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HERA Joint Research Programme Uses of the Past

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - HERA JRP UP (HERA Joint Research Programme Uses of the Past)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2019-12-31

The HERA Joint Research Programme Uses of the Past (HERA JRP UP) consortium established a 3rd joint transnational programme for multi-disciplinary research into a topic at the heart of the reflective society: ”Uses of the Past”. The innovative projects funded have fundamentally linked past(s), present and future(s) creating valuable new knowledge that gives insights into the forces shaping the social, cultural and political transformation in Europe today. The HERA JRP UP further developed additional activities aiming at international capacity-building in humanities research, promoting embedding of humanities researchers in Horizon 2020, and has explored and prepared new joint actions.

Twenty-four organisations from 23 countries pooled a substantial amount of their humanities research funding (21 M EUR) for this HERA JRP. The consortium has funded 18 transnational humanities-centred projects of ~1,2 M EUR each. EC support was awarded to the level of 33% of the joint call budget. The HERA JRP UP consortium has actively supported knowledge exchange activities and stimulated wider dissemination of the valuable contributions of new humanities research.

With this large transnational JRP and its associated activities the HERA JRP UP has mobilised the intellectual energies and collaborative potential of a wide range of humanities disciplines, and further developed the knowledge base of the European Research Area by sharing and debating interpretations of the human past and its relation to the present and future.
The HERA JRP UP partners jointly defined and developed a common research priority, opened a transnational funding mechanism and pooled a substantial amount of their funding in one virtual pot. The HERA JRP UP Board was the main decision-making body regarding matters such as the financing of the HERA JRP UP projects, Knowledge Transfer Strategy and its implementation, and monitoring of the HERA JRP UP funded projects. The HERA JRP UP partners contracted the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research to act as the HERA JRP UP Handling Agency for the first phase of the programme (e.g. organising the call and selection process). For the second phase of the programme the IRC was contracted as the HERA JRP UP Handling Agency (i.e. for managing the HERA JRP UP funded projects and networking activities).

The Call was open to scholars located in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, irrespective of their nationality. Successful proposals required the building of consortia of four or more partners based in four or more different HERA JRP UP countries. The total amount of funding available for the transnational research projects funded in the HERA JRP UP theme was 21,7 M€, 4 M€ of which was the Cofund. Most participating countries also made a provisional additional 25% reservation to their original commitment to guarantee that a reasonable number of projects could be funded. In addition 0,7 M€ was contributed by the HERA JRP UP partners for the handling costs of the selection procedure and the management costs of the projects.

The projects were considered to be highly successful, both in their efforts to generate meaningful transnational humanities research, but also in their efforts to disseminate these results. Their individual results and subsequent evaluations can be found in Deliverable 5.5 and 5.6. respectively.

The HERA JRP created a HERA Vision and Strategy, to generate a unified response to the challenges presented by this transnational cooperation. Within this Vision, HERA defined its mission and core working principles and set out a course of action for the next years. This course of action specified a far broader spectrum of activities for the HERA network than the initially planned focus on “embedding” as set out in the application for the Cofund HERA Joint Research Programme “Uses of the Past”. To keep in line with the HERA Vision, the network’s action plan was modified and changed from a narrower focus on the integration of the humanities (and social sciences) in the European Research Area to a wider strategic orientation tackling funding calls, advocacy, impact and knowledge exchange and organisational challenges.

HERA scoped out members’ interest in developing the portfolio of funding activities either by additional joint bi- or multilateral calls as well as their interest in joining forces with other funders or funders’ networks – with or without EC funding. This was implemented through a scoping exercise in 2017/2018 (see D8.6 “Report on evaluation/future areas”), continuous discussion throughout the bi-annual Board Meetings of HERA, a dedicated Workshop on prioritization (Madrid, 6/2018) and contact to other potential funders and networks.

Finally, DLR-PT coordinated the additional activities targeting at strategy development for embedding humanities in the ERA and at signposting opportunities for humanities researchers.

One example would be the “Early Career Researchers Event”. This was organised by the Knowledge Exchange fellows in 2018 in Slovakia. As a follow-up to that, the Early Career Researcher Network was launched at the HERA conference in Gdansk (10.-11.09.2019) which united ECRs from the HERA Joint Research Programmes “Uses of the Past” and “Public Spaces”.
The HERA JRP UP presented an opportunity to develop a KE Strategy Group (KESG), chaired by AHRC, which aimed to improve awareness of the projects and their respective impacts beyond the confines of academia.
In August 2016, they created a Knowledge Exchange and Communication Strategy for the Uses of the Past Joint Research Programme (JRP) (Deliverable 6.1). Outlining a cluster of challenges for HERA to engage with, the strategy set out a framework for the network’s knowledge exchange (KE) and communications activities for the duration of the JRP

The KESG provided strategic direction on KE to the HERA Network Board and Management Team. Consisting of 8-10 members drawn from these two bodies, they were specifically tasked to appoint and subsequently coordinate the activities of two Knowledge Exchange and Impact fellows. These KE&I Fellows were tasked with creating and evidencing coherent, strong narratives that promoted the HERA network and supporting projects and programmes in their efforts to generate efficient Knowledge Exchange.

Outputs generated by these KE&I fellows have been numerous, and include but are not limited to: Public Engagement and Knowledge Exchange Toolkits, the Early Career Network event, the dissemination of the HERA vision, and many other conferences intended to bring the projects closer together.

Finally, a joint activity presented to the European Commission in March 2018, and distributed more widely via the HERA and NORFACE websites, is named ‘Research Beyond Borders’. This is one pillar of HERA’s broader strategy of advocating for the humanities in Europe, which has also seen the coordination of submissions to European Commission consultations on Horizon Europe. In particular, in 2017, HERA worked closely with Net4Society, EuroScience, ALLEA and five other bodies to develop a joint statement which outlined an agenda for Horizon Europe from the Humanities and Social Sciences.