Leiden Statement: “Social Sciences and Humanities Indispensable to Understanding and Addressing Global Challenges”

“The social sciences and humanities are indispensable to understanding and addressing contemporary global challenges, and to grasping emerging opportunities. Every challenge the world faces has a human dimension, and no solution can be achieved without enlisting the support and efforts of individuals, communities and societies,” according to the Leiden Statement: The Role of the Social Sciences and Humanities in the Global Research Landscape, released in November. The Statement’s signatories are the League of European Research Universities (LERU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the China 9 grouping of leading Chinese universities (C9), the Australian Group of Eight research-intensive universities (Go8), the Association of East Asia Research Universities (AEARU), the Russell Group in the UK, RU 11 Japan, and the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities. The Statement’s purpose is to “restate and champion the fundamental role that the social sciences and humanities play in the new global community.” Accordingly, the Leiden Statement calls for “an expanded role” for the social sciences and humanities in confronting problems via interdisciplinary research.

The statement asserts that “the social sciences and humanities cultivate knowledge about human express, behavior, and social life that is essential to understanding the human context of these challenges and crating viable solutions to them.” It further emphasizes that social sciences, including anthropology, economics, sociology, psychology, education, human geography, political science and government, “reveal patterns in our lives as individuals, groups and society at large, and they address questions of critical importance in times of global change and conflict by employing a range of research methods, including observational, qualitative and quantitative methodologies and experimental methods.”

The signatories commit to working collaboratively to:

  • Ensure that the social sciences and humanities disciplines continue to receive effective support within their institutions and play an explicit role in forming institutional curriculums;
  • Increase recognition of the importance of social sciences and humanities disciplines within their countries and regions by highlighting the contribution of these disciplines to national and global wellbeing;
  • Ensure the benefits of social sciences and humanities research and education programs flow without unnecessary constraint to the wider community in order to maximize the return on the investments in social sciences and humanities research, scholarship and education made by governments, the business sector, donors, and students;
  • Promote strong funding and support of social sciences and humanities research;
  • Facilitate international cooperation in the social sciences and humanities fields to foster a deeper, shared understanding of the commonalities and differences that contribute to the world’s social and cultural realities; and
  • Advance global research collaborations including the interdisciplinary approaches to global societal challenges in partnership with the natural and life sciences and engineering.

The full statement is available here.

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Posted in Issue 22 (December 5), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

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