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Against the Downsizing of Social Sciences in the EU

News from Dec 09, 2010

Dear colleagues,

We would like to draw your attention to some alarming developments in the preparations for the 8th Framework Programme. These include:

1.The downgrading of socio-economic and humanities research in DG Research from a department to one single office (taking effect January 1, 2011).

2.The plan to abolish broader, long-term integrated projects and the like in social sciences and humanities in the 8th Framework Programme. Instead, a focus on "grand challenges" with topics that are more applied than basic research and are supposed to foster European competitiveness on global markets (social science as an 'auxiliary' discipline to be mainstreamed into the other sciences).

3.The downsizing of funding for socio-economic and humanities research projects in the 8th Framework Programme.

There is nothing we can do against the structural decision of DG Research to down-grade social science and humanities. There is still time to mobilize against its thematic and financial downsizing. Given the decentralized structure of social sciences, concerted action is difficult to organize.. I hope you understand that we are not able to coordinate a Europe-wide protest campaign.

However, we suggest that you use the connections and networks you have to disseminate the following demands, both to EU and national policy-makers:

1. No downsizing of socio-economic and humanities research;

2. Continuation of integrated projects and networks on both smaller scale (1-3 Mio Euro) and larger scale (5-12 Mio Euro);

3. Strengthening of social sciences in the Marie Curie Programme;

4. If grand challenges, they should focus on "social and cultural cohesion" of Europe instead only on innovation;

5. Less focus on partnering with industry, rather focusing on public sector and civil society.

In particular, we would encourage you to mobilize your professional associations. Moreover, it would be useful if all the protest was directed towards two persons in the Commission and the EP, respectively:

- Commission: DG Research General Director: robert-jan.smits@ec.europa.eu

- EP ITRE Committee Chair: herbert.reul@europarl.europa.eu


Tanja A. Börzel, Thomas Risse, and Carina Sprungk