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Interdisciplinarity in Times of Crisis: Why the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Matter

Thursday 14th May 13.00 – 14.00 CET

Immediate responses to the COVID-19 crisis have understandably tended to focus on funding research that can fight the virus. At the same time, our world and ways of living have changed suddenly and radically, and there is a widespread sense that we cannot return to the old “normal”. Panellists David Budtz Pedersen, Gabi Lombardo and Daniel Carey (see profiles below) discuss why it remains important to take seriously the perspectives coming from Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences research in times of crisis, and how we can work to ensure real collaboration between these and other scientific approaches in understanding the crisis and preparing for the post-crisis world. The discussion was chaired by Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, Principal Investigator of the SHAPE-ID project, Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub and Chair of the Irish Research Council.

You can listen to our podcast recording or watch the video here (video starts 09:20):


Mission Covid-19: Global problems need a portfolio approach

Gabi Lombardo, European Alliance for Social Sciences and Humanities

In a new position paper EASSH calls for European policymakers and funding agencies to ensure that all domains of research are mobilised to address the challenges of Covid-19, using a mission-type “portfolio approach” of projects and disciplines. In addition to medical and biological research, studies into the social, cultural and human aspects of our lives are crucial for tackling this crisis. We need multiple types of expertise and methodologies to provide the accurate, informed and ethically sound evidence required by our policymakers.

Gabi Lombardo is the Director of the European Alliance for Social Sciences and Humanities (, the largest advocacy and science policy organisation for social sciences and humanities in Europe.  She is an expert in both higher education and global research policy, and has extensive high-level experience operating at the interface of strategy, science policy, research support and funding. Gabi has senior level experience in strategic and ‘foresight’ planning in elite higher education institutions, international research funders and associations, having worked with the London School of Economics (LSE), the European Research Council (ERC) and Science Europe (SE).

Science Communication in Times of Crisis: perspectives from the social sciences and humanities

David Budtz Pedersen, Aalborg University 

In his lecture “Why science matters for policy”, the UK Government Chief Science Adviser Dr Patrick Vallance said: “Expertise without knowledge about the behavioural and historical context in which policy change will happen, is doomed to fail …“. The covid-19 pandemic is a case in time. It is a communications emergency as much as a medical crisis. Problems that need to be addressed by policy-makers are characterised not only by data and epidemiological models but by the cultural, communicative and cognitive environment in which the crisis is unfolding. Contested values, uncertainties, decision-making and behavioural design need to be part of the evidence that informs government policy. Without integrating interdisciplinary knowledge about communication, culture and behaviour, the implications of the current crisis is difficult to comprehend and mitigate. The insights of historians, philosophers, psychologists and others are needed more than ever to advise policy-makers.

David Budtz Pedersen is Professor of Science Communication and Director of the Humanomics Research Centre at Aalborg University, Denmark. His research focuses on science communication, impact assessment, and science and technology policy. He is the Principal Investigator of ‘Responsible Impact’ (2016-2020), ‘Open Research Analytics’ (2018-2021) and ‘Mapping the Public Value of Humanities’ (2017-2021). He is the Chair of the EU Commission COST Expert Group on Science Communication. Alongside his research, David is adviser to the Danish Government and European Commission, dealing with Open Science, research impact and science advice. In 2019, he was appointed member of the Danish Governments’ Commission on Rewards and Reputation in Research.

Daniel Carey, MRIA, is Director of the Moore Institute for the Humanities and Social Studies at NUI Galway and Professor of English in the School of English and Creative Arts. He is a Vice-President of the Royal Irish Academy and a board member of the Irish Research Council. He was Chair of the Irish Humanities Alliance 2014-16.

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