and differences (what obstacles and challenges are SHM communities facing? What are structural SHM difficulties? How can SHM be made more open to the public?), 2) Evaluation (how to evaluate SHM research?) 3) Education and Training (how to improve qualifications of researchers and scientists in the later stage of an academic career? How to achieve a smoother and more natural international mobility?)

On the second day of the conference, there will be a discussion about how SHM can help overcome the challenges in the European economic growth strategy, “Europe 2020“: health and demographic changes, safe food and sustainable agriculture, maritime research and the bioeconomy, secure energy, smart transport, climate change and conservation of natural resources, innovative and secure societies. There will also be discussion on what place SHM has in the future EU research and innovation financing programme Horizon 2020.

Vilnius declaration will be prepared based on consultations and conference results. The future of European research policy will be modeled, according to the declaration.

For more detailed information and the programme, visit the website at:

• Der Tagesspiegel (in German): Mehr Geld für Identitäten und Kulturen;
• LSE Impact of Social Sciences: Don’t just complain, take the lead!;
• Euroscientist: Time for the research agenda to account for its societal context;
• Ideas on Europe: Integrating Social Sciences and Humanities in Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges: Will it work?;
• Research Europe: Humanities fear ‘business as usual’;
• Research Europe: Humanities and social sciences unsure of prospects in Horizon 2020;
• Horizon 2020 Projects: SSH in Horizon 2020;
• Scienceguide: Social sciences serve well-being;
• EASSH Open Letter to the Commissioner: Towards Europe 2020: integrating the Social Sciences and Humanities;
• Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective: Post-Conference Interview;
• EASST Review: Conference Report;
• ERA Portal Austria: The Vilnius Declaration – Horizons for Social Sciences and Humanities;
• Science Europe: The Humanities in the Societal Challenges;
• LERU: The Future of Social Sciences and Humanities in Europe;

• Deutsche Universitätszeitung: So geht es nicht! (20 Dec 2013);
• WZB-Mitteilungen 142, Dec 2013: The EU and Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities;
• Special issue: FORSCHUNG, Dec 2013, Interview with Helga Nowotny, Jutta Allmendinger, Dagmar Simon und Julia Stamm;
• Liberation, France:;;
• Der Standard, Austria: Neue Horizonte für Sozial und Geisteswissenschaften;–und-Geisteswissenschaften
• The Guardian, UK:;
• Information, DK:;
• Lzinios, Lithuania:;
• Lzinios, Lithuania:;
• Delfi, Lithuania:;
• Lithuania:;
• Lithaunia:;
• Lithuania:;
• Lithuania:;
• Lithuania:;
• Lithuania:;
• Expertai, Lithuania:;
• Elta, Lithuania:;
• Kauno Diena, Lithuania:;
• Vakarų Ekspresas, Lithuania:;
• Verslo Žinios, Lithuania:;
• Šiaulių kraštas, Lithuania:;

#horizonsSSH was used on Twitter.

• June 2014, Copenhagen, DK: Euroscience Open Forum, Session: Mapping Social Sciences and Humanities; Session: The Roles of Social Science and Humanities in Addressing Global Challenges;
• February 2014, Athens, GR: Achieving Impact: Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities (SSH) in Horizon 2020;
• February 2014, Barcelona, ES: The future of European SSH research. Scientific, political and social impact;
• December 2013, Brussels, BE: 43 shades of Social Sciences and Humanities in Horizon 2020?;
• November 2013: Aarhus, DK: Negotiating the Humanities;
• October and November 2013, Macerata, IT: SSH in Horizon 2020, meeting series;
• September 2013, Copenhagen, DK: The role of social science and humanities in H2020.

Potential Impact:
The conference tackled the following questions: what impact could SSH make on grand societal challenges, and what is the role of SSH in Horizon 2020? What capacities are specifically needed from the social sciences and humanities to meet the challenges addressed in Horizon 2020? What could be done to overcome the obstacles and problems that the SSH communities in Europe are currently facing? How can Horizon 2020 help to make SSH a more organised voice in Europe? What are the most pressing SSH research questions, individual challenges, research agenda, and cultures? How to evaluate SSH research? The conference dealt with these issues along the following thematic topics: 1) Diversities and Common Grounds, 2) Evaluation and Assessment, 3) Education and Training, in order to set the agenda for the development of concrete measures of SSH related action in Horizon 2020. Declaration to decision-makers was prepared and disseminated aiming to enhance political action with regard to the issues discussed at the conference.

The project contributed to the overall goal of Europe 2020 of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It encouraged discussion and research which provide directions for European, national or regional policy-making. In particular, the project helped drawing a realistic picture of SSH in Europe, their needs and aims, and acted as a game changer for SSH in Europe insofar as it brought together SSH representatives and policy makers in order to facilitate the integration of SSH research into the Horizon 2020 framework. The conference homepage served as the main site for information on the conference as well as a repository for all documents submitted to the consultation process. As such, it provided a complete overview of the discussion launched, like a snapshot archive of the discourse up until the conference, including extensive link lists. Based on the results of the open consultation process and the conference discussions a declaration was prepared and disseminated to policy makers and other interested parties. The project was widely covered by local, national and international specialized and popular media. To conclude, the project served as a powerful tool to European academic community and policy makers regarding SSH policy on the European level.


