It’s hard to believe three months has passed since SHAPE-ID began. So much has happened since then – we’ve launched our website and Twitter account, showcased SHAPE-ID at some high-profile events (see our News & Events page) and begun the exciting work of creating a database of relevant literature and projects for analysis, designing our survey and planning our Learning Case Workshops. Now we’re launching our blog and it seems like a good occasion for a short reflection on our early progress in getting the project up and running.
On 18 February the entire consortium met for the first time in Leuven for the project kick-off meeting. Some partners had collaborated in the past. Others only knew each other from working together on the SHAPE-ID proposal a year earlier. Others still had just joined the project team. Over the course of two days we began the critical task of arriving at a shared understanding of our aims, tasks and roles. In particular, the interconnected nature of the 5 main Work Packages and the need for all partners to contribute to defining the scope of the work at each stage emerged strongly through discussion.
SHAPE-ID’s ultimate aim is to develop a toolkit (in Work Package 5) to help our stakeholders – researchers, funders, policy makers, universities and research users or co-creators in industry, civil society and the cultural sector – to improve their ability to carry out and support impactful inter- and transdisciplinary research integrating the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) with STEM and other scientific disciplines such as Medicine. The diversity of the SHAPE-ID stakeholder group presents an interesting challenge in this regard, as each plays a different role, has different potential for impact, and faces different challenges at each stage of the research life cycle and within the overall research ecosystem. How do we map these relationships and influences so we can address each group’s needs in our final toolkit? Capturing the experience of stakeholders across all categories is essential to delivering on our aims.
We are currently carrying out an extensive review of the existing literature (both academic and ‘grey’ literature such as funding calls and policy documents) and preparing to survey European and regional research projects to better understand what factors help or hinder AHSS integration (Work Package 2). We’re also planning a series of participatory Learning Case Workshops to explore approaches to inter- and transdisciplinary research for solving societal challenges (Work Package 3). In Work Package 4 we’ll develop a knowledge framework to capture and map the important factors arising from the earlier activities, which will feed the development of the toolkit, policy brief and recommendations in Work Package 5.
The collaborative process that started with the meeting in Leuven has continued in multiple ongoing bilateral and small group meetings between partners since. In March and April, there were some very productive research visits, with Maciej Maryl, from the Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences (IBL PAN), and Jack Spaapen, both visiting ETH Zurich to work closely with Work Package 2 leaders on the development of the literature review and survey.
We are now looking forward to our second project meeting and Co-Design Workshop in Rome in June, where we will agree on the format and themes of our six Learning Case Workshops in Work Package 3, led by ISINNOVA. These workshops will be hosted by partners across Europe from December 2019 to May 2020 and are a hugely important opportunity to bring researchers and other stakeholders together to explore how inter- and transdisciplinary research between AHSS and STEM disciplines can address some of the serious challenges facing Europe – and the world – today.
Soon after our Kick-Off meeting, the European Commission published the latest SSH Integration Report. This noted a welcome increase in the number of Horizon 2020 funded projects with at least one AHSS partner. However, most participation is still from a small number of disciplines, with the Arts and Humanities, as well as a number of Social Science disciplines, still very poorly represented. Importantly, the report recommends that more needs to be done to ensure more meaningful and impactful AHSS integration. SHAPE-ID’s results will support the European Commission’s valuable commitment to increasing the participation of AHSS disciplines in research projects.
Later this summer we’ll be sending out our first e-newsletter with project updates. You can subscribe to receive this newsletter on our website. We’ll continue blogging and sharing on social media too, so connect with us on Twitter and Facebook or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to join the conversation, learn more about the project or share ideas.
 European Commission (2019), Integration of Social Sciences and Humanities in Horizon 2020: Participants, Budget and Disciplines – 4th Monitoring report on SSH flagged projects funded in 2017 under the Societal Challenges and Industrial Leadership priorities.