Whether the conference was successful in achieving its two aims of bringing Commission and SSH closer together, and in fostering a mutually shared understanding of the conditions that will need to be met, is yet to be seen. It depends to a large extent on whether the policy makers will indeed make serious attempts to integrate SSH in all parts of the process of H2020; and on the way the SSH community will deal with the legacy of the conference. What the conference achieved was to prepare a unique setting in order to fulfil the two aims. Indications of this success are:
• The Commission was present in all parallel sessions;
• There was considerable interest from SSH communities, although not equally across all disciplines, research fields, and from all parts of Europe;
• There was a lot of media coverage, not only in specialised media, but also in mainstream newspapers;
• A change of mood was palpable – instead of complaining, loose ends were taken up and people were more willing to “take the lead”;
Thus, the Conference results in two different sets of recommendations on different levels of abstraction:
•Recommendations on a general level, addressing the integration of SSH in Horizon 2020;
•Recommendations on a detailed level, addressing the integration of SSH at within each of the Societal Challenges.
While the more detailed recommendations on each of the Societal Challenges can be found in the respective session reports, general conclusions to be taken up swiftly, are presented here.

1. The Programme Committees of each Societal Challenge should be informed about the Vilnius Declaration ( during their upcoming meetings, and the members of each Programme Committee should be invited to include experts from the Social Sciences and Humanities in their respective national group of experts for consultation on the Work Programme.

2. Advisory boards, Programme Committees, evaluation panels and strategy committees should include experts from the Social Sciences and Humanities, including experts in interdisciplinary research. If SSH are in the minority, how can their adequate involvement be assured?

3. New instruments and adaptable infrastructures: Each Societal Challenge should foresee CSA platforms of interdisciplinary research and the establishment of synthesis centres for innovative ways of data assembling, in order to create “real” spaces for the networking and preparation of interdisciplinary projects, bringing together experts from all fields of science and scholarship.

4. At every Horizon2020 kick-off, national info days, workshops on the integration of Social Sciences and Humanities and the incentives of interdisciplinary research should be highlighted, potential contributions signposted, in order to also address the respective communities. Showcases of best interdisciplinary practice, and increased awareness in research communities for EU research funding ecology with dedicated events/workshops should be provided.

5. When it comes to access to calls, the Commission is asked to commit to openness and transparency for all stakeholders; and the member states are asked to provide adequate national support for their SSH communities. Here, the Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage and Global Change can function as a good practice example.

6. Finally, integration should always aim to encompass both the Social Sciences and the Humanities.

7. Organise regular meetings, if possible on each of the Societal Challenges and their work programmes, to follow up on what has been achieved in the Vilnius parallel sessions.

8. SSH need a strong voice of its own in Europe – in order to build communities, and also to integrate SSH on common grounds into European research agenda and funding policy.

9. Institutional arrangements for exchange of ideas (previously provided by ESF) and networking should be sought more actively.

10. Focus on trans-nationally relevant research infrastructures: SSH collaboration can be fostered by providing a common ground for asking different questions.

11. Promote interdisciplinary training and education where it is necessary and useful, open up university settings to cross-disciplinary research and methodology.

12. Seek new ways of combining solution oriented and critical research.

13. Define new skills for SSH, relevant e.g. to interdisciplinarity, participatory approaches, digitalisation and dealing with the opportunities offered by newly available data..

14. Taking the lead means taking on bigger roles in research cooperation with natural sciences, engineering and citizens.

15. Seek new ways and develop transparent criteria of research assessment and impact analysis.

16. Invest in bibliographic reference bases, open access to research results and open data repositories.

17. Organise actively interdisciplinary and reflexive SSH related training of policy makers and representatives of the natural sciences and engineering, as well as NGOS, business and industry.

18. Connect with each other and coordinate your action whenever possible.


1. Organise regular meetings, if possible on each of the Societal Challenges and their work programmes, to follow up on what has been achieved in the Vilnius parallel sessions.

2. SSH need a strong voice of its own in Europe – in order to build communities, and also to integrate SSH on common grounds into European research agenda and funding policy.

3. Institutional arrangements for exchange of ideas (previously provided by ESF) and networking should be sought more actively.

4. Focus on trans-nationally relevant research infrastructures: SSH collaboration can be fostered by providing a common ground for asking different questions.

5. Promote interdisciplinary training and education where it is necessary and useful, open up university settings to cross-disciplinary research and methodology.

6. Seek new ways of combining solution oriented and critical research.

7. Define new skills for SSH, relevant e.g. to interdisciplinarity, participatory approaches, digitalisation and dealing with the opportunities offered by newly available data.

8. Taking the lead means taking on bigger roles in research cooperation with natural sciences, engineering and citizens.

9. Seek new ways and develop transparent criteria of research assessment and impact analysis.

10. Invest in bibliographic reference bases, open access to research results and open data repositories.

11. Organise actively interdisciplinary and reflexive SSH related training of policy makers and representatives of the natural sciences and engineering, as well as NGOS, business and industry.

12. Connect with each other and coordinate your actions whenever possible.

List of Websites:

Project coordinator, Ms. Nomeda Gudelienė,
Mykolas Romeris University
Ateities str. 20,
LT-08303 Vilnius,
Tel. +370 5 2714565

